Days of Whine and Fire

Yesterday I said I did not mean to pick on the person’s fears for her job.  I meant that.  I realize that I sounded ever so slightly cranky (there are tons of reasons for the crankiness but “because I’m me” should suffice most of the time) but that was a reaction more to her tone than to her meaning.  

Oh, her meaning was stupid beyond belief and amounted to little more than a long sustained whine.  BUT that doesn’t mean SHE is stupid, or even that WHINING is stupid as such.  A long sustained whine with no rationality behind it is how humans react to hitting a wall or feeling they’re about to.  It was probably how our ancestors reacted to a tiger springing out of the undergrowth in front of them.  “Ah, ARRRRRGH!”

The difference is what comes after.  Some got sharp sticks and played the Maasai lion trick on the leaping tiger.  And some went “glurb” and died.

I’m not going to rehash it, but what ticked me off about her post was the implication that a) fiction writers have it easy, they just make up cr*p and b)self-publishers don’t even understand what books are – the ignorant newbies.  (This was not helped by her follow up post, in which she first failed to grasp that not only do I have 21 novels traditionally published – at this point I don’t really have any novel non-traditionally published, except perhaps A Touch Of Night and the reissue of Death Of A Musketeer, each a special case. – and then, once this point was brought home to her, that she considers me “tainted” by self publishing…  Even though 99% of what I have out – all but three short stories – were published in magazines an anthologies before.  And the whole idea that self publishing “taints” is probably blow by the fact that those three are my biggest cash cows every month.)  It’s entirely too bad of me to react to “tone” but as my grandmother would have said, “if you don’t have feelings, you weren’t born of humans.”

But in a way it was to bad I got sidetracked by the tone, because what I actually wanted to go into was the panic reaction, what it means, and how to counter.

Every writer I know has hit that panic reaction at one time or another in recent months.  The exceptions are, perhaps, those who haven’t realized what is happening to publishing yet.  (Oh, you’d think there are none.  Or at least none who aren’t cognitively impaired.  But there are, I guarantee.  H*ll, in honest truth, but for my agency going odd and a couple of other things, I might have been one of them.  And I’ll explain why.)  When we hit the panic, we all run around for a week or two or a month, or a year, as if our hair were on fire, screaming “the world is ending.”  And then…  And then we find paths out.  Which is what I want to talk about.

First of all, if you’re a writer, or a journalist, or one of the other professions where, looking ahead, you see the conveyor belt disappearing into a furnace – take a deep breath and realize you’re not alone.  This is being masked – somewhat – by the recession.  But, without going into politics, the recession is – IMO – a creature of unspeakable economic stupidity imposed from above.  (Partly from the hopeful and amiable belief that hobbling the US improves the lot of other people.  This is the sort of stupidity it takes years of education [and a willingness to ignore the real world] to achieve, which means … nothing.  If I ever get a time machine, I’m throttling Karl Marx in his swaddling blanket.)  That means sooner or later the idiocy from above quits (or we’ll all be more worried about whether we can get a leg of squirrel for telling a good story around the camp fire of what remains of human civilization) and when it does, if anything the pace of tech change is going to accelerate as we recover.  Part of it, of course, will be to cut out the severely dysfunctional parts of the economy without sinking more money into them.  And part of it will be because new tech HAS come on line but no one has invested in propagating it through society.  When they have money, they will, and the effect will be…  As though some evil villain just pushed the “fast” button on that furnace-headed conveyor belt.

(No, I’m not going to unpack the previous paragraph, not only because it’s unavoidably political, but also because it is, ultimately, fodder for several essays.  Just nod and say “Okay, Sarah, whatever, let’s assume what you said is true.”)

