Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is Traditional Publishing Dead?

I got into a lively debate not too long ago at my author's association meeting. The lady I was speaking with was an older, more experienced author than me, (and someone whom I also like and respect.) That said, she is old-school, meaning is into traditional publishing only, and she has no use for the indie publishers or self-publishing.

I'm all for traditional publishing, and while I don't think it's completely dead, I think the days when traditional publishers held a monopoly are long behind us. Thank goodness.

Most of us write books because we want them to be read. I can't speak for other authors, but I've reached the age and stage in life where I just don't have the patience to play the games that traditional publishers, and agents, wish to play. I don't have the  patience for agents who express an interest, ask for a manuscript, and then are never seen or heard from again. I don't have the patience for publishers who may say they like my story, but they'd rather see this than that, and would I do a major rewrite? Then, assuming I do the rewrite they wanted, and they finally accept me, I don't have the patience to wait another three years before I see my work in print.

I know I am not alone. A few years ago I got curious and took my own author's survey, where I discovered that most of the authors I know think like I do. They're also tired of all the games that traditional publishers  and agents play, and they're tired of all the rejection letters, so they are opting to either self-publish, or go to an indie, or subsidy publisher. Having to pay someone to publish their book is a fair trade for having their books published, in a timely manner, and in return, they get to retain their rights in the process. And by the way, I took this survey before the e-book revolution. That too is going to be a game changer.

There are good and bad indie subsidy publishers out there, so if you elect to go this route I would highly recommend talking to other authors and find out which ones are good to work with and which ones to avoid. And if you decide to opt for a traditional publisher that's fine.  Just remember, you do have other options.

My thought for the day.


Friday, June 10, 2011

When to Use a Pen Name

Another question I'm sometimes asked is whether or not I write under my real name, or a pen name.  I actually write under both.

There are many reasons why some authors have chosen to write under pen names.  These authors would include:

  • Those who wish to keep their privacy.
  • Those who write controversial or sensitive subject matter, such as erotica.
  • Those who, by coincidence, happen to have a name that is the same name as another author.
  • Those who have names that are confusing, hard to pronounce, or have an unusual spelling.
  • Those who write in more than one genre, and wish to build a separate brand for each.

The latter two were applicable to me.

When I wrote my very first book, Anna's Kitchen, I naively thought at the time that Gayle Martin, my legal name, was perhaps too common, so I decided to include my maiden name, Homes, to make it unique.  However, before I was married to Mr. Martin, I spent my life with both a first and last name with unusual spellings.  Gayle Homes.  People were always getting  my name wrong, thinking I was, "Gail Holmes," and no, it didn't exactly do wonders for my self-esteem, but I digress.  Once Anna's Kitchen was published, however, I soon realized that the troubles of the past were coming back to haunt me.  The name, "Gayle Homes," with or without the name, "Martin," simply left too big of a margin for error for a keyword search, and had I not picked up the name, "Martin," along my life's journey, I would have had to start using a pen name from the get-go. That said, we learn from our mistakes, so when I published Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the first book in my Luke and Jenny series, I dropped the name, "Homes," since I wasn't using it anymore anyway, and just published it under the name, "Gayle Martin."  It worked, and I've been successfully building my brand as a children's book author ever since.  Then came the next problem.

As much as I love my Luke and Jenny books, I been wanting to write more adult material for sometime now, and to branch out into the romance genre.  This means that while I'm not writing erotica, readers in this genre do expect some steamy, if not somewhat graphic, love scenes. This would present a real problem if, by chance, a youngster, or a parent, who was a Luke and Jenny fan, came along and bought my latest book, thinking it too was written for younger readers.  So I decided to create a pen name, Marina Martindale, which is simply a play on my middle name and my last name, and I'll have to create a whole new brand.  It's fun, yet challenging at the same time, since "Marina" cannot ride on the coattails of Luke and Jenny.  Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.

Ultimately, it's up to each author to decide whether or not to write under a pen name, and if you should opt to do so, I highly recommend coming up with one that's easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and memorable.

My tip for the day.


or is it

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