I’ve hit a bit of a crossroads in my writing career (I use the word career loosely). I’m at a point now, with three novels and over thirty short stories under my belt, where I have to start thinking a bit more about where I want this to go.
I won’t go into the grim details of the traditional publishing world, because there are many blogs out there that say the same thing (check out Dean Wesley Smith’s, for example). The bottom line is this: breaking into the traditional publishing market (a book published by Tor, DAW, Penguin, etc) is very, very difficult. Many people thought (and still do think) that this is the only way to get a book out there, the only way to have your book nationally validated by professionals who give you a stamp of approval when you sell a book to them. “This is good,” it says. “This is a book that has been ordained by God as something that other people should read.”
I think that’s probably wrong. And there’s a host of evidence to prove it.
The fact is that seal of approval is only furnished by one man in one company. One editor, sitting at a desk in New York, liked a book. He’s probably the only person in the entire company that has read the thing from cover to cover even after it’s hit the shelves. But what if, instead, a hundred readers find it on Amazon or Smashwords or Wherever.Com and forty percent of them like it. Well damn – that’s forty times the amount of validation I ever wanted. If it bombs, so what? Not every story is for every reader. Some stories aren’t for any reader. I really don’t have anything to lose except the time spent doing something that I love: writing.
To date, I’ve cataloged over 750,000 words written in just the last year and change. The general rule in this business is that most writers have to squeeze out 500,000 to a million words before they hit their stride. But I realized today that I haven’t been counting anything I’d written before this period. If I did, I can’t imagine where that number would be.
Now, I’m not saying I’ve hit my stride. And I certainly am not saying that I don’t have anything left to learn. On the day I die, face-down on my keyboard, I will still have not learned or mastered everything I want to. But there’s no reason I should wait until I hit the last key at the ripe old age of 88 to believe that my work is worthy of the publishing world.
(By the way, when I die on my 88th birthday, people will read this post and be chilled to the bone.)
So I’d like to announce my intention to start now. In the next few months, expect a stream of short stories to start appearing on Amazon and all the other places that I’ll call the Writer Proving Grounds. They’ll be cheap. They’ll be short. Hell, they might even be bad. But they’ll be there. And soon after that you’re going to start seeing novels with my name on them, too.
I’ve been saying that I want people to come with me on this crazy journey of writing, and it’s high time that I make it happen. But not by writing blog posts – by you reading my stuff.
Watch for it.