Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My "Genreless" Style

One of my goals as an author is to not to always write the same kind of novel. I don't want to be stuck in one particular genre. Sure, I will probably have some recurring themes, but one story may be speculative while another may be a western, and the next a mystery thriller.

My first rule of writing is to create something that I would want to read; I write for myself, in other words. With that, I've enjoyed reading a variety of genres - science fiction (Asimov, Clarke); mystery (John Straley); action-adventure (Clancy), and literary (John Irving, Umberto Eco) to name a few.

Also, I don't want my work to be predictable. One of my favorite authors is Iain Banks because when I crack open one of his books I've no idea what I'm getting myself into. All too often I've enjoyed a particular writer (or filmmaker, or band) only to not want to read them ever again because they simply become a predictable derivative of themselves.

When it came to market my book, I had to put it into some kind of category, wherein I discovered the wonderfully ambiguous and interchangeable labels of literary, mainstream, and contemporary - the perfect homes for writing that doesn't adhere to strict guidelines of any one genre.

The irony here being, of course, that literary, mainstream, and contemporary are considered specific genres.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Why Publish Independently?

After completing my book, I took the traditional path in pursuit of publication. First, I submitted query letters to a number of agents, and received a number of polite, respectful rejections. (Unlike the rude rejection I got for my short story mentioned in a previous posting.) One agent even expressed enough interest to want to read the first three chapters, but found it wasn't a novel she would normally represent.

Then I went to submitting to publishers directly. Again, a slew of polite rejections. While not interested in "Gospel...", one publisher did invite me to send in any future manuscripts, as they did like my writing in general. (So, I've got that going for me.)

Two years later, I was left with a lesson learned: The best way to get published is to have first been published. A classic Catch-22. It was about that time that my wife suggested I self-publish through Amazon. Their CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform was exactly what I needed, comprehensive yet inexpensive. I chose the mostly DIY approach. I laid out and designed the book's interior, and through a vague description of what I envisioned, my wife created a great cover. (Of course, she thinks it could be better, so don't be surprised if you see a new design in the near future.) 

I chose to make my novel available only online so that I could keep the cover price down. Who wants to spend fifteen-plus dollars on an author they've never heard of? That's what I would've had to charge to sell in bookstores - the extra dollars simply going to cover costs of distribution. I don't need middlemen; I need to entice readers to take a chance on a new writer.

Whether this publication garners the attention of any publishers and/or agents is yet to be seen. But with the creative freedom and higher royalties that using CreateSpace allows, I wonder now if I will ever go with traditional publishing. (We'll see if I can be bought with a substantial enough contract offer and advance.)