Sunday, January 29, 2012

Trying to Do Your Best for Readers

A number of years ago, I attended an interesting workshop given by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and her husband, Dean Wesley Smith, about the publishing biz, and things that aspiring writers should ponder. It was an interesting discussion. One of their comments was that every writer needs to make a decision about whether to commit to writing as a career, which means living with no regular paycheck, or taking the risk of writing fulltime. Kristine and Dean chose the latter at a fairly young age and succeeded. In fact, in her Jan. 25th blog, Kristine says she considers a professional writer as someone who makes between $50,000 and $100,000 a year. I don’t agree. I also remember her saying that she wrote 25 new pages of work everyday in the morning, and spent the rest of the day editing, which she doesn’t consider writing. Again, I disagree. She also estimated that she put in, at that time, roughly 90 hours a week on her career. After that discussion, I made a conscious choice to put my children first and keep the day job, as we needed the money, and I knew it wasn’t going to come quickly by choosing fulltime writing.

Recently, I found Kathryn’s blog, and noticed a distinct change in her approach to self-publishing. I was self-publishing in print form when I attended her panel a decade ago, and at that time, she was pretty clear that self-publishing was a horrible career move. Not anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I do agree with a lot of what she says. Rusch is one of the few authors who not only writes prolifically, but understands the business side. However, I find myself once again disagreeing with a point she made in her Jan. 25th blog. It’s about indie authors ignoring readers, just as the big publishers have been doing. Rusch explains that the traditional publishers have an annoying habit of making the first book in a series out of print before the next installment hits the shelves. She maintains that indie writers are committing the similar sin of ignoring readers. Rusch is furious (her word) that indie authors are promoting the heck out of their first books and offering no follow up. Well, wait a sec. Kindleboards is crowded with authors who are serving up sequel after sequel in their series. She also says that if indie authors don’t produce new books before one or two years they’re insulting their readers. Again, I disagree.

I also know of many indie authors who are writing fast and publishing unpolished books far too quickly. Look, few authors are intentionally ignoring readers. It’s just that most of us don’t have the skill or time to produce quality books quickly due to day jobs, children, health obstacles, and so forth. No doubt, authors will say, well work around it...find a way. Well, we are, trust me. Readers might grow tired of waiting for the next book, but I think many of them are quite willing to wait longer for a quality sequel rather than a job full of typos, grammatical errors, and a weak plot.

Please, let’s not blame writers who are trying hard with whatever time, energy, and skill they have. It’s not about ignoring or disrespecting readers. It’s about struggling to write (and being serious and professional about it) while living with health and/or family challenges that certain six-figure income writers either overcame or never had to deal with in the first place. You can read her entire blog entry here

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, now available for iphones, iPads, and iPodTouch at Also available in paperback at and on Kindle at

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