So, just trust me, that when economy recovers, we writers are going to be joined on the line of people going “argh” as the tiger springs out at them, by: in some order – journalists, teachers, photographers, artists, software engineers (trust me.  They’ve been in crisis since 2000 mostly because their skill is becoming less needed with machines that are more friendly to programing) and eventually real engineers (printable pieces will make a lot of difference.)  Worse, I can’t even imagine all the people who will be hit by the change – literally – and though I’d laugh if you said something like “chefs” or “car mechanics” I could think of a way – and not far off – that their professions AS EXERTED RIGHT NOW will be obsolete in no time.  I don’t even need to mention the two professions my kids are training for, right?  Doctor and aerospace engineer will FOR SURE change shortly after they start working.  Which feels many ways of wrong, but probably no “wronger” than where most writers find themselves.

You see most of my friends are between 30 and 50 or a little either way.  These were the ages at which you used to know what you were doing in your profession, and just take off.  Peak earning years and all that.  Oh, brother.

Part of the long sustained whine is because we writers, perhaps more than other humans – but we humans in general too – believe in stories.  We’re raised with stories.  Oh, sure, little Red Riding Hood, but also “don’t cross the street in front of a semi, or you’ll be a pancake on the pavement.”  It’s a story.  A just so story.  

All of us absorbed such stories growing up, as well as stories about uncle Hubert who worked hard and made good and uncle Eggbert (oh, him!) who went down to Rio where he lives in a compound peopled entirely by hookers and fueled solely by cocaine.

Okay, fine, my family has several uncle Eggberts, and it’s entirely possible that some boring families out there have none.  The point is that all of us absorbed, at some point, the idea of what it takes to make good at several points in life – what’s expected of us, as we were.  We are after all social monkeys, and monkey does what he sees, and, in this case, what he hears.

At my time of life – and a lot of the people panicking are somewhere between 40 and 50 – we expect our profession to be clear and the path ahead to make sense and be… well… expected.  And now, you know, instead of “rising acclaim, secure retirement” there’s the furnace.  Worse, because of the way things have gone in the most recent years – and no, not just in writing.  As tech change came in every field turned odd and sometimes evil (read Dilbert!)  – we are, most of us, nowhere near the acclaim and security we thought we’d attain.  And this might be “as good as it gets.”

Amazing thing is not that we’re indulging in long, sustained whining.  What IS amazing is that none of us has yet gone postal somewhere conspicuous.  My people must be better balanced than I thought.  (Or more confused.  Some psychology researcher should count the massacres in books recently.  We’ve always had trouble with that reality thing.)

The thing is, after the whine, for everyone so far, there is the moment of shaking yourself up and looking at the way of life that is dying.  Because in most cases it was SO dysfunctional these last ten or twenty years that constitute our entire working life, there is usually a time of looking at the field (whatever field) and seeing everything that was screwing us over and holding us down, and going “oh.” in relief.  Sometimes for those of us full of piss and vinegar there is – to quote a writer who is FAR more established than I – “If this new model works, I’m going to be very rude to a lot of people.”  And then… and then there is a time of thinking, a time of rebuilding.  And, at this point friends and I have been on THAT phase long enough that we have checked back with each other and compared notes.  I’m going to pass the notes along for those of you, writers and non writers alike, who are staring the furnace in the face.  Remember those are the notes NOW – for me about a year after the whine – and that the operative part of that catastrophic change thing is the “change.”  Things are changing all the time.  Retailers, tech, etc. change minutely almost daily.  We’re not at the end of the wave of change.  We’re barely at the first swell.  So, don’t take what I say and go, this is the plan for the next fifty years.  Go, rather “Um… good thing for a year or so, if I’m lucky.”  And note how much of it is the same you’d tell someone walking through a jungle full of hungry tigers – “be alert” – that’s what most of these translate to.

So, here’s the distilled wisdom from staring into the furnace (and by the way, the furnace, in most cases, is only a temporary fire, and it’s possible that you’ll emerge from it stronger than you went in, like steel.)

1 – You have to change.
Yes, I know, you’re settled into your routine, and one of the things I’ve learned through the last year of various physical ailments, is that ANYTHING can become routine.  You get used to doing six books a year, under pressure, upside down, in a sewer pipe.  (Okay, I’m exaggerating a little.)  And you like what it means: you’re still publishing.  You’re making money.  And you convince yourself things will get better.  But you don’t expect them to get better suddenly, and you don’t really, ever expect them to get better, worse and yes suddenly.  And you expect it will happen TO YOU not that you’ll have to make it happen.  So when you realize that the money or the publication is diminishing your first instinct is to panic, because it means you’ll have to change how you do things, and it’s going to be uncomfortable.  The bad news?  Yep, you have to change.  (The good news is that almost for sure things will get better – in the long run.)

