So I have some good news to report, and something aside from a theme story to post. As of 2-26-13, the first draft of Majestic - a sequel to my novel Marvelous - has been completed! 52,000 words over 26 days - that's a rate of just around 2,000 a day (the word count is approximate). Obviously some days were less, and some more - for the first couple weeks I average 4k per day on business days. I usually write on the train, when I'm not teaching classes online, and I find that the built-in three hours a day I spend commuting really gives me time to pump out some words - if I can make myself write, that is. For now, I'm going to let it sit on the back burner while I unwind. Well, that and actually read it. I know a couple people who have been bugging me to get a look at it.
Of course, the interesting thing for me was that Marvelous hasn't even been published yet, and here I am writing a sequel. It seems to me that this would make the success of the second book inextricably tied up with that of the first. That's really had me thinking a lot about what I want to do with these books. There are two real options available, it seems - traditional publishing, and self publishing.
Traditional publishing, like it or not, provides an author with the reputation of a published writer. Someone else has purchased the work, vetted it, and put it on sale. My original goal with writing was really just to see what came of it, and ultimately see if my skills are "good enough" for the world at large. A traditional publisher does this through a clearly defined path, and though the royalties for all but the top dozen or so authors are not as great as you'd think, it can still provide a steady income as a second job.
Self publishing is kind of an end run around traditional publishers. There are other bloggers (such as J.A. Konrath and Chuck Wendig) who have delved into the numbers and come up on the side of self-publishing. And they do very well for themselves. However, taking a look at the community as a whole you get a sense that while indeed there is a wide variety of motivations among people who choose to self publish, there are still just a few primary motivations. Some people self-publish because they have enough of a name where it makes them more money with the higher royalty agreements you see for self-published ebooks. Others self-publish because they feel like their work was cast aside prematurely by the traditional publishing world, and that if they got it in front of customers it would take off. But perceptions of both classes are impacted by the overall stigma of self-publishing, and they aren't helped by the simple fact that there are a lot of very bad self-published books out there.
Which, as my rambling winds down, brings me back to what I was originally trying to write about - what I'm going to do with the book. Marvelous is tied up in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for the moment, until I get definitive feedback and earn an exit from the contest. I'm trying not to be too optimistic about my chances, but based on the agreement I signed when I submitted I need to let the contest run its course. At that point I will start submitting to agents. As a new author I have no cachet and no name recognition, meaning I'll end up in a lot of slush piles. However, I really don't intend to do this forever. I have a busy day job and a part time job that also eats up a not-inconsiderate amount of time, and honestly after a while I'll just be beating a dead horse. So my current plan is to try and obtain representation for a year - until June, 2014 - at which point if I have seen no progress I'll self publish the duology as ebooks.
Of course if I meet success or feel overall better about the submission process as I go through it I may make alterations to this approach, but this is my current plan. Hopefully by the time next June comes around I'll have a couple more books under my belt (I have some ideas on the back burner that I'm starting to flesh out).
Have any of you written a novel and had it published, traditionally or otherwise? What are your thoughts?