16 January 2012

From the Outside In

Greetings, Kittens!

My fifth release comes out next Friday, ITS SWEETEST FORM, and at least two others will see the light of day this year. That’s seven published works and yet, I can’t tell you a thing about publishing from the inside. Why? Because I’m on the outside of it. And that’s okay.

What puts me on the outside? Well, I don’t have an agent, I haven’t won any contest, I don’t belong to any chapters of anything, and I refuse to stick to a single genre, or to conform to the strictures of the genres I cross into. I write multicultural casts, but I don’t write Ethnic fiction. I write bisexual and sexually fluid characters, but I don’t write LGBTQ fiction. I write polyamory almost exclusively, but I don’t write erotica per se. I write paranormal elements in everything, but the focus is the human story of the non-human characters.

None of this in intentional. Not a single thing. I write the stories I want to read and the stories that I think need to be told. I write them the way I see the world and I don’t know another way to do it. To be honest, I don’t know that I’d want to learn another way if I could. So where does that leave me?

Well, people who love me and get me, REALLY love and get me. People who like me, really like me and seek me out. But people who don’t get me, put up signs and tweak their submission guidelines to keep me and my ilk away. You think I’m kidding...

Publishing is like any other business, they have a product and they have to sell it. The publishers are in competition with each other, so inventive and unique is a bonus. But it’s a very small trip from inventive and unique, to strange and indefinable. A publisher won’t contract what it thinks it can’t market, and therefore sell. For those of us on the outside, that means starting small and building up with proof of sales, or going indie and proving ourselves there.

I’m not the indie type. I appreciate the path and I’m sure there’s an indie release in my future, but I’m not an indie author. I currently lack the editorial skills, or the money to hire those with editorial skills, to turn out a product that does me proud. That means staying in this publishing game of horse shoes and waiting to get close.

So far, I don’t mind the ride. I’m learning every step of the way. I know the when to take criticism that will benefit a story, and when to ignore something that would fundamentally change a manuscript and my voice for the worse. I know the different between someone trying to elevate my work and someone trying to make me a clone of something easier to market. And that’s valuable, all of it. The process, even at it’s most subjective, adds something to the author every time, be it strength, patience, perseverance or plot ideas. Taken in the right stride, even with rejection, you walk away with more than you had before you began. And write to get better, right?

Seeya on the inside, Kittens!

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