A Novel’s Journey

This weekend (today through Sunday), I’m hosting the weekly Circlet Press Author Chat on LiveJournal (and sponsoring a poetry contest). I’ll share some thoughts about changes in the publishing industry, rights issues, platform, author compensation, etc.

Below is a copy of my first (of three) posts. If you’d like to comment, please join the conversation there.

The business of delivering words and ideas to readers is in upheaval. Newspapers are dying. Book sales are down. Right now I can probably find a few dozen news articles and blogs lamenting all the things bad/wrong/problematic about this.

But, change doesn’t always equal bad, wrong, or problematic. Thousands of small presses publish the work of authors who could never get into print with a New York house. Buying a book no longer requires acquiring an ink on paper volume — you can download an e-book into your PDA to read on the subway, acquire an audio book to play on your iPod, etc.

The journey of Dommemoir , my third published novel, into the readers’ hands stands out as unique in the current traditional publishing world. But it’s a story that probably will become more common as that world adjusts to new paradigms.

First, Dommemoir was written before my novels Broken and Shattered which were released last year by a small press. They did not exactly get into print via traditional channels, either. A conversation that started with greetings from a friend to a new acquaintance ended with “my publisher is looking for exactly the type of books you’re writing.”

Networking has always influenced which books get into print. Numerous authors have signed publishing contracts because they had some connection to an agent, editor, publisher via friends, relatives, or acquaintances.

Dommemoir’s story has a few more degrees of separation. It started a few years ago when Cecilia Tan of Circlet Press invited me to join her professional network on LinkedIn. We’ve all gotten invitations from various folks we know to join numerous social networking sites. But, Cecilia is an editor who has purchased my work in the past. I joined. I put up a profile. I spent almost no time on the site.

A few months ago I received an e-mail from Paul Beidler. He had seen my profile on LinkedIn and followed the link to my website. He liked my work, was starting a new imprint (Fanny Press), and was actively seeking to publish the type of fiction I write.

He asked me if I had any projects for which I was seeking a publisher. I mentioned a novel I had written several years ago which I found hard to market because of its unique structure. He asked to see it, loved it, and decided to launch his new venture as a publisher of cutting-edge erotic fiction and nonfiction with it.

Yes, that’s correct. I did not submit the book to dozens of agents and publishers. (Okay, I did send it to one or two publishers when I finished it several years ago, but it sat in the virtual drawer since while I wrote and promoted other novels).

I’m excited about being part of a new venture and thrilled to have a publisher who loves my book, wants to help make it successful, and will offer it both in paper and electronically. Since the books I write are, for the most part, outside what mainstream publishers and readers will accept, I’m also delighted to participate in a less-than-traditional method to deliver my novels to those who will appreciate them.

At the end of the day, it won’t matter who the players are in the publishing industry. No matter what format they’re ultimately delivered in, good stories will always find a home with those who want to enjoy them.

What do you think? Do you prefer reading books on paper or electronically? Do you prefer to listen to your stories?

If you’d like to comment, please join the conversation at Circlet Press.

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