Wednesday, January 18, 2017

From the Ashes

Being an author is hard. The publishing industry is tricky to navigate at the best of times, and with the current climate in small publishing, it can feel utterly impossible to succeed.

I check in with my author groups, and another friend has lost their publisher. A small press has closed, and their whole catalogue of books needs new homes. Less than a month ago, an online book distributor closed and offered to settle all their accounts for ten cents on the dollar.

Those heartbreaks and setbacks can seem insurmountable. Great writers pack it in and choose not to publish anymore because they can’t stand the heartache and seemingly futile struggle. And honestly I can’t blame them. One of my books will soon have been through three publishers. Three times I’ve gleefully accepted a contract; three times I’ve had my heart broken. Part of me wishes I had the temperament to be able to quit. But I don’t. I’m too stubborn. So I’ll push forward and find another way to have that series out there and be grateful I have other projects with other publishers available to keep me from feeling like a complete imposter.

The theme on the blog this month is meant to be “new beginnings.” And I am starting right back from the beginning. I’m not trying to be depressing or to discourage anyone from following her dream of publishing, because it’s not depressing. It’s just the reality in which we find ourselves. It’s culling the herd. Those of us who are left—the ones who have fought through publishers closing, missing royalties, and a seemingly impenetrable market—are phoenixes. We rise from the ashes again and again. Fighting for the next contract and even the next sale with everything we have. And when the world caves in and our dreams again crumble to ash, we rebuild, hoping for something bigger, hoping for something more lasting and productive.

I wish I could say that I think the days of authors being shirked of their royalties and of publishers closing with little more than a Facebook post are over. That I won’t find anymore author friends heartbroken over their newly-homeless books, but I doubt that’s true. Give it a month, and someone else will be fighting their way back up from the bottom.  Some will quit, some will press on, starting from the beginning. Rewriting their blurbs and sending them out with nothing more than hope to keep them moving forward.

The new beginning has been forced upon us, but from the ashes we will continue to rise. Chasing a dream we can’t help but to follow.

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