2- It’s going to be a lot of work up front
Oh, G-d, is it a lot of work up front.  Part of this is because for a good long while, for many of us perhaps forever, you’ll have to work in both worlds.  Or you’ll have to work at what is bringing money in right then, and what will bring money in in the future, both of which will change as things change.  For me, right now, this means keeping up deadlines, helping NRP with covers AND trying to figure out how in heaven’s name to get my backlist up in a modicum of time.

3 – Take a deep breath and give yourself time
This will be different for each of you/each field.  Right now I have 25 (I think) short stories out, and I’m netting $100 a month from Amazon (other places take longer to report.)  I have about 250 in total stories I could put up, and I haven’t put any up in two months.  If you’re going “Are you crazy woman?  MONEY!  If the ratio holds – and so far it has – you could be making 1k a month.  Why aren’t you?”  Oh, G-d.  In this house we have a trinity of excuses we invoke for the “I just can’t” – it’s not logical, but it’s what we’ve heard someone use at some time – “Cheese, lasers, wife!”  Or in this case: “Health, kids, work.”  Or perhaps just a manifestation of Kris’ post about things bringing you to your knees.  Life has been VERY complicated, and emotionally I think I’m healing, as much has I’m (hopefully) healing physically.
I hate being late.  I’m compulsive.  But pushing seems to tie me up more.  So I’m taking deep breaths and going “I’m giving myself time.”  It will happen, once the kid graduates; once I know what is causing the endocrine disturbances, once a couple of other dominos fall in place, once life establishes itself again.
3a A caution – make sure you keep trying to fit the stuff into the routine.  Like, I’m trying to tell myself Saturday is publishing day.  So when normalcy comes back, that’s not squeezed out.
3b – you’ll make mistakes.  You’ll take the wrong projects indie and sell the wrong projects.  You’ll put awful covers on your stories (guaranteed); you’ll put up at least a story with ten typos (the others will have more, no matter how you hunt them.)  You’ll glorp a few formats.  You’ll forget the legal notice on a story.  You’ll make mistakes.  Don’t worry.  It’s more work, not the end of the world.  You’re only human. The goal is ALWAYS survive to fight another day.  If you’re alive, you’re learning.  Tomorrow YOU’ll be better.

4- Don’t Put ALL Your Eggs In the Same Henhouse.

Don’t put all your faith on one stream of income.  

Don’t go “traditional publishing is dying, so I’ll now make all my money from indie publishing.  CERTAINLY don’t go “I’ll now make all my money from writing epic novels about gay warriors” (What?  I’m sure there’s some people are!  I don’t have time to google it.  You’ll have to be pervie on your own time.)  

In the end doing that puts you in the same boat as if you’d stayed in traditional publishing.  Remember the thing about we’re only in the first swells of a tsunami of change?  If all you do is sell space nuns (what?) on Amazon, you’re setting yourself up to go under on the next wave.

For one at least at first, your stream of income from indie will be small – much less from one type of indie.  So you want to keep all your legs going.  Think of yourself as a multilegged mechanical, self-balancing spider (really?  I think of myself as that sort of thing ALL the time.)  In my case, say one leg is traditional.  One is indie.  One is art – and I need to put some of that up and on merchandise to sell.  From yesterday’s kerfuffle I realized another can be non-fiction.  As soon as I have time, I’ll resume the journalism one (two dying fields are better than none.)  And, who knows, as things stabilize health wise, there might even be stuffed dragons and fairy princess porcelain dolls to sell at cons.  (Maybe.  If I can find the time.)

5- Network
I come from a culture in which nepotism is viewed as a virtue.  A basic proverb is “He who has no godfather dies in jail.”  Being me, I rebelled against it.  And I still think that nepotism qua nepotism is a bad idea and makes a society sclerotic and not nimble at all.

