Over the last month, I made a realization that forced me (in many ways) to completely alter the way in which this blog is run. This realization resulted in a feeling of great loss.
It reminds me of a portion in Steve Carell the film, Little Miss Sunshine, in which one of the protagonists, a young boy who dreams of becoming a pilot, finds out near the end of the film that he will never be able to fulfil his dream because it tunes out he is colour blind but never realized it. This is the sort of tragedy-upon-realization that I experienced. That, essentially, I had made an assumption that there was nothing wrong in what I was doing when in reality it was contributing to the contradiction of one of my major goals.
And what was something? Well, publishing. I wanted to publish some of my novels especially Alice and Finch. I wish to publish that book, but at the same time I had released for free the first draft of it on my website. And it turns out that that’s quite a problem.
You see, in the modern competitive publishing world, publishers want to be the first to release your content. They want what is called first publishing rights.And they also, unsurprisingly, want exclusivity. And now maybe a picture is forming of what our problem is.
But in case you don’t allow me to bring you onto the same journey that I was forced to take that forced me to realize it. While reading some sortof writing blog, I came upon the sentence or two that essentially stated: Works released for free on your website. Count as works being published. You see, for all intents and purposes, that’s what’s happening. You are releasing it to the public for potential mass consumption.
And therefore it is unpublishable because you no longer hold the first publication rights. Your website is technically the first place of publication. So even if you remove it from your website and therefore get the exclusivity back, it’s still been published. And thus, my two major novels no longer hold this first publication right in the eyes of many publishers (although not all). The accuser states that this has already been taken from the two works; regardless of definition.
So for now, apart from a few initial chapters to maintain interest and function as a sort of promotional preview, Alice and Finch has been removed from this website (or rather, hidden behind a privacy wall). The same goes for The Solune Prince, although the entirety of Novella 1 is still available for a couple reasons. The first is that I don’t mind giving that away for free, and the second is that the revisions to it are going to be so huge that if I do ever want to publish it, it will essentially be a completely different book—perhaps even with a different title.
As you can no doubt tell by my analogies and conclusions, this has come as a great pain to me. I wasn’t expecting it.
At the same time, I choose to see it at least partially as an opportunity. Even if these two major novels of mine which I’ve worked on for the past five years cannot be traditionally published, I can still do something with them on my own. As some of you know, two years ago I incorporated. I began what is for now functioning as a publishing house so that I am not a self publisher, but rather an independent publisher—even though I’m the owner and only employee. The other bit of solace is that often many publishers will make an exception with your book as long as you’re upfront with them. Also really, what’s the issue, especially if it wasn’t an official release but almost an incidental one? It’s not as if my novels are widows. It’s not as if I went through the trouble of self-publishing them on Amazon. But I digress, perhaps we’ve gone a little too far into this torturous metaphor.
Interestingly, I always had a feeling that The Solune Prince would be the sort of novel that, although in my own mind great, would never stroke the fancy of a publisher. Particularly because it aims to be both high fantasy and also literary realism, two genres which are often seen as opposites. On top of that, it is rather huge. It was only recently that I realized that I could simply be silent about my literary aspirations and pitch it as a fantasy novel. Further, the length could actually be a good thing. It means that the novel could be easily broken into a series, and if you have an entire series ready, you’re somewhat more likely to be published. Especially in fantasy, where series are very common. That also gets rid of the length issue, meaning that there was—or perhaps is—a lot of potential for The Solune Prince to end up in traditional print.
In addition to all this, I’ve been working on the second edition of The Demo Tapes. For a little over half $1000 (which is quite normal for a work of this length if not affordable) the work was edited. As of right now, I have been kind of avoiding going over the edits and completing the project. But soon enough, it will be ready for self publication. Or at least that’s what I thought.
Then I found out all about how releasing on your website counts as publishing. Now, interestingly, the hitherto aimless Demo Tapes began to take on a new role in my mind. Two new roles. Now the demo tapes will be released as two separate shorter books. The second is exactly the same as The Demo Tapes—a survey of many of my greatest writings so far, both fiction and nonfiction. But the first is more interesting and hooks into the idea that at least some of my works are going to have to be independently published. This will take some of the narrative chapters out of The Demo Tapes and bring them into a new promotional anthology. The goal will be to sell an inexpensive collection of works that sortof mostly end on a cliffhanger, and encourage readers to pick up the entire work, perhaps even for discount. Then I can periodically release free versions of this collection during promotions, when their full works are out for readers to buy of course.
And that’s all I’m going to say, but all that for now. It’s been a wild ride, but I’m cresting a new hill. I’m not sure what’s on the other side, but it seems as though I’m very close to the beginning of this journey.
This explains, by the way, why new chapters of the Solune Prince have not been being released, and will likely apart from excerpts, never again be put online for free. This site will still contain short stories and even chapters but the focus will shift slightly to things like book reviews and blogging thoughts, ideas, and anything that I think might be useful to you, the reader.
The blog will obviously survive as a place for short stories, novel reviews, and even nonfiction book reviews as well. I will likely relegate promotion to a brand new website and leave this one as a calmer place where nothing is expected of the reader or visitor. And I hope that you might subscribe to this site and receive updates…and turn from a visitor to a reader.
That’s all for now, from the frontlines of publishing and creative writing,