Depressing discoverability issues, an update, and #WIPpet Wednesday

The other day, I read a great post by Chuck Wendig about book discovery, and how much more difficult is getting to find “channels of discovery” as an indie author. As long as you don’t mind profanity, I highly recommend it for anyone who is considering going indie or has already self-published. He provides a lot of numbers, a lot of uncomfortable opinions, some suggestions for what to do to get out of the deluge, and a nice graphic I’m going to link to, illustrating how tough we all really have it:

Quoted from terribleminds

The thing is, it’s getting harder and harder to be an indie these days. Partly it has to do with the mountains of ebooks being published that Chuck points out, and the way many readers are starting to feel burned and are shying away from self-published books. Another thing playing a role is that traditional publishers have started wising up and are no longer making the same mistakes they were a year or two ago — mostly regarding pricing. A couple months back, Toby Neal wrote a great post about this, and the “indies getting clobbered” meme bounced around the net for a while. (You can read a good response with more details at The Digital Reader.)

Does this mean that we should all return to traditional publishing? For me, it does not. And that goes for anyone who writes in a genre that publishers think doesn’t sell, like Arthurian fiction, or who writes stuff that’s hard to put a label on, like time travel with a literary plot and a romance sub-plot that doesn’t end happily-ever-after. (Yes, if you read last week’s post, you are right in assuming that’s my non-genre description for Chameleon in a Mirror.) Or anyone who doesn’t want to wait for over a year to never get a response from an agent or a publisher and has had to pull a submission more than once in order to be able to submit a manuscript elsewhere. Or anyone who has been traditionally published already, and for whatever reason does not want to go that route anymore.

We have to develop much thicker skins — and we have to try even harder to make sure we put out a quality product. That’s the only way we self-published authors can win back readers we’ve lost.

I, for one, haven’t given up yet. And that’s what my update is all about. ๐Ÿ™‚ I still haven’t managed to get Chameleon in a Mirror published — but soon, I hope. Making the changes from the line edits sent me took longer than I’d expected. But I’m done now, and I’m on to formatting. I had a bit of a setback yesterday, though — for some reason, Word ate all my italics when I was about halfway through with the formatting. I only noticed when I saw that a title of one of the many Restoration plays I mention was no longer in italics. Since I didn’t know when it happened, I figured it would be too dangerous to try and recover the version with italics using “undo”, so now I’m manually going though the HTML version I created to get a clean copy and searching for the HTML tag “EM”. Sigh. It might have been easier to just start reformatting from the HTML file, but I’m already 7 chapters in, and it doesn’t make much sense to start over again now.

Have I ever mentioned before that I really don’t like Word?

Anyway, that’s the sum total of my update: edits added, formatting almost done.

Now on to the fun part of today’s post, WIPPET WEDNESDAY! My math for today’s date is simply to add up all the digits: 2 + 6 + 2 + 0 + 1 + 4 = 15. So here are 15 short paragraphs from Chameleon in a Mirror, the next scene in Billie’s pov, after the string of her lute snapped. (For the sake of clarification, when she arrived in the past, everyone assumed she was male because of her pants, her height, and her slim build.)

The door of the changing room opened, and Aphra entered. The playwright took in the lute on the floor and Billie’s reddened eyes and shook her head. “A broken string is nothing to cry about, Will,” she said gently.
Billie sighed and wiped her face with a Kleenex she pulled out of the pocket of her jeans. “It wasn’t the string.”
“I imagine not. Is London too great a challenge for you, fresh from the colonies as you are?”
“I — it’s not London. I’ve been places you probably never heard of, places you couldn’t even imagine.”
Aphra sat down next to her, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Did you run away, lad?”
“Not exactly. It’s not what you think.”
“‘Tis rarely what people think.”
At that oh so appropriate answer, Billie found herself chuckling, despite the hopeless situation she found herself in. Or imagined she found herself in.
She took a deep breath, reaching for the top button of her silk blouse. “I’m not what you think either.”
“Now, lad, restrain yourself!” Aphra said sternly. “There are still many others in the playhouse. I’ll –” Her voice died away as Billie opened her blouse to reveal her undershirt and minimal amount of cleavage.
Aphra’s eyes went wide and she let out a ringing laugh. “Excellent masquerade, Will! Or what should I call you now?”
Billie raked her mind for a name that might suit and lit on the lines she’d recited in front of the mirror. “Clarinda.”
“I see you do not yet trust me,” Aphra said with a faint smile. “So be it. I, too, have my alias. You may call me Astrea — most people do.”
Apparently Billie’s chosen name was in the pastoral pseudonym department, the kind given to figures in poetry and plays; Aphra had just offered her own pen name in exchange. But hey, how was she to know? She was a literary critic, not a historian. Which didn’t bode well for her if she really was in the seventeenth century, and not breathing shallowly on the floor of a classroom at Blackfriars, plagued by unusually vivid dreams.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If youโ€™d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. ๐Ÿ™‚

24 thoughts on “Depressing discoverability issues, an update, and #WIPpet Wednesday”

  1. I suspect the market is probably flooded with indie authors right now, so it’s probably hard to get a foothold. I once heard someone remark that you really needed at least a dozen or so published works to your name before you really started making money.

