Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Future of MY Writing Industry

Last week I blogged about the future of the writing industry, and in particular the future of my writing. Now I will officially announce the decision I hinted at then.

I will be releasing my new science fiction novel, MARS STATION ALPHA, all by myself. (*listens/hopes for applause*) It will be available this Saturday, December 3, in Kindle format, followed very shortly by paperback, Nook and Smashwords.

So, let the shameless self-promotion begin:

The colonists of the first space station on Mars have vanished.

Captain John Stanton leads a second team to the Red Planet, unsure what he’ll find. Originally assigned merely to relieve the first group, Stanton must now figure out what happened to them, and keep the same fate from befalling his own crew. As he investigates, the mystery deepens and the dangers multiply: remorseless sandstorms, virulent bacteria... perhaps even ancient Martian ghosts.

Stanton’s mission changes from relief, to rescue, to simple escape.

This will be the first of several novels I will be releasing over the next few months. In fact, MARS STATION ALPHA includes a preview of my upcoming legal thriller, AGGRAVATING FACTORS. The characters from that novel also appear in the soon to be released DEAD SHOE SOCIETY short story anthology.

I hope you enjoy the book, and I look forward to updating everyone on my journey into the exciting new world of publishing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Future of the Writing Industry

Read that title again. I said "Writing Industry" not "Publishing Industry." There have been a lot of articles and blog posts lately about the future of the publishing industry. I think the future of the publishing industry can be summed up in one word: Amazon. All the handwringing about its future stems from the fact that "publishing" boils down to taking someone else's work and putting it into a package that the consumer can enjoy. That was an "industry" when you needed a commercial building to house a printing press. Now it's a software program.

So this is about the future of writing, and specifically the future of my writing. To fully understand, here's a bit about my writing past, present, and future, following by a teaser non-announcement. Enjoy.

The Past
In 2000, I wrote my first novel. I didn't tell a lot of people though because unless you got your novel published you weren't really a writer. At least that's what I thought. I was fortunate to know a guy who'd had a couple of novels published by Simon & Schuster. His advice was clear: (1) get an agent, and (2) mine doesn't handle your genre.

So I queried agents--lots of them. And I got some full requests--several of them. But ultimately no bites. My story was a mystery with a supernatural twist. Commonplace today, but in 2000 the only thing I could compare it to were some cozies with a talking cat. And remember, this was back when querying--and submitting--was by mail. It was time-consuming and expensive. Moreover, agents expected 3-month exclusives. After a year, I had no agent but had busied myself writing the sequel. A year later, still no agent, but we'd had our first child. Whatever extra time and money I had couldn't be spent on trying to find a publisher. I saved the files on my old iMac, and stopped writing.

The Present
In 2009, two important things happened. One, I wrote a silly story for my son about a goofy paleontologist and a couple of kids travelling back to dinosaur times. Two, I listened to a radio show called Coast to Coast AM, where the guest said, "It's easy to get published anymore. Just write something, then post it on a website called" So I did, and I snagged a publisher: Nimble Books. I was published.

What I didn't fully realize was that my writing hadn't changed, but the publishing industry had. Nimble Books didn't and couldn't have existed in 2000. But with Amazon and print-on-demand, the big publishers didn't control everything anymore. Not surprisingly, agents no longer required 3-month exclusives. And genres that hadn't existed 10 years earlier will all over Micropublishers were flourishing, and giving opportunities to writers like me.

But not totally understanding that, I figured it was just that my talent lay in children's books, not adult fare. Until a writer a met through Twitter, the incomparable Shelly Picarella, invited me to write a short story for an anthology she was putting together about the seven deadly sins. Not exactly kid stuff. But I agreed, and wrote a decidedly non-children's story about Wrath. What mattered most was what came when the other authors read it: they liked it. As in, "Hey, this is really good." Maybe I was an okay writer after all.

Then I got involved in a similar short story collection with some different writers. Again I wrote an adult piece. Again the other writers said it was good. I decided to believe them.

The Future
Throughout 2010 and 2011, I wrote not only those two short stories, but two novels, plus some more children's stories. I wasn't entirely sure what to do with them all. Querying agents takes forever, and the odds are long, and I wasn't even sure anymore why I wanted an agent.

Then I read these blog posts by Jonas SaulMichael A. Stackpole, and Bob Mayer.

I think I've finally decided on my future as an author. Come back in a week and I'll share my decision with you. In the meantime, what to do you think is the future of the writing industry?