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Saturday, 7 January 2012

From agents offering editing services to Amazon Jimmy Gordon offers his entertaining view of the publishing world.


I must say I have been completely lost as far as topic for today’s post goes. But, since this seems to be more of a site for writers than readers I thought we might discuss just where we are going, where our lives in literature are concerned.



GUEST POST BY JIMMY GORDON

author of Dartboard



I often read that changes in the field of literature move along at a pretty slow pace. However, I can’t agree with that I have witnessed the dynamic of this business change, well, dynamically! Once I had blundered through that first book, upon the strike of the very last key, I really had no idea where to move from there. How does one get a book published? I turned to the internet and typed in a simple search: ‘how does one publish their first book’? Naturally, one of the vanity presses popped up, and not knowing any better, I jumped on board without any idea that an author taking that road for publishing would be scorned, dragged out into the streets, their books burned, and their backs lashed out in the courtyard just for having the nerve to ask a bookseller to sell their self-published stuff, even on consignment!

That was just ten years ago, and look what’s happening now: there are folks like J. A. Konrath setting the traditional form of publishing aside to self-publish on their own. And other big name stars seem to be following his lead. But how does that help the small fry? I’ve read Joe’s blog, and don’t get me wrong, I love the guy. In fact, his name and words are on the cover of my current book in the form of a blurb. In his blog he talks about the sales he’s making without the need to cut an agent or a publisher in on his booty. I imagine for many of us, all of us who have insulated our homes with rejection letters from publishers and agents, it offers a little bit of hope that we can make it big. But should it? After all, yes, these folks are self-publishing, but they’ve had the benefit of publishing with a large publishing house. They didn’t enter the self-publishing arena as a complete no-name starting from scratch. Their audiences had already been built. So I ask, is this new trend one to be embraced? Or should we stiffen up our backsides and keep sending out those emails and letters to publishers and agents?

Let’s talk about those agents. I already mentioned the rejection letters. How often has any writer found themselves staring at their inbox, seeing that one agent’s email address, the one that seemed interested, and not wanting to open it because you just know you’ll get the “I’m sorry, it’s not you, it’s me” routine?. I’ve been there.

Another tough spot is one that hit me twice. You think you land an agent, you even work through some edits, but eventually, “Well, Jim, there have been some big changes in the industry. If this was two years ago, I’d take you on. I just didn’t see this coming.” That sucked.Those rejects finally prompted me to take a look at the hundreds of small, independent publishers out there. In my opinion, I think this road is a mighty fine road to travel. There are so many of these small presses and each one seems to know their niche in the market. I had so many stories from my big press friends... after their book was published; they had a quick meeting with a PR person, and were patted on their behinds, and told to go sell their book. Only the bestsellers get the full boat PR treatment, does that make any sense whatsoever?

The big guys are already big, folks will buy their stuff regardless, no? Isn’t a publisher dooming their investment by sending a first timer out in the cold with nothing but a match and sheet of one-ply toilet paper to keep them warm? I’ve found it might be just as tough to land a quality small press as is it to land that agent, but there seems to be hundreds to choose from, they all seem to fill a niche or two, they know their market. I must say, I’m happy to have found a home in the small press world. I often wonder if others feel the same.

A little irony where agents are concerned: has anyone noticed, in the hard times for the book biz, that many agents have turned to offering editing, or book doctor services on the side? Andy, if you’re reading this, I’m talking about others, not you, you’re top notch! Anyhow, I think I’ve now opened my inbox three or four times now and found an agent spamming me, saying they now offer editorial services to non-clients at stellar rates; that stellar rate being something like $200.00 an hour. I’ll tell you this, it felt mighty fine to click reply and tell these folks that they are just not the right fit for me at this point in time. Has anyone else come across this?

Finally, I think my word count is running short here, so let’s talk about those brick and mortar stores and their e cousins like Amazon. The ones that sell actual printed books compared with the Kindle-type of books. Again, let’s go back ten years to when I just stepped into literature. The ebook was still considered trash. A comment like “Hey, I got an offer for a publishing contract. Yeah, it’s for an ebook.” Well, I think we all know what the reaction would look like—a kind nod and a sniff of rotten eggs.