    I’m probably going to go with a digital publisher, but I’m open to options and I admire anyone who’s going the indie route. I’m not opposed to going the traditional route, but I’ve heard about how some authors have been burned and so I’m cautious. Every path has its perils, I suppose. Good luck with yours, Ruth! Your book sounds really interesting.

    1. Oh, I already have over a dozen indie books out there, Denise! But the problem is, a lot of them are short stories or short story collections, which don’t sell well. Maybe that statement should be revised to a dozen novels, preferably in a series. ๐Ÿ™‚

      And yes, I’m one of the burned ones in traditional publishing, but I don’t want to talk about it in detail, since I’m not completely free yet …

      1. I understand. Yeah, the person probably meant full-length works. Right now I’m writing a lot of novella-length books; I’m hoping those will sell okay. The novella, especially in romance, seems to be making a comeback thanks to digital publishing–so we’ll see. Good luck on your journey, Ruth! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. It’s not easy getting out there is it. But at least we can write the books we want to write in the hope that people who do like them will find them.

    Great WIPpet again. I always enjoy characters talking at cross purposes.

    1. Exactly, Raewyn. Since I apparently tend to write the kind of books the Gatekeepers think are superfluous, despite my traditional publishing successes in the short story realm, I seem to be destined to be an Indie writer. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Thanks for linking that article – it was both amusing and interesting. Don’t lose faith, though – just keep plugging away!

    Love the snippet! Revealing one’s lady parts is always rather … titillating! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I absolutely love that last line, Ruth.It shows that touch of dry humor in the midst of what is a confusing and, on some levels, a possibly horrifying situation. I mean, as much as some of us say we’d like to travel back in time, to wake up there would indeed be a shock.

    I’m a control-freak, so for me Indie was an easy choice. Also, I didn’t like to play the waiting game. Once I was confident in FOHK I wanted it in the hands of anyone who cared to read it. I don’t know what will become of CBC when I finish. I think I’ll go indie with it, but part of me is considering trying for an agent with it. Right now, I’m more concerned with getting it done.

    1. Yup, Kathi, with this book I’m really trying to create a more “realistic” take on time travel (at least psychologically, since all else in moot … probably *g*)

      And, yeah, I like the control I have over my works as an indie too, another argument to stay with the route I’ve chosen.

  5. My new thing is that I’m spending a year reading books that are self- or indie-published. There is a TON of great stuff out there, and I love it because I like reading things that don’t fit neatly into a genre. I plan to go either of those routes and not traditional. I hate to say it, but I’m not in need of financial gain, so I have a lot of options. I’ve thought a lot about this, and I see writing as art every bit as much as painting. We would never tell a painter to only do commercially appealing work! (Well, or we would, but the painter would be like, “Yeah, as if.”) Yet we tell musicians and writers ALL THE TIME that they should do it that way. Is some of it lousy? Yep. But there’s a boatload of really awful traditionally published stuff out there, too (including a lot that gets acclaim but is honestly just boring, tropey, and otherwise badly written–just usually for different reasons than self-pub).

    Anyway, I loved, loved, loved the snippet. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Aw, thank you, Amy! I really, really hope I can have the novel out by the end of the week, and then I will be looking for reviewers who might be interested in a free copy. Watch this space. *g*

      Yeah, once upon a time I didn’t have to worry about writing income either (and I don’t now either, really, since hubs earns enough to support both of us, but being dependent bothers me). I have to admit, I miss that security, and it affects my choices as a writer, even though it wouldn’t have to. But it’s primarily a psychological problem. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I will read that article, Ruth, and it’s really interesting to read your take on indie and traditional publishing. Having a (very) thick skin and putting out a quality book makes a whole lot of sense.

    This extract is fabulous. I think I’ve said before that I love this period you’re writing about and having a few years ago researched and written an article about Aphra Behn I love the way you’ve brought her to life. Billie’s in quite a situation but a very interesting one!

    1. Always cool to find someone else who knows about Aphra. ๐Ÿ™‚ She’s one of those figures who if made them up, no one would believe you.

      Like I mentioned in the comments above, I will soon be looking for folks interested in a free review copy. *g*

  7. Never give up. All it takes is just that one special story that you wrote to catch that one special reader for you story to go viral. Just keep on writing. You will find that story soon.

    1. Oh, if I were inclined to give up, I would have done so long ago, Linda. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been writing for most of my life, and the first incarnation of Chameleon in a Mirror is almost 20 years old.

  8. Since I first read a piece of Chameleon in the Mirror, I have peeked at a few things about Aphra Behn. Fascinating and tragic… I see why you describe the story as a romance without a happily ever after, Ruth. And of course, our Billie knows Aphra’s story as far as history has allowed her too, so she knows how things end; but does she ever ask about the first 27 years? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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