BUT

We are social animals.  One thing I had to learn is that people reject you MUCH more easily if they’ve never met you – beyond the quality of your story.  Now it’s a little different, but networking is more important.  Networking and having a large group of friends is how you hear what is working and what isn’t, because the knowledge is so new there are no manuals yet – and no manuals that aren’t superannuated in five minutes.  Have as many friends as possible everywhere, particularly friends who are also trying to figure out the change.

6- Brainstorm
Every so often get together with your friends and brainstorm – not ideas.  Not stories.  Brainstorm how to make money.  Shoot wild ideas out.  Make crazy suggestions.  Look, until the kerfuffle yesterday, it never occurred to me I could sell my research as non-fiction BEFORE selling it as fiction/integrating it into stories.  But of course it should be possible (though the time thing might delay it.)  And I AM trying to be aware of new opportunities.  It’s just that the new model is so different we have to make tiny incremental changes.  So every so often, get your friends together, break out the alcohol (or whatever) and just talk.  “Hey, can you think of any other way to make money?  What if–”

And that’s all I know so far.  Like a traveler on the move in strange, mutable terrain, stay alert, move fast, be ready to see things in a completely different way (Sometimes a schmerp ISN’T a rabbit, even if he looks like one) and keep all your several legs on the run.

There’s gold in them there hills.  You just have to survive to get there.

52 responses to “Days of Whine and Fire

  1. “Cheese, lasers, wife”? I want to hear the backstory behind that one… :-)

  2. ppaulshoward

    Very good Sarah.

  3. I am genre challenged. :-) I have put up fantasy, supernatural, short stories, memoirs, biography, etc. etc. I have also written a couple of technical books although they didn’t make me any money either.

    So this change looks more of the same with new technology. i have been on the bleeding edge most of my life as an electronics tech and putting together my on PCs. Just get that surfboard out and say, “Weeeeeeeee.”

  4. I am pretty sure it is John Scalzi who had a deathless bit of advice for writers = try and have as many different income streams as possible: books here, e-books there, short stories in one publication, a column in another, commentary on a blog (with ads), a consulting gig. Try anything – you might not get paid very much for individual projects, but taken all together, you would have a nice income in hand.

  5. My my my my my … to quote my favourite Tommy Lee Jones line.

    It ain’t just writers. You wanna see REAL tantrumming? Look at the public employee unions. Look at any of the old union organized jobs. Look at what your auto mechanic has to know to deal with these new cars that are mostly computer (remember those problems they were having with sudden acceleration in Toyotas? Did you notice there are no longer mechanical linkages between pedal and brakes, pedal and accelerator?) Heck, frickin’ garbagemen have serious continuing professional education issues due to rapidly changing career requirements.

    Part of it is we are living too long. Part is things change more rapidly You kids don’t realize it, you’ve grown up in a world of rapid change. But I’m not quite sixty and I remember when television was three channels and everybody watched Ed Sullivan. I remember when a screwdriver and a good ear was all it took to tune your car’s engine – if you had a strobe light for it you were a serious geek. I am older than Xerox — used to, you had to painstakingly craft mimeograph masters, the kind where a single mistake meant you started all over again. I still own multiple typewriters and when I first played the computer game it meant programming on punched paper tape. And yeah, it was up hill both ways to school – there was a gravity anomaly (locally known as “the valley” midway.)

    So in one person’s adult lifetime we see change on a scale that used to require war to achieve. Change happens so incrementally that we often barely notice it — until we look back and realize that our friendly neighborhood book shop is not only gone, but three generations of the industry have passed us by. (Sigh – I remember the thrill of the hunt, having to search through multiple used-book stores and yard sales to find a particular tome, the excitement when, after years of looking, you finally found the desired item. Now? two, three clicks and it is en route.) And because we live longer our investment in knowledge is more often rendered useless.

    Was a time when, if you were a farmer you didn’t need to learn that much, and what you learned from your grandfather (who likely died at the ripe old age of 35) was pretty much what he learned from his gran’ther, handed down from his … Well, I don’t know about you, but given my druthers I would druther have to work at learning new skills than at shoveling the crap out of the stable.

