paths to publication

What's Your Publishing Personality?

Last month I attended Left Coast Crime, and I've been thinking more about an interesting discussion that took place during one of the convention panels I was on, Alternative Paths to Publication.

The focus of this panel was the ups and downs of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. The five of us on the panel had each published both ways. Chuck Rosenberg and I started our writing careers self-publishing and moved to traditional publishing contracts, whereas Cindy Sample, Claire Johnson, and Barbara Hodges are currently self-publishing after previously having publishers. (If you're reading this blog, I'm guessing you already know my story and how it evolved -- if not, you can click those links.)

Left Coast Crime Alternative Paths to Publication panel:
Gigi Pandian, Cindy Sample, Claire Johnson,
Barbara M. Hodges, and Chuck Rosenberg. 
An interesting theme emerged in our panel discussion: much more than our situations, it was our personalities shaped how we felt about being involved in different aspects of publishing.

It wasn't simply a matter of each of us assessing our goals to decide what type of publishing was best for us (though goals are still  important). Instead, regardless of what we each wanted to get out of publishing, it was the way in which we approached tasks that mattered most.

Cindy and I were the starkest examples. Where she absolutely loves being responsible for every last aspect of producing her books, I hated that part of publishing when I was doing it.

Now that much of the stigma of self-publishing is gone, what remains is authors making the right choice for their own circumstances--but a lot of that "right choice" has to do with what a person enjoys doing on a daily basis.

I could never be as successful as Cindy at self-publishing for a gazillion little reasons, all of which have to do with control and responsibility ("control" being the positive spin on "you're-responsible-for-every-single-thing"). Cindy is currently responsible for every aspect of producing her books, just like I was when I formed Gargoyle Girl Productions to publish Artifact in 2012. I learned so much about publishing by being my own publisher, and for that I'm thankful. But I learned even more about myself. Sure, it can be great to have control over exactly what your cover looks like; but it also means you're responsible for making that vision happen, including all the little details you never imagined were part of producing a cover. I learned that I'm not someone who enjoys being in control of the never-ending list of tasks associated with producing a book--I want to focus on writing the next one!

Artifact's book covers:
Gargoyle Girl Productions (left),
Henery Press (right).
I'm an incredibly organized person, but that wasn't enough. A comprehensive list with due dates is no good if you procrastinate on the tasks you don't want to do--and procrastinating was what I did with 90% of the things that had to be done. It didn't matter that I had the skills to pull of being my own publisher. What mattered was that because I didn't enjoy the non-creative side of the writing business, the mental drain was hurting my writing. You bet I jumped at the chance to work with Henery Press and Midnight Ink.

I should note that it's true authors often bemoan the fact that they need to publicize their books in addition to writing them, but the promotion you do as an author with a publisher backing you is nowhere near the amount you need to do without a publisher behind you.

There are many resources for writers considering what type of publishing is best for them, and the times are changing quickly, so I'm not going to go over nuts and bolts of either type of publishing in this post. Instead, I'll leave you with the best advice I gave give you: be true to yourself, and the right answer will emerge.

I'm getting ready for Malice Domestic, where I'm looking forward to many fascinating conversations with readers and writers over the long weekend. If you'll be there, be sure to say hello!


My Evolving Path to Publication from 2012 - 2014

Next week, I'm attending Left Coast Crime, the west coast's big mystery convention. One of the panels I'm on is "Leap of Faith: Writers Who Took Alternative Paths to Publication." I love this topic, because the more I talk with other authors, the more I'm convinced that nobody's path to publication is the same. It's a road of unexpected twists and turns, and if you don't speed too quickly and rush the process, it can lead somewhere great.

In 2012 I self-published my first mystery novel (details here). It was the right decision for me at the time, and it's what ended up kick-starting my writing career more than I anticipated. But at the same time, acting as my own publisher pulled me in more directions than I wanted to deal with.

Some writers find self-publishing empowering and fun; I agree it's empowering, but for me it wasn't so fun. I missed being able to focus my energy on writing. That's why I was thrilled to receive offers from two publishers for three-book deals in 2013.

It's now been exactly one month since my second novel, Pirate Vishnu, was published with Henery Press. I'm now even more certain it was the right decision to sign with Henery Press (for the Jaya Jones treasure hunt mystery series) and Midnight Ink (for the Accidental Alchemist series). I'm gobsmacked--gobsmacked!--by the month I've had. A few highlights made possible my kick-ass publishers:

Hitting the USA Today bestseller list! 
(It was the extended list, but I was next to James Patterson!)

Climbing the Amazon charts.

Receiving these reviews: 

“Pandian’s second series entry sets a playful tone yet provides enough twists to keep mystery buffs engaged, too. The author streamlines an intricate plot….[and] brings a dynamic freshness to her cozy.”
Library Journal

“A delicious tall tale about a treasure map, magicians, musicians, mysterious ancestors, and a few bad men.”
Mystery Scene Magazine

Plus a feature in Mystery Scene.

Getting great feedback on my next book, The Accidental Alchemist, from my editors at Midnight Ink. 

And now that I only have two jobs (my day job and this writing job) I have time to make revisions this spring as well as finish a draft of Jaya Book 3! The winding path continues, and I love the curve I'm on right now.