I’m not sure that will be the case anymore. I really think e publishers/Kindle/Nook type of publishers will be a totally respected form of publishing, if it isn’t already. Of course, I’m not sure e-publishing can really be considered cheap or inexpensive publishing, the books will still need dynamite cover art and primo editing, and that’s pretty big money stuff where publishers are concerned. So there is no printing cost. Perhaps that money can be used for marketing. One of my books, Kritterkreep,  is offered in ebook through Kindle and the Nook. My next kids’ book, Field of Screams, will be along shortly. There’s seems to be a new trend in marketing authors who have more than one book to peddle, giving the Kindle edition away for free a month or two prior to the release of the next book. I had several conversations with other writers about this tactic and I’ve heard nothing but good things. Has anyone out there had a similar experience to share? I am totally excited to see how it goes. I’m hoping the folks who publish my adult stuff will follow suit and offer the same.

As far as paper books go, and the brick and mortar stores, I’m thinking the book to the Nook will be like the horse to the auto. As soon as those gas-driven machines hit those old dirt roads, the horse was kicked off the path as the primary form of transportation. While I may use the hell out of my car, every now and then, from time to time, it’s a blast to jump into the saddle and hit the dusty trail. We’ve seen the death of Borders, a huge blow to the marketability of print books; think of how much shelf space was lost practically overnight. Will Barnes and Noble and other nationwide chains survive, or will we be a Kindle world with the occasional paper book read for kicks, picked up from a dusty shelf in a small downtown’s independent bookstore?

I think humans, in general, are resistant to change, but I must say, I’m looking forward to the future of this industry. I can’t wait to see where things land. Anyone else feel the same?

Genre Adult/Adventure

1776: An English payroll ship loses sight of its convoy and wrecks on the shoals of a small, remote Caribbean island during a terrible storm, marooning its crew and a small group of soldiers. After rescuing the gold and burying it on the island, they are overrun by a tribe of cannibals, leaving the treasure hidden... Today: Jimmy Quigley, a small town cop, inherits a boat and a treasure map from his Uncle Jackson, a renowned world explorer. He hooks up with Evelyn Quinn, who also received a small inheritance from his uncle. He heads to the Caribbean with Evelyn and her friend, Kristin, and his friend, Rick, for some fun in the sun and a possible treasure hunt. When the boat is ransacked by thieves not once, but twice, Jimmy wonders if his uncle's warning to watch his back has more to it than he first thought. With his friends' safety and the fate of the Lorraine gold in mind, Jimmy heads off into the biggest adventure of his life...




New to blogging is firefighter and paramedic-turned-author Jimmy (J.D.) Gordon. He was born and raised in Chicago  and lives with his wife and children in Glen Ellyn IL, a suburb of Chicago. He writes in two different genres: adventure for adults and paranormal spooky stuff for middle school children from age nine until, and above, twelve years. 


Unlike many writers (most seem to catch the writing bug early in life) Jimmy only began writing as a hobby ten years ago. But skip back twenty or thirty years and you’d find someone who thought they’d never write a book! Jimmy was the lousy student in the back of class, avoiding the teacher’s gaze! 

Jimmy Gordon dropped into the world of literature quite literally. After falling off a train and breaking his knee Jimmy had to spend time recuperating, and his peers asked what he planned to with  his new-found free time. And Jimmy said the words that he now claims to have changed his life: "I should write a book."

Despite some skepticism ("You don't even use punctuation on your run reports!"), he completed a novel, Island Bound, and made it a point to use punctuation throughout - good idea!

But then he had another accident, sustained on the job, which ended his career in the fire service and the rest, as they say, is history.

Aside from writing Gordon spends his spring and summer as an umpire for high school and youth baseball. He now lives with his wife and children in Glen Ellyn IL, a suburb of Chicago. 



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