Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Reading the runes by Cathy Ace

How often do you step back and take stock of where you are in your writing life and where you want to go? Is this a New Year’s only thing, or do you do it more often? 

I’ll be honest and admit that while I had two traditional publishers, and contracts I’d signed lined up for me, I didn’t really have the time to step back and wonder if I was moving in the right direction as a writer. Of course I always wrote the best book I could, and I still want the next one – and the next one – to be even “better”. 

When I did wonder about direction, back in 2017, I thought I’d have a chat with my agent. She had no guidance for me, no input at all – said it was my decision. (No, she’s no longer my agent!) 

Then 2018 was a Big Year for me – putting all my eggs into one self-carried basket by setting up an incorporated company and self-publishing a novel early in 2019. 

I’m thrilled it’s become an amazon #1 bestseller, and the reviews and blurbs have been fabulous; I’ve also been able to support it in the marketplace in ways a traditional publisher would never have done (at least, my two publishers never did) and I know sales numbers have been better because I’ve been in control of pricing in a way I never was – and still am not, nor will I ever be, for my twelve traditionally published titles. But it’s a lot of work, of a type I never thought I’d be able to (or even want to) master. The learning curve has been steep – with perilous chasms. I hope I don’t forget everything I learned before I get to use all that knowledge again!

The coveted orange badge - for a #1 bestseller!

Now? I’m working hard on my next novel of psychological suspense, and – at the moment – it’s something I’m also planning to indie-publish. But if an agent runs towards me promising a bumper international auction and the undivided attention of all the world’s biggest houses, I might change my mind!

“Am I doing the right thing?” is a question I’m constantly asking myself.

The publishing industry continues to evolve, and not always in what appears to be a terribly constructive manner. With Midnight Ink being shuttered, Seventh Street Books under new ownership and Poisoned Pen Press also having a new owner, the landscape in publishing terms is in a fair amount of turmoil, with many authors feeling the chill of “limbo” as they wait to hear firm news about their forthcoming (already submitted) titles, and beyond. Finding a publisher has never been easy – now it seems more daunting than ever, even if you’re not harboring secret wishes about a Big House wanting you to become one of their marquee authors (congratulations to all those who manage this, and strength to your writing arms!). 

True, there are any number of small, independent houses, which offer editing, cover design and access to distribution – but they operate in a fragmented way, it seems, and I’ve had my fingers burned this way before…both my traditional publishers now rely on Print On Demand services – and, frankly, I can do that for myself, without the cut in the percentage of income, thank you very much. Do I really want 25% of 70% of the sale price of an e-book, when I can get 70% all to myself, if only I’m prepared to spend a day mastering set-up and formatting? It sounds great…but…what about not being able to get onto bookstore shelves without a sales team? Well, it turns out any house only gets a book onto shelves for about 6 weeks, and then there are the dreaded returns, which can see “sales” figures slashed, if the book doesn’t…well, sell! 

I’m fortunate in that I have been traditionally published, and have managed to garner reviews for organs such as Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, The Globe and Mail etc. Beyond blog reviews -  for which I am always incredibly grateful - I have also received a review in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine since I “went indie”, and I am hoping it won’t be too long before other mainstream reviewers begin to recognize there are some excellent indie-published titles which deserve their attention. But I don’t have a crystal ball, so who the heck knows!

Thus, I live in a constant state of uncertainty about whether I’m doing things the best way, but I do seem to have decided that I have to take my fate in my own hands. And that a novel of psychological suspense is going to be my next book. And that I might write a ninth Cait Morgan Mystery after that. Very soon after that…The Corpse with the Crystal Skull is calling me…but I cannot answer until I’ve got this twisted tale of deceit and (possibly) revenge out of my head. I promise to keep you updated with how my plans are going. 

NEWS UPDATE: I'm delighted to be able to tell you that my first indie-published novel, THE WRONG BOY, has won the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) Bronze medal for Best Regional E-Book - Fiction...for the e-book on any fictional subject that best represents the region in which it is set. I am THRILLED because one of the other challenges when you are self-published is that your work is not eligible for most award this is a great feather in my cap - WOOT!

 Please consider reading my books? You can click here to reach my website, where they are all listed, blurbed and reviewed!


Susan C Shea said...

More power to you, Cathy, for seizing the moment and with such success. Your remarks about the shifts in the current publishing universe have a lot of authors rattled. How many of us will have the energy and marketing skills to step into self-publishing?

Dietrich Kalteis said...

That's a very interesting post about self-publishing, Cathy.

Cathy Ace said...

It's a challenging time...self doubt needs to become self reflection for many, I think.

Cathy Ace said...

For many, self reflection is becoming self publishing.