I thought maybe this year would be different, but it's really not.
And I could whinge about my deadlines and the truly sick amount of work I should be doing right now, but we've all got better things to do with our time. So instead I'm going to share some thoughts about what it's like to be an author in this new horizon where nobody pays me for anything on the front end and there's nobody to hold my hand.
I feel like I should caveat this with I didn't expect any of those things before we got here. I should also caveat it with the fact that a lot of my universe as a writer comes from a company I co-run. We'll talk a little about how that makes things different and how it doesn't here in a minute.
So what do I call an Independent Entity?
It's complicated, right? Because we call people who self publish "Indy" authors, and people who publish with small-press are sometimes "Indy" and sometimes "Non-traditional" authors, and generally speaking people who publish with "real" publishers (I seriously hate that differentiation but that's a barrel of onions for another day) are just considered lucky.
So here's the thing, for my purposes an Independent Entity is any author who's going more than one direction at once. We don't have all our eggs in the same basket. I'll use myself as an example. I currently have three books in print (it'll be five by the end of the year). Several of those books are through a press I co-run, and that's not exactly self-pubbing, but it's close enough if someone else used the label I wouldn't get upset about it. One of them is published through a small press publisher I'd very much like to work with again if I can ever figure out a plot that fits the book that's already on the shelf.
When people have the 'self-pub' debate I generally shut up because I have opinions that are pretty unpopular in all directions and...well...I've got horses all over the place in this game, but I'm not in the place where I feel like I need to proselytize. The most I'll say is just like no two people are the same, no two writers are the same. Everyone should figure out what works for them. And maybe be a little careful about who they listen to while they're working on that.
So what's it like being an Independent Entity?
Right, so you woke up this morning and opened your eyes to find yourself magically standing at the bottom of the rockiest, thorniest, most annoying mountain you've ever seen. This mountain represents the writing work you're supposed to do today. But it's fine, right? There's a path, and you sort of know where you're going. You have a goal--the top of that mountain, and you have the day to get there. It's fine.
Go ahead, start. Right, so you see those angry buzzards circling in the sky? Those are your emails. They aren't all writing related, some of them are other business. Some of them are that volunteer thing you still haven't squiggled out from under. Some of them are family. Your challenge is to figure out how many you can answer without losing your footing.
Oh, and watch out for the weird animal hiding in that bush. It's the Facebook argument you should really be a part of, but you know better. And right after it is the pitfall on the path that'll send you back about half-way. That's the moment you realize you have a plot hole you could drive a spaceship through, at the exact moment your child asks where the pink highlighter is.
Now, add to that the weird crest thingy at the top that's some person who wanted you to do a project with them really not understanding that you actually have other things to do. They're hanging out in your inbox. Oh, and then you have to go check your contracts and see when you were supposed to get paid because nobody remembers that stuff off the top of their heads.
Does that sound like a pleasant day?
Here's the reality. I will, most likely, utterly never actually make minimum wage at this. If I'm really really lucky I'll make a living, but I'll never get paid equal to the amount of work I do. I'll probably never even get close.
I'm still strapping spikes to my shoes tomorrow. Who's with me?
In an unrelated note, until the 27th you can vote for my story here, and come back Friday and we'll talk about something sciency.