    Yes, it is not only a Red Queen’s Race but one with a constantly accelerating pace. Yep, it is rough. The alternatives are rougher. No, you don’t have to run in this race, but it is wrong to deny others the rights you eschew. The status quo ante is gone, the moving finger has writ and the milk can’t be unspilt, the cliche made fresh again. The world sucks, get used to it — it is what keeps us all from flying off into space.

    • Agreed – I’m 51, so I’ve seen a lot of the changes you have. And then I think of my grandparents, who saw Kitty Hawk and the space shuttle. Or their grandparents, who saw the Civil War and automobiles and airplanes. (Dad said he asked his grandmother if she missed the good old days and she gave an emphatic NO – she said all she used to do was chase dirt.)

      • she said all she used to do was chase dirt

        I have a little volume of history Chasing Dirt – the American Pursuit of Cleanliness by Suellen Hoy.

    • I totally agree on the computers in cars (and ATV’s, grrrr) but Toyota was perhaps a bad example, since they never proved, it’s hard to disprove an anomolous fault because just because you can’t get it to happen doesn’t mean it might not someday, and the recall was basically forced by the government to push the ‘American’ car companies products, which had incidentally just been bailed out by the Feds in return for a large chunk of ownership in said companies.

      • Oh dear, no – all available evidence (buried by the MSM, for some odd reason) was that the Toyota problems were attributable to a) driver error b) driver fabrication (i.e., Lies, Falsehoods and Prevarications.)

        I only cited the Toyotas because that was when I learned they were no longer using mechanical linkages to connect the control device (pedal) and process controlled (brakes, fuel injection.)

        • I discovered that interesting fact when my Ford diesel decided not to come out of an idle, no matter how much you mashed the pedal (20 miles takes a LONG TIME at an idle in first gear). They are an electrical linkage, and the fairly simple solution of cleaning the connections on the electronic ‘Throttle Position Sensor’ cured the problem. Of course there wouldn’t have BEEN a problem if it was a mechanical linkage!

  6. Having put up a horribly long comment, I offer a short: They have met the future and they are shocked.

  7. And, who knows, as things stabilize health wise, there might even be stuffed dragons and fairy princess porcelain dolls to sell at cons.

    BJD? I have to work not to drool on copies of Haute Doll at the bookstore. Fortunately the head I want is just too expensive, as it is out of print, so I haven’t started on that yet. But if I should ever get that head and have her face up done, well…sigh

    I gather from vendors the best market for stuffed dragons is ren-fairs.

    • Or I might put them online and see who buys.

      • I foresee a day when buying anything in person is as quaint, as peculiar as buying it at the midwinter faire.

        • Ah, but the heart yearns, and so we have ren fares.

        • Not if you need to feel how the cloth feels, or see how it looks in your hands, or how durably it holds up, or how sloppy the sewing is on the actual model instead of the showpiece. And I suspect that clothing shapes and tones will always lie to us, even when we have computerized models of our bodies taken from our measurements and faces.

        • Laura Runkle

          I disagree. We are social animals, and the pleasure of the interaction is at least as much a part of the transaction as the object itself.

      • I have been thinking of zazzling some of my book covers on T-shirts. I wonder if that would be another income stream. ;-)

      • *waves forefoot* Can we place orders? Had a stuffed dragon in college – was a great icebreaker because it had wires in it and you could pose it on your neck/ shoulder. It attended graduation but did not walk due to a lack of class credits. I think it is in a box somewhere. Ah, to have Eslin Norna back again!

      • Ebay, the most amazing oddball stuff commands outrageous prices in bidding wars, while something you think should sell well will get no bids. I’ve given up trying to understand it and just look for something similar to what I want to sell and see how it’s selling; and I still get suprised.

  8. Am I the only one who looks at Ms Ogle and Mr May and sees echoes of 1870 riverboats with their promenade decks laden with beautifully clothed people mourning the lost glories of Teh South?

