Holland Bay Again

red-inked manuscript

(C) 2008 Nic McPhee, used under Creative Commons

I had to dust off Holland Bay once more this past week. This time, I was asked to do it instead of doing it on some self-imposed deadline. Yes, this means someone took an interest in the book. That’s the good news.

The bad news, of course, is that a check is not involved yet. But that’s okay.

This provides some validation for the decisions I made concerning Holland Bay. A few people are asking my why I would ever go traditional, even going as far as to say, “Well, you’re selling your books wrong.”

Uh huh. Show me your sales figures. Show me some evidence you’ve found a better way. It’s not that I’m against going independent. Just look here for proof. But when someone sells a book, they tend to have more money. I’ve been told horror stories about what the Big Five does to authors and about shady or incompetent agents. All I have to say to that is show me the money. When it comes to crime fiction, it’s almost always the traditional authors who can do that.

I still plan to do my science fiction work as “Dick” independently. Science fiction, though, tends to build more loyal audiences. As I said before, if you give nerds something they think is cool, they’ll follow it almost religiously. It’s a very cool process and a lot more interactive. And if I have control over the entire process, then it’s me reacting to the readers instead of me reacting to the readers, the editor, and the publisher’s marketing department.

I don’t know why it is crime fiction doesn’t embrace independent writers more. Yes, I know Kindle has made self-pub a shit volcano. I get it. I just don’t get why some people act like that makes them a victim.

Nor do I get why people have to be so tribal about independent vs. traditional. Tribalism is bad. It’s why we have real wars. It’s why Facebook on some days is a cesspool of incoherent rage by people too stupid to deal with their own problems.

Now maybe I’m being a hypocrite by traditionally publishing as Jim and self-publishing as “Dick.” But it’s my situation. I have to justify the expenses, the level of effort, and the impact on the rest of my time. I’m not just a writer.

Then again, maybe that’s the problem most people seem to have. They want to be writers. I want to write. The former is one of fragile ego and poor self identity. Being a writer becomes more important than the writing itself. That’s ass-backwards. I want to write. For a living if I can pull it off, but I have to remember there are mortgages, student loans, and a car to pay. I have a family that would like me to interact with them more. I’ve known a few writers for whom being a writer occupied their entire time. They worried more about the politics of the business, the promotion, and whether or not other writers (including me) were following the same path. They’ve had some success but are not what you would call bestsellers. They also weren’t much fun to be around after a point.

And then there are the guys who talk about anything but writing. They’re computer programmers and college professors and cops and chefs and… They’re also parents and spouses, musicians and marathon runners. They have bills that pile up just like mine, and they’re not afraid to vent about that in the bar at Bouchercon. Why should they be? They write. And then they get on with their lives. And most of the ones I’m talking about are more successful than me. The ones that aren’t?

Well, they seem to be happier. Even if they aren’t, they’re more fun to hang with.

But someone has taken an interest in Holland Bay, made suggestions, and asked for revisions. These won’t be the last. Had this person not said anything, I had a plan to pitch the novel elsewhere. Failing Plans B, C, and D, plan E would have been simply to offer it to you independently and be done with it. It might even have been the end of the brand called “Jim Winter.” And that’s OK. Because I’m not a writer. I write.

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