Counter Point: Da Publishing Bidness! Success or not?

The issue of whether to self publish or not is rearing its ugly and tempting head. The last we had heard of our hero, he had decided to give the traditional channels another chance. That must include Nancy Cleary, a wonderful editor and publisher, who is trying to convince me to self publish with her help. It is a tempting idea. However, I am still stuck in the traditional mode. There is much to be said for tradition.

What is it then, that I am after? Is it success? No, I already have success. I’ve been successful for all of my life. Is it money? Let’s pause and look at that last question. Are you seriously asking me if I am writing for money? Or if I am taking up writing with the hopes of becoming a millionaire? < Uncontrollable laughter closes my throat, making it hard to laugh. I fall off my office chair. > That is like asking if Kim and I became innkeepers for the money? < chortle > And yes, people do tell us, not ask us, ‘our business but be a goldmine.’ That is usually worth a snort if not an outright laugh.

No, it can’t be that. If my only goal was to make money, I would pursue neither writing nor innkeeping. Not wanting Mr. Johnson to call me a blockhead, I will admit making some money from writing is desirous but if that were my only motivation, I surely would not pick these avenues.

You remember my detour away from writing fiction and into software that I have mentioned before? Well, it wasn’t a short detour into the Valley of Software lined with people throwing millions of dollars at me. No, it was a thirty-five year detour into the Valley of High Tech lined with people throwing money and options at me. Some of that money stuck and the rest was spent on going out to dinner and the clothes and cars to do it in style. I wish now that I had saved more but only in my weaker moments. I seriously never expected to live this long. Innkeeping is a lifestyle and a choice. It’s fun. It affords us more free time to spend doing the things we love and writing is one of them. We do make money but not as much as we did, by an order of magnitude, in the world of writing software.

Why then don’t I spend my time doing my two favorite things, one of which is reading and I can do by myself? Great question. I have only one answer to that. I write to get that mussy haired monkey of a muse off my back, out of sight and out of mind. I write because I am a compulsive individual who comes up with lots of great ideas, though, ironically enough, not when it comes to software products, just novels. My sweet wife, Kim, usually comes up with the software product ideas. No, I write because it is fun. Software allowed me to get the same rush that I got from writing while collecting a big paycheck. (Or it may be that writing fiction is my software methadone. They both allow me to create Worlds. They both give me a rush. And, supposedly, I can make money from writing fiction. Honest! There’s a whole big industry that will tell how to do exactly that.) A bigger paycheck than most writers ever see and certainly more than I will ever see as a writer. Sigh!

So, am I still successful? I feel I am. I get to spend my spare time, in between waiting on chocolate customers or filling on-line chocolate orders, writing about the world of the Omniverse. (And then there are the times I get to spend with my friends, the fabulous art teachers who teach at our two art schools and our equally fabulous students. For example, I just spend a week discussing my writing with my great friend Bob Burridge. What a treat! All of our students, interesting people to the last drop, also like to discuss things other than art. Though, discussing art and art history with intelligent people is another blessing that our inn and schools provide.)

Oh, I have 8 books planned out and an additional series for one of my characters, Erin. I am full of books. That is what I am after. I am after getting all these books out of my brain and into the readers’ hands. The question is how? I am not very secretive about my books. I’ve sent off two full manuscripts to complete strangers. Of course I have registered the copyrights. If anyone steals my work, I’ll fry them. But I don’t expect that. It’s too much work. It’s easier to just publish than steal. So, put your paranoid ideas, O Reader, behind you. And of course, Gentlemen Broncos and paranoid romance writers excepted. What then is the flip side of the Self-Publishing argument?

So, what’s the problem then? The problem is, right now, my premise sentence is better than my novel: “Successful, forty-year old Silicon Valley veterans, Carey and Bill Impollonia have mistakenly bought a demon haunted Victorian Inn doomed to destruction and unless they find the last Dragon Queen’s egg stolen by Oberon, King of the Fae, not only will they lose their inn but the entire Human universe as well.” I am very proud of that sentence. It’s perfect. I am also proud of my novel. It’s not perfect and I know it may never be perfect. I have achieved perfection with my elevator pitch, that’s what we called it in software, and I can give you a great elevator pitch for any of the companies I founded or help found.

For BrightStreet? WAMBAM, Web Application Meets Brick and Mortar. Monetize your website with promotions. Make your website a destination with promotions. Bring more customers to your website and your products, promote brand loyalty, with BrightStreet’s ePromotions. And for Nevik Networks? Turn your landline phone into the phone of tomorrow with Nevik branded applications. Allow your customers to buy and provision phone applications via the web. Nevik cuts down your costs by allowing your customers to pick and choose, pay for and provision phone features and applications without calling into your central office. (The iPhone killed this business. Sigh. We were ahead of our time.) Turn your Class 5 switch into a Soft Switch without sacrificing reliability or uptime.

But surely that can’t be it. Just because I am good at writing premise sentences does not mean my first book is bad or my second book mediocre. My second book, The Inn of the Star Crossed, is even better than my premice sentence for The Inn at the Crossroads. After all, The Inn at the Crossroads was the introductory book for the Omniverse series.

I also think book #3 of the Omniverse series, The Inn at Market Snodsbury is better than The Inn of the Star Crossed.

I can give you elevator pitches for all of my companies, Documentum, I was pre-IPO on that one. Netsys Technologies. Markim, Inc. All of them. So, writing elevator pitches or premise sentences are second nature to me. I can give you a premise sentence for all of my novels, even the ones not in the Omniverse series. Writing, editing and publishing a book, not quite as much. Ah, software! In my memory, thou art the shining World. Writing, thou art the ugly step child. Shall thou become a princess? Let us see. I am continually learning. Each novel I write is better than the last. But how will I know if what I write is worthy? That’s my final question and perhaps my final answer to the conundrum I face.

“My grief is that the publishing world, the book writing world is an extraordinary shoddy, dirty, dingy world.” –V. S. Naipaul

“Oh, I get it! You have to write about vampires!” –Mark Vincent LaPolla

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