The Path to Publishing by BC Brown
In 2007 I danced a jig of happiness. A publisher - an actual publisher - wanted to print my work! I scooped up my twenty pound dog and danced like a mad woman around the living room. I opened a bottle of wine and drank. I called my husband, my sisters, my mom and told them all the good news.
What I didn’t do was research the publisher. And I’ve paid for it for the last seven years, biding my time and waiting out the horrendous contract and shady royalty statements and pressure to “buy out” my book in order to have the rights released to me.
My first lesson was the hardest. I was out of the pan and into the proverbial fire. And I learned a very valuable lesson. I’m a good writer, but I know shit about publishing, contracts, marketing, and sales.
I had three years to learn and correct my mistake. I wrote by night, researched by day, and finally when my next novel was due to come out I published - by myself. I refused to depend upon the whim and honesty of a publisher to pay me what I was owed, to make my book available to retailers, when there were so many options open to do it myself.
So, after what I thought was extensive research, I hit ‘enter’ and self published my paranormal mystery novel, A Touch of Darkness. What I learned, however, was that, despite all my caution to be less excited and more responsible, I still knew very little about marketing a book.
Fortunately, this time, I’d banded together with a group of other authors who knew a little more than I did. Or, at least, they had good ideas about what was supposed to happen after the book was ready for print. One friend reminded me about technology and convinced me to make my book available in e-format. Another friend helped me by sharing marketing venues and ideas. Other friends caught mistakes I’d missed in the initial editing process (yes, a mistake that as a newbie I did commit was the dreaded ‘self edit’) and helped me correct them.
Was I better my next publishing round? A little.
For my third project, I was contacted by an author collective to contribute to a short fiction anthology. Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction was born! But there was still so much to learn. The anthology constituted mostly self published authors who, like myself, were still learning how to do the whole thing - writing, editing, marketing, cover art, royalties, venues... and the list goes on and on.
With every project I’ve approached, I’ve gotten wiser. I’ve learned. Not only how to be a better writer (which is always important) but how to be a better author.
My fourth project, my sequel paranormal mystery, A Touch of Madness learned from the lessons of the past. My editing was improved, my cover art improved, my pre-marketing thought out in advance. But with this venture I learned something new - how to use social media to my advantage. It was something foreign and new. I had been, to that point, a one-trick social media pony. I learned it had a hard impact on my sales.
Enter my fifth project. The same author collective I’d worked with for Fracas contacted me once again. They wanted to come out with a wholly unique take on a ‘love’ anthology. And they wanted to do it wiser than before. Quixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories was compiled and released. It taught me another lesson: Friendships and business rarely mix.
I’d hoped that the previous lessons learned had been taken to heart. It seemed that it was only lip service. Authors were in the dark about the whole process right up to the moment of release. We didn’t have a chance to review any of the other work in the anthology, pre-market, or collaborate. For a collection of self published authors under a collective umbrella, we had and have had little to do with the whole project.
Another lesson learned. (But I can input that the artwork included with the project was very lovely and has given me a contact for future work on other items.)
So, to recap, what have I learned so far in seven years of publishing? Research who wants to publisher you; learn as much as possible before you hit ‘enter’; don’t expect other people to know more than you, take command and know everything you need to in order to get it right; friendships and business are sometimes enemies.
What haven’t I done yet? Trad or small house publishing... Until now.
This year (late 2013) I signed on with a small publishing house to have my short fiction, Extra Ordinary, included in a fantasy anthology. The experience has been wholly different. I’ve had to take a more hands off approach. Not something that, in my previous years, is easy for me given the hard lessons I’ve learned.
Why did I decide to do it then? I did my research. The small house I choose to submit to proved a good presence by being present at a convention I attended for exposure. This showed me that even though some of their authors were not able to attend they still promoted the heck out of all their published - actively and in person. Another part because I could get an actual eye on their cover art, speak with their editors and agents, and see their catalog. Then there was their contract. Straight forward, very reasonable, and (after having it looked over by an expert - see, mom, I do learn!) was sound. At least for a small piece of fiction in a large anthology.
While I do not have a release date yet, I look for my piece Extra Ordinary to premiere in A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court in 2014.
At this point, I’ve picked up the title of ‘hybrid’ author. This being someone who both self publishes and also publishes through a house (small or large). It’s taken me seven years to like where I’m at with my publishing process. I’ve had hard knocks the likes of which would crush the dreams of some and turn them away from writing, and I’ve had small successes that have given me happy joy-joy moments. But I’m still not satisfied.
The art of writing is an ongoing process. A skill that is never complete, never perfected. Publishing has proven the same. It is an ongoing learning process. I don’t believe that anyone has all the answers and knows exactly what their doing all the time. They have a good idea where to start, like me, and keep learning and growing along the way.
What I can say is my path has been bumpy and not paved with yellow bricks like we all envision. It’s made me more of a realist than I ever was. It’s also made me tougher, stronger, and more determined to get it right with each project. From dismal failure on my first project to moderate success on my latest ones, I’ve come to realize that taking a different path might have been easier in the long run but it might not have made me better than I was. To me, the journey to publishing has been as fun (if frustrating) as the skill in crafting the tales themselves.
Abigail St. Michael, a former cop, has joined the recently growing ranks of metaphysicals, individuals with abilities outside that of normal human nature. When a murderer stalks her town killing children, Abbey uses her ability of touch clairvoyance to hunt him down. Her only roadblock is that her murderer seems to have his own unique talent, the ability to 'wipe' his victims and their surroundings of any metaphysical energy. With little physical evidence and no supernatural evidence, Abbey is forced to rely on instinct and luck to solve the case. However both seem to have taken a permanent vacation as the victims keep piling up with the killer's escalating blood lust. "...emotion-wrenching, gritty, eerie, sexy..." Toni Sweeney, author of Love, Vampire Style **WARNING: Contains strong language, violence, and adult situations.**
B.C. Brown was born with six fingers on each hand endowing her with super powers, thus enabling her to fight crime. When a freak Cuisinart accident severed the additional digits and her powers, B.C. was forced to fall back on her secondary talent - writing. Now she lives between the pages of a book - whether she has written it or not. Until she finds the surgeon to restore her fingers and powers, she has published three novels to date. She has also been included in two anthology collections. She dabbles in all genres and is always in the mood for a challenge to branch out. You can follow her crime fighting or writing at twitter or facebook.