    • Oh yea – love those riverboats. I have heard from women who have worn the hoop skirts that they are really hard to wear (or sit in, etc). I prefer the clothing I wear today. Uniform- T-shirt and sweatpants. (I used to love jeans, but with the illness the fabric chafes.)

      • There’s an old mansion in southwest Indiana where my wife worked as a “Junior Docent” when she was 16. She would conduct tours and tell people about the house’s history while dressed in a Southern Belle style dress, complete with hoop skirt, and yes, she also said they were hard to wear, though she loved the dress.

        • Sounds like Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth, NH! Awesome place — they have people who know the history of their particular area, and they will chat with you IN CHARACTER. Knitting needles that were wood, because metal was needed to make chaff for airplanes in The War…

          It. Was. Awesome!

      • If you are standing, a hoop works well, especially in summer (air circulation). If you have to sit, go with crinolines, assuming that carrying the weight is not a concern. Do not attempt to drive a car in a four-hoop skirt. Just don’t.

        • I had an image and it wasn’t good. lol (hoop driving)

        • I’ve heard tell that if you’ve not done it before, sitting down in a hoopskirt can tend to make it fly over your head.

          Corsets I’ve found surprisingly comfortable. I was laced into one at a convention recently (trying to recall which) and they immediately took 10″ off my waist, and with a bit of adjustment increased that to 12″. I shouldn’t go that extreme, because it just looked odd and disproportionate to me. But it wasn’t uncomfortable. Actually, given that I had my belly sliced open not quite 2 years ago, it was really very supportive and secure-feeling.

        • Not even a…

          …wait for it…

          HOOP-TIE?

          >;)

      • There is a story that, when preparing for the 1933 production of Little Women, Katharine Hepburn called George Cukor in the middle of the night to proclaim that she had figured out how to use the loo in hoops.

        After making Sense and Sensibility Emma Thompson said that one of the hardest things was learning how to move naturally in the period corsets and clothes.

        Thank God for Coco Chanel, who took women out of corsets and started designing pants for them. Mind you, I like to get all gussied up, but am glad I am not called upon to do so every day. I have often wonder how Nellie Bly/ Elizabeth Jane Cochran managed it.

  9. I spent 26 years in the Air Force, and never had two assignments that were “alike”. I worked in imagery intelligence as an interpreter, and things were always changing. After I retired, I worked in computer software testing — another area where there was no such thing as “continuity”. Being TOTALLY retired (and disabled) is driving me nuts! I’m also used to moving every two to four years, and we’ve been here 22.

    As for watching the rest of the world evolve, many things excite me, a few disgust me, and a few confuse me. I adjust — I have to. The world certainly isn’t

  10. Yup on all this. Everyone is going through tremendous change, in publishing and out of it. At 51, I’m in my fourth (or more) career change – most recently, in my early 40’s, from IT programmer (when the entire department was outsourced to India) to CPA. Yes, it sucked, but it’s do-able. We are lucky in the US; many adults have access to education and training. We just have to accept that we have to keep learning and adapting, forever. There’s much worse fates, and we have so many choices. Fewer good choices than we might otherwise have, given the economy, but still good ones there, for many.

    (Also yup, on your description of the recession. As the old saw goes: you don’t build up poor people by tearing down the successful people. Why do so many people think that the pie is limited and the only way to get more is to take someone else’s? (And don’t get me started on people who think it isn’t fair that others have more – you notice they never mention the words “earn” or “worked for?”))

    As for the post that started all of this: I’ll forgive panicking, but people should be more careful when they put it in writing. I’m afraid this makes me question the good sense of the non-fiction writer who started this, and whether her version of reality is trust-worthy.

    • Why do so many people think that the pie is limited and the only way to get more is to take someone else’s?

      As George Bernard Shaw observed, “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

      Not to mention raking a nice commission off the top, with the opportunity to “encourage” Peter to pay protection.

  11. In case you have not seen it yet, the medical article in today’s (May 15) Wall Street Journal is about working with whiners. Coincidence?

