Hybrid author: Something old, something new

A printing press in 1568.

A printing press in 1568.

Gutenberg’s press upheaved the business of books, ushering in a new golden age. The shift from rare and expensive knowledge to affordable and commonplace began.

Eventually, publishing houses became gatekeepers, deciding which authors were worthy of ink. The author became a unique and wonderful creature, living on rarefied air and (usually) something addictive.

But change is in the air again. Book stores are closing. Libraries are re-configuring themselves into internet cafes. Authors are having a harder time than ever placing their books with traditional publishing houses. The most powerful of publishing houses, formerly known as “the seven sisters” are now down to three – maybe four – and are constantly merging, shifting and downsizing. (Merrie Destefano, a traditionally published author, writes about how the slow motion crash of Barnes and Nobles affected her, just weeks after the release of her second novel, Feast, from HarperVoyager.)

The catalyst of this change? The e-reader revolution. Digital killed the paperback star.

No one honestly believes the printed book will ever go away. After all, the paperless office was supposed to happen 20-some years ago. But the remaining publishing houses have tightened their belts. Fewer new authors are getting signed, even established authors are getting smaller advances and are being offered less lucrative returns.

On the other hand, with change comes opportunity, for those brave enough to take it.

Those creatures are often called “hybrid authors”.

There are two paths to hybrid authorship. Start by publishing your own book. Maybe you begin with some fanfiction on a website, and you gain a following. You decide to publish your collection in an e-book, which sells well enough to get the attention of a traditional agent or publisher and – suddenly like magic – you are a traditionally published author also.

Or, maybe like my friend Merrie, you’ve gone the traditional route and have had some success. But the outlets have dried  up. The publishing houses aren’t buying your style of story anymore, even though your fans are begging you for more. So, you take matters into your own hands and issue your books yourself.

New, small,  nimble publishing houses are popping up all the time now. The ones that survive have a finger on the pulse of the digital revolution, such as Read The Spirit, the host of this blog and the publisher of my previous two books.

626px-Red_shoes

“There’s no place like publication. There’s no place like publication.”

Another model is the author co-op publishing house such as the newly launched Ruby Slippers Media.

I’m really excited to be a part of Ruby Slippers Media as we launch a co-operative service among authors pooling art, editing and marketing resources to create an economical way to get our books to our audiences.

I can’t wait to share with you how it all pans out!

A Poem and A Picture: Food for thought on Detroit

I like to read poems to my boys as a part of their bedtime routine. Right now we’re working through Shel Silverstein’s classic Where The Sidewalk Ends. This poem, Enter This Deserted House, seemed to speak to the lack of respect shown to Detroit from all quarters – including, in many cases, from within.

It didn’t take much effort to find an appropriate “ruin porn” photo to go with it.

Silverstein and Detroit

 

What do you think?

Working with the YMCA to fight local hunger and homelessness

I'd love to see you there!

I’d love to see you there!

Yay!

Look what was delivered to my doorstep today!

Of course, this means now the hard work begins…

box of bird on fire

Small beginnings

I submitted the final draft of the manuscript of Bird on Fire to the publishing house today. Now it goes to the copy editor for a final comb through, then to the publisher for styling and other lovely appearance things, and then to print!

So, of course I called my mom to tell her the news. As we talked she asked about sales of my first book, Glitter in the Sun. I said, meh… once in a while a new sale will show up…

But then she remembered and reminded me of this verse -

small beginnings

 

Every great thing, every great movement, every great artist started somewhere.

While I don’t know if I will ever be considered “great”, it is nice to be reminded that a small start is worth rejoicing in.

Bird on Fire revealed

Designed by the talented Rick Nease, the cover art for my upcoming book Bird On Fire.

Designed by the talented Rick Nease, the cover art for my upcoming book Bird On Fire.

A (job) change could do you good

Remember way back, a year an a half ago, when I proudly announced I had a Real Job?

Yeah?

Well, change happens. Again. And for very good reason.

business-card-return to senderFor the past year and a half I have crammed my head full of marketing wisdom. I have read books and blogs, attended conferences, and watched more webinars than I care to count. I have been told to do X, Y and Z. I have been told X, Y and Z is exactly what not to do. And I have found that if I wait long enough that first advice might come around again. But, above all, I have learned that no one cares about a book and its success as much as the author does.

This was a demoralizing realization for two reasons. 1) I would not ever be able to do enough in the limited time allotted in my week to promote all the Read the Spirit authors to the degree they expected and deserved. And, 2) If I’m spending all my available time marketing other people’s books, who is going to care enough to market the book I just finished writing?

Apparently I was not alone in this epiphany. My bosses decided the best thing for both for Read The Spirit and for me was to release me from the marketing department so I can focus on caring about marketing my own book and writing more new stuff. It also means they will be able to promote me as a speaker and guest writer for other organizations and congregations.

I can’t decide if I’ve been fired in such a way that it feels like a promotion, or been promoted by being removed from a job… Either way it is some of the best news I’ve been given in a while. Truly, tears of joy welled up in my eyes!

New author photos were taken last week by the amazingly talented Jaclyn Michele.

New author photos were taken last week by the amazingly talented Jaclyn Michele.

So. Changes are happening.

My upcoming book, tentatively title Bird on Fire, is a Biblical look at The Hunger Games.

Changes will be happening here, also. Glitter in the Sun, the website, may eventually be absorbed into a new blog to be called Faith Goes Pop. Faith Goes Pop will address faith and popular culture as a whole – broader than the Glitter in the Sun focus on YA lit and my daily life. We’ve got some really fun features planned for Faith Goes Pop and a great chance for you to get involved.

I’m truly excited for the changes and hope you come along for the ride!