Going indie and writing morale

I’ve been at this writing business for a long time now — and if you count all the years I was writing without any success getting published even longer. I sold my first short story to Asimov’s in 2000, and it came out 2001. And that, of course, was far from the first work of fiction I wrote. I think I definitely put in my proverbial 1,000,000 word apprenticeship.

Despite the fact that a big part of my self-definition is that I’m a writer, some developments in the last couple of years were making the writing harder and harder for me, to the point where on occasion I was even considering whether I might not be happier just quitting. I had a fair amount of success with traditional publishing, with one novel and several dozen short stories published, but frustration was outweighing success.

That was when I decided to go it alone with my Arthurian novel, Yseult. And what a liberating journey it has been.

Those who read this blog on a more regular basis know that I like to complain about how much time you have to spend on marketing as an indie. For me, that is the big disadvantage. But even with the time spent marketing, I’m producing more now than before I started self-publishing. I think it’s because I’m more focused, I know there’s a potential audience out there that I can reach, I’m not dependent on agents or editors (who know that Arthurian fiction doesn’t sell, that a novel about Aphra Behn should be literary, not time travel, etc. etc.). I can take a shot on my passions, things that don’t fit into the market as the experts see it, I can reach readers who actually want more and don’t just reject me out of hand. To quote a couple of recent reviews I’ve gotten for Shadow of Stone and Looking Through Lace:

I have to give this novella 5 stars, although I’d like to rate it lower because I want a full-length book! Alas, it was clear when I bought it that it was a novella, even though I’d really like to read more about this world! (Did I make it clear I’d like to read more?!)

As a linguist myself, I was intrigued from the start of the synopsis! Nestvold’s storytelling and use of linguistic terms (and anecdotes)were not disappointing. 🙂 Her story was well-written and left me wanting to hear more tales about Dr. Toni Donato and her work!

… the twists and turns of the plot kept me wanting more. I was truly captivated with these stories, and am hoping she’ll continue the series following the lives of not only Yseult, Cador and their companions, but that of Kustennin and Riona as well.

What writer wouldn’t be inspired by feedback like that? It gives me so much more enthusiasm for the projects at hand, makes me impatient to finish them so that I can get on to the next one. Yes, I am once again behind in my own goals for myself. I had hoped to have a new version of Chameleon in a Mirror completed by the end of the month; instead, I am only 28,000 words into the novel, which means I still have two-thirds to go. But I’m pursuing the project with more joy than I have brought to my writing life in years. I’m brainstorming new ideas and making lists of novels and stories I need to write, and none of it feels like a chore. My dear fellow writers at the last Villa Diodati workshop tried to persuade me that I should market Chameleon in a Mirror to traditional publishers — I just said no. Never say never, but for the moment at least I am not going there anymore.

It’s been a good round of words. 🙂

A reminder: As part of the Summer Solstice Free Fantasy, I have FOUR books free today:

Yseult: A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur

Shadow of Stone (The Pendragon Chronicles, Book 2)

Dragon Time and Other Stories

Never Ever After: Three Short Stories

They still aren’t showing up free for me on Amazon.com (they are on .de and .uk), but I assume in the course of the day it will still happen. If you don’t have the books yet, please, be my guest!

14 thoughts on “Going indie and writing morale”

  1. I haven’t been writing as long as you, but I had exactly the same problem. It does help if you have published traditionally, but the endless waiting for replies just ended up demoralising me completely.

  2. 1,000,000 word apprenticeship? Orz. I still have quite a bit to go then. Well, I guess I knew that. I’ve always gone off of the 10,000 hours to master theory, and I know I haven’t done that much yet. ROW80 helped super big though.

    Awesome review on your novella!

    And I wish Arthurian fiction would sell more often. It’s a sub-genre I love to read, but never see anymore.

    1. Yeah, Dahnya, “mastery” doesn’t come overnight. 🙂 And I certainly wouldn’t consider myself master of anything, but at least I know I can produce publishable material! *g*

      I’m a big fan of Arthurian literature too, that’s why it’s one of the genres I write in. Didn’t have a clue when I started the mammoth project that New York now considers Arthurian unpublishable. But now we have alternatives. 🙂

  3. I’ve been publishing independently for about 4 1/2 years, but I’ve never tried to get a traditional publisher. I love the business side of things as well as the freedom to write on my own schedule. It would take a BIG advance to get me to go trad.

    I have Yseult on my Kindle and am waiting on a chunk of time to read it. It’s longer than most fiction I read, but I’m looking forward to it. I know I’ll love it!

    1. You have a lot more experience at this indie thing than I have. It’s a whole new apprenticeship for me. I’m not all that fond of the business side of things, but it is beginning to grow on me. Having control is a huge advantage, and managing the business side is just the price that has to be paid!

      Hope you enjoy Yseult!

  4. I confess being terrified at the idea of self-publishing. Yet I know that my stories would never meet approval by the majority of publishing houses… Topics are the kind that a lot of place are censoring; they are cross-genre pieces… yadda yadda. Basically, I’m a coward. But since I’m sure I’m short on my apprenticeship….

    Seriously though, I love hearing these things, because it makes the journey just that little bit less frightening, and a little more real. 😀

    1. You don’t have to immediately go for self-publishing, Eden. Especially if you occasionally write short stories or novellas, there are still a lot of arguments for traditional publishers. And short story markets are not as (*insert random negative adjectives*) to writers as a lot of book publishers are. They respond in a timely manner, often with some feedback; they don’t leave you hanging for years or ask you to write works which they then don’t buy … :/

      Glad my blog is of some help on your own writing journey. 🙂

  5. As you say Ruth, writing requires loving writing, whether one publishes traditionally, indie, or not at all. I suspect that has always been true. What is so true of your work, Ruth, is its inviting style for you are a storyteller and a fine blogger as well. I learn from your books and your blog.

    Thanks so much.


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