    • Robin Munn

      No coincidence, it’s all part of Sarah’s sooper seekrit plan to TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!!! (Dramatic thunderclap)

      P.S. Argh, the stupid “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” option is going back to on-by-default. Time to complain to the wordpress.com admins again…

      • Did you read when da Blogfather wrote “It’s Sarah’s word, we just live in it”? Well… :-P (runs.)

        As for the thunder clap lets go to zee castle. Zee castle. castle. SIGH
        Clear blue sky. I miss Uberwald.

        • Robin Munn

          Yes, but which world?!? Should I be on the lookout for shifters, musketeers fighting vampires, or dark ships? It’s vitally important that I know! :-)

          • Or? What do you mean Or. The answer is YES. (Somewhere I have the self portrait I did for my art class, with a dragon pulling my hair, musketeers dueling atop of my head, a spaceship taking off and a panther on my shoulder. My teacher said “it’s supposed to be a self portrait” I said “It IS a self portrait.” :-P )

  12. If self-publishing is a taint, then include Barbara Hambly (barbarahambly.com), Diane Duane (dianeduane.com), Mercades Lackey (search on Amazon), Holly Lisle, Jim Hines, Elaine Cunnigham, Laura Ann Gilman (wasn’t she an editor (for Tor?) before she became an author?) who is running a Kickstarter to get an advance for stuff… and has run a successful Kickstarter previously! (Google on her name and “Kickstarter”). Add also Lee and Miller (Liaden) and arguably Lois McMaster Bujold (who seems to be having her agent do the technical work)…

    (Arguably, include me, though my non-self-pubbed stuff is pretty small: a short story in a couple of anthologies (one small-press, one DAW) and a lot of tabletop RPG material.)

    ((And anyone calling Barbara Hambly a “self-publishing hack” will meet my white-hot wrath. The woman’s a history teacher, fer godling’s sake! Her descriptive abilities have had me in awe for over 20 years! Like or hate her books, she’s no hack.))

  13. Look, until the kerfuffle yesterday, it never occurred to me I could sell my research as non-fiction BEFORE selling it as fiction/integrating it into stories. But of course it should be possible (though the time thing might delay it.)

    Hope the html works.

    Sarah, I’m really shocked by this. YOU were the one who suggested I take my monograph indie e-book! And that was some of my non-fiction research! Wow!

    • It’s how you think of yourself. I always think “Sarah Hoyt — fiction writer” I mean, I’ve done articles for people, etc, but not, you know… solo non fic. And you’re, you know, a scientist, I’m not. Seriously, this is what I mean by blogspots BLINDspots (curse you autocomplete fingers!). We ALL have them.

  14. (And I hope that health, life, work lets you breathe and get more stuff up, to bootstrap to more breaths!)

  15. What turned me to self-publishing was my relationship with Piers Anthony, of Xanth fame. I sent him, gratis, a four-page outline for a story. He was stumped to come up with a title and story using the letter “Y”. My suggestion was “Yon Ill Wind”. Needless to say, he used it. His final story was better than the one I had considered, but close enough I felt a sense of satisfaction, and indicated that I had good ideas.

    Piers has a huge section of his website dedicated to self-publishing, ranging from vanity press to ebooks to audio. I wrote a story (Hukata), did some fifty queries, got back a LOT of “sorry, if you’re not a “name” author with an established draw, we’re not interested” responses, and gave up the epub route at that time. I had that book, along with my other four, on my personal website for several years, until I had my fourth CHEAP ISP sold out from under me, and I learned about Amazon. I now have six books up on Amazon and B&N, and I’m 2/3 of the way through the next one. I don’t sell a lot, but as I’ve said before, this is hobby money for me, not bread and butter.

  16. I think a lot of us just always saw ourselves as that author up on stage next to a stack of our new bestseller. And of course, our legions of fans have come to shower us with adulation as we plunk down our latest hardcover for a spellbinding reading session. Changing the way that dream comes out as the world changes is difficult at best, but those who succeed will find a way to adapt.

    Of course, we could all use a Godfather. Will you be mine? :-D

  17. Pingback: Food for Thought | Nocturnal Lives