It's really cool to know other writers. It's really, really cool to know writers who are good enough friends for me to visit, or invite to stay at my home. This month, I did both!
Pee and Tip!
(Two things that happen after too much Viking's Blöd.)
At the beginning of April, I visited Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences), friends I made through podcasting. In addition to being successful podiobook authors (indeed, Tee helped create podiobooks.com and had one of the first podiobooks out there), they then published with a small press (Dragonmoon Press), and are now traditionally published by an imprint of the Big Five.
They have the agent, the book deals, the awards. And they still have a foot in the DIY camp.
On their podcast, The Shared Desk, they talk about writing, their projects, and general tomfoolery, and they run short stories written by fellow authors they've invited to share in their traditionally-published story-world on their Tales from the Archives podcast. Think of it as a "Tales from Mos Eisley Cantina" for their own series.
It was really cool to stay with them and get a glimpse into the lifestyle of not one, but two career writers, and also be around for their new book's Facebook launch party.
Annual Harris/Hilton (Roach Toaster Tour - 2014)
After coming home from Tee and Pip's, I had a couple days to catch up on writing and...er...clean the house before my friend Abigail Hilton (The Prophet of Panamindorah; The Guild of the Cowry Catchers) arrived for our annual retreat. Last year, I visited her in Florida, which was fantastic. This year, she came to visit me! (Listen on the right.)
Abbie and I also met through the podcasting community. Like Pip and Tee, she has a few podiobooks out, the second set of which is a five book full cast labor of love that aired its final episode while she was here! Guild of the Cowry Catchers was actually how I found out (and became a fan of) Abbie.
Funny thing is, Abbie started out trying to traditionally publish Cowry Catchers, but never really found a home for it. I guess when you write 250,000 word novels about anthropomorphised gay pirate animals fighting oppressive dragon priestesses, it's a little hard for publishers to figure out where to shelve you (I am oversimplifying the story, obviously, for the sake of the lulz, but you can get the first book on the right for FREE).
So Abbie self-published her work as a full-cast podiobook and, like, actually paid people. As a traveling nurse anaesthetist, she also had the means to commission beautiful illustrations for her books.
She showed me her excel spreadsheet and explained how she keeps track of her expenses and gains (which was all very businessy and intimidating-looking because, as we see from my blogging schedule, I am not consistent).
What was evident, however, is that between Cowry Catchers and her other self-published works, she's making enough per month to perk up my ears. Of course, with the amount of money she's thrown at the books' illustrations (which even she says are probably unnecessary), she's just starting to break even on the Cowry Catchers books.
Still, after self-publishing, Abbie doesn't seem likely to look back at traditional publishing, and she was actually one of the folks responsible for my decision to self publish my novella EXORCISING AARON NGUYEN.
Ultimately, my goal is different from Abbie's--she is happier having a job that can support her, and writing during her breaks between work. She likes the stability of that, and never intends to make writing her primary paycheck-bringer.
I, on the other hand, want to be able to support myself (at least mostly) on my writing, which is getting harder and harder for strictly-traditionally published authors to do.
Learning from Both Camps
Tee and Pip entered the business a couple of years ago and have been building their audiences through both traditional and independent venues for more than five years. Hard times or good, they are examples of the kind of author I want to be--capable of both being traditionally published and still having fingers in the DIY scene, splitting their time between writing and having a blast as a family.
I'm entering the publishing game in the middle of a shifting of rules, and what hanging out with them taught me is that I still believe in traditional publishing and want that to be my primary form of publication.
What hanging out with (the far more organized and practical INTJ) Abbie taught me is that I need not only look at self publishing as a plan B, but do that while putting a time limit on my submission of novel-length work to agents and editors. That way, I won't be letting work I'm proud of founder if the traditional folks don't think it's right for the market.
A few times, Abbie told me, "If you keep knocking on [the publishing house's] door, they will eventually let you in." Which is what I'd like to believe as well. All the same, she's convinced me to start building a summer home in indie publishing.