Schizophrenic, that’s what.
I find these two extremes of the publishing process warring within me. I have a wild indie spirit and I LOVE the challenges that indie publishing brings. I love designing my own covers, finding new marketing outlets, running new campaigns. I actually love wrestling with the pros and cons of KDP Select vs diversification with Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. I take inordinate glee in finding and confirming a pricing ‘sweet spot’ that results in improved sales and seeing the positive reviews mount as readers are drawn into the fantastical world of the Upper Kingdom. And you know what? I long to do the same with COLD STONE & IVY, the series that is currently out on submission with the Big 5.
Deep down, I really want to take the reins back on this baby. I long to release the tag line and the amazing cover and watch it race up the Amazon charts. I long to wait a strategic 6 months before releasing Book 2 and then wrestle with my time as to writing Book 3 or Upper Kingdom Book 4. I have to admit, I love that crazy, messy, uncharted Indie book world and want to take a deep breath and dive in with both feet.
And then, I find myself googling publishers.
Publishers for the Upper Kingdom series, publishers that accept previously self-published novels, publishers that are currently seeking new and innovative works and I wonder at my behavior. Just a few months back, my agent and I were in negotiations with a small but growing press who had made me an offer. At first I was deliriously happy – finally! Publication! But quickly, the glow faded when I realized that they’d likely change my covers, run their own promotions, do their own editing, etc, etc, etc. I realized also that I would no longer be charting my own course but would be subject to the conditions and clauses that I had agreed to. So, Jen and I decided to keep the Upper Kingdom separate for now, keep it mine until the day when a really sweet offer comes along. I was good with that. I was fine. I was relieved.
And tonight, I found myself googling publishers again.
Is it the validation I’m seeking? I only have to read a review for that. Is it the stamp of professionalism I lack? The ages-old tradition of Brick and Mortar stores, of Bestseller lists and author signings and the like? Is it the relationship between an author and a really keen editor (which is so gratifying), or the notion of a team of people who are behind me and my book, wanting to see it do well and taking it to places I can never take it on my own? Is it the possibilities of foreign rights, and movie rights and audio rights and marketing? Is it the idea of sitting down with a senior editor and putting pen to contract and shaking a hand the way it has been done for over a hundred years? Is it the simple love of a bookshop stocking my book - something that is, for the most part, denied to the world of Indie publishing? What is that deep, visceral need that keeps drawing me back to the halls of traditional publishing?
As I said, I am an Indie in my heart, but I wonder if it isn’t my head that’s traditional? I wonder if there isn’t that constant life battle between those two facets of my personality that will always be at war with each other? The heart vs the mind is an ages-old conflict, and probably one of the richest in both a literal and literary sense. Can they co-exist without destruction? Can I wear two hats - a Bohemian beret one day, then a Wall Street fedora the next? How about a Steampunk bowler? After all, I am writing two distinct series. Maybe they are meant to be published differently so maybe I am doing the right thing, walking two very different roads, wearing very different hats for both. No wonder Alice’s Hatter was Mad…
So, living as a schizophrenic, conflicted writer. Does seem rather true to type. Ezra Pound, Sylvia Plath, Zelda Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, even dear Philip K. Dick, not to mention Tolstoy – just a few authors who have struggled with legitimate mental issues. Makes mine seem small and rather petty, but still. They are mine.
And I really shouldn’t complain. After all, I do have some really cool hats now.