Friday, November 18, 2011

Instant Success

When I send my copy editor a novel, it takes her about a week to edit it. She receives it via email, instantly. When she's done, I get it back, instantly. It takes me about an hour to publish it on the internet, causing it to be for sale almost anywhere in the world.

Not more than a year ago, it went much differently.

I used to send my novels and short stories to family members to get their impression and hopefully some free copy editing. Luckily, I have a literate family. I never paid for copy editing because it was too expensive, and I figured it probably wouldn’t pay off because my chances of it selling weren't very good.

So after I got my story back from my family, maybe a few weeks after I sent it to them, maybe longer if they were busy, I would begin the process of writing a query letter to an agent. I would send it snail mail, because I was informed they thought less of email queries (one agent said they were getting too many email queries at four in the morning from "drunk would-be writers"). Wait? Writers were drunk-querying agents like horny frat boys looking for a booty call? Did agents believe that a traditional query letter sent through the mail was always written at an appropriate hour and only sent when sober? Whatever!

On my query, I heard back, snail mail, in about three weeks to three months. Usually I received a form letter, no signature. A story sent to a magazine usually took about a month to get a response. Form letter, no signature. In fact, in the old days, I was thrilled if, six months later, I got a rejection letter that was handwritten.

This morning I heard that a writer friend of mine (who is selling books like hotcakes) sent his newest story to his copy editor and he instantly got a message back that it will be ready before Thanksgiving.
I like the new way.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Free Market at Last

   Imagine you were a woman that spent a lifetime wanting to write science fiction for a living, but you couldn't because it was a male dominated profession. At nearly fifty years old, you try your luck at publishing something in a magazine called Fantastic Universe, a big deal in the sci fi community at the time, and not only is it accepted, but you form a relationship with the editor and he wants more of your work. The rub? It's accepted and published under a pseudonym, the masculine name Lee. My grandmother published four stories with Fantastic Universe in the late fifties under the name Lee Chaytor (she feared people would pronounce her last name CHATTER.)  But even as late as the 1980's, sci fi was still a male dominated world, despite luminaries like Ursula K. Leguin. Because she knew she'd have a better chance publishing romance novels, she had no problem writing and publishing twenty-two of them in eight years. But she continued to write sci fi in her free time.
   One of the best things she had ever written of any genre, according to her, was a book called The Big Sling. It's amazing to me that someone could publish twenty-two books, but her best work sat in a box in the closet because society couldn't handle a female writer. No longer is that a problem. Those were the old days. In today's market, with self-publishing rapidly becoming more respectable and certainly profitable, it doesn’t matter who you are or from whence you came. When people ask, "What's so great about self-publishing?" I tell them this story. Because now, for the first time, people will be able to read my grandmother's book. For decades it was stored in a box, nowhere near a bookstore where it belonged, but in a few weeks The Big Sling by Elizabeth Chater will be everywhere eBooks are sold. And it will be published by a family owned publishing company called Chater Publishing.
   It's an awesome time to be a writer.