Thursday, June 16, 2016

Good news! Readers are now the gate-keepers to good books!



The writing industry is changing. And in my opinion, for the better! I am the author of more than 17 historical romances. I started my career back in 2005 when I received my first contract with a traditional publisher for a Christian Pirate trilogy, and it’s been a wild ride ever since--a fun ride!  But, much like a roller coaster, it was a ride I felt I really had no control over. There were highs. There were lows. There were scares and disappointments. And lots of books to write with tight deadlines!  What many readers don't understand is that it is publishers and the industry in general that dictate the content of those books.Yup. A writer will submit multiple proposals for novels, but it is the publisher who decides which story line they like, if any. More often than not, they reject each one and send the writer back to the drawing board. Or sometimes, they even tell the writer what type of story they want.. .i.e. time period, general plot, etc.  Rarely does a publisher accept the story the writer really wants to write!

The reason? Publishers are businesses and businesses must make a profit and hence, they must make hard decisions about what type of books they think will make them that profit. I don’t always agree with their decisions, nor with the decisions of most publishers and agents in the industry, but I do understand their trepidation to try something new.  Especially in this tough economy. The problem with this fear is that publishers tend to play it safe and only publish books by authors who are selling well or books in genres that are selling well. They rarely step outside the box and publish something new and interesting, which leaves the reading consumer with so few choices. Most readers don’t understand that when they go to the book store and browse the shelves, they are only seeing a tiny percentage of all the great books that are out there. (I’m talking about books that are both published and not published).  Even if a book gets published, it isn’t guaranteed a spot in a book store because stores only purchase best-sellers from best-selling authors. Take it from someone who knows this firsthand. Then of course, the great books that never got published don’t stand a chance.

With no insult intended, I liken agents, publishers, and book stores to three trolls guarding the bridge that leads to a successful career as an author.  They are doing their job by only allowing certain authors to pass and keeping the rest back. But in the process, they are also holding back from the reader a host of fantastic books.   It took years for me to finally realize this. I was new to the business, na├»ve, and extremely thankful to have a contract. So, when my publisher told me I couldn’t write about this or that, and they wanted stories set in this time period, but not in that time period, I complied because I so desperately wanted to have my writing published. But somewhere along the way after 14 books, I got burned out. I lost my love of writing, my spirit of creativity, and sometimes even my desire to continue.
I thought I had some really cool and unique ideas, but no one seemed interested.  Some of them my agent wouldn’t even send to publishers. The rest, my publisher rejected. They wanted prairie and Amish stories, they told me, not pirates or mermaids or Vikings or time travel!

Then the E-book craze began. The world of the Kindle and Nook and Ipad, and all of a sudden these online companies made a way for authors to upload and sell their own work! And I found myself getting excited. Finally I could write what I wanted to write, what I was passionate about, what inspired me.  Finally I could read books that interested me, in time periods that interested me. This was such great news for both Readers and Authors!  Now, readers have a much wider variety of books to choose from online stores. 

The only problem?  Readers must become much wiser consumers. Since agents and publishers quickly discarded poorly written books from even entering the publishing arena, without them, many amateur writers are throwing junk out on the market. So the reader must become the troll for their own specific tastes and requirements.

The good news?  There are tons of great writers putting their masterpieces out there in a multitude of genres, time periods, voices, and interest.  This is also good news for an author like me because now I can write the story I want to write. I have just written and published my fourth independent novel, Charity's Cross, a clean adventurous pirate story filled with love and romance. I hope you’ll check it out. (Over 150 5 Star Reviews!)

Buy from Amazon

In the meantime, it’s a new world for both writers and readers. An adventurous world, and in my opinion, a far better one!  Thoughts?


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14 comments:

  1. PTL for self-pub and the ebook craze!! So grateful for your self-pub books, 'Charity's Cross' is my fave of your books - beautiful!!

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  2. Oh, you made my day with this: "I liken agents, publishers, and book stores to three trolls guarding the bridge." Very well said, MaryLu. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Tamara. I hope they don't find the analogy insulting. LOL

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  3. Even though I prefer actual paperbacks, it's great having more options with ebooks. And may I say that your books are THE BEST!!!!!!

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  4. I am definitely in favor of indie publishing or however a writer can self publish! And I know there can be alot of "junk" put out on the market - but if you're a discerning Christian reader, you can easily tell real fruit from fake fruit - take a bite! With the advent of ebooks and kindles (etc), you can download a sample and read the first couple of chapters before buying - and even if you get "sucker punched" on a first time buy, you won't buy again - and word travels quickly if an author is "hero" or "zero". Watch and read reliable blogs like ya'lls and Relz Reviews and you know who's gold and who is chaff. Plus good authors have beta readers who stand watch and help guard their work and integrity. A good author holds her(him)self accountable to God and others - and of course there is the Holy Spirit who is our partner and inner conscience to guide us in life and our work. I agree with you (and I feel there was an "amen" from Tamara) that I don't need agents, publishers or book stores to press, pressure, or steer you in your writing or me in the direction of what I will buy and read - - that's the Holy Spirit's job - He guards the bridge between your heart and hand in writing and my eyes and my heart in what I buy and read. When I let "man" decide my path, then I am letting "man" usurp the place of the Holy Spirit and God - Heaven Forbid!!! I say "Hallelujah" for ebooks and kindles and having access to incredible writing material that may have never seen the light of day otherwise. And to coin a 60's phrase - "Write ON"!! Write on Ladies of the Lord! - Write on Champions of Christ! - Write on Scribes of Scripture! WRITE ON!!! And as readers may we do our part to encourage them in prayer, in purchasing power, and in posting our affirmation for them on-line (amazon, barnes & noble & other sites) - - - stepping off soapbox now - - whew! I've got to switch to decaf! LOL

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    1. Thanks Pam for your eloquent rant. I loved every minute of it. Don't bother with decaf, the caffeinated you is doing just fine!

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  5. Oh - and one more thing - (taking another swig of coffee) - I bought and read Charity's Cross - - and it was GREAT!!!!

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  6. It is absolutely crazy as to what gets published out there and what publishers will let by them. But then again I think it just must not be my kind of book. BUT, every person needs something different right? As for me, the more I have become a reviewer to these Christian fiction books and fabulous authors I have found, the more deeper I have gotten into my Christian life. It's amazing what I am being convicted of and what comes back to me in a certain situation. I love it that you write what you want, MaryLu, it is your books that dig deep and bring things to light I need to hear and see. Keep doing it and I pray God continues to bless you!!

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    1. Absolutely love this, MaryLu. You described so well the hearts of multitudes of authors. Bless you!

      Cheryl

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  8. Yes, yes, yes!! I am so happy to have read your post tonight (catching up on all the missed posts from this excellent blog). I am just about ready to self publish through Amazon (have to edit a few more chapters). Thank you! You and all the other Christian authors inspire me!

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