I've had my ups and downs with Publishing, and sure, this year could be called something of a downer. The series it took me four years to sell and two years to promote was cancelled one month after publication of the second book -- not what anyone would call uplifting. I consider this series the best thing I've written in years, however, so I'm happy I got the shot, and grateful to everyone who supported it. I will probably write a couple more stories set in the Toriana universe for fun, and post them online as free e-books, but that's likely all that will happen with Kit and the crew.
Of course I could go indie and begin self-publishing some new books on my own, because that's what almost everyone does now when their publisher says adieu or traditional publishing isn't working for them. Some authors are doing both indie and traditional, while others are bypassing publishers entirely and just moving ahead entirely on their own. I have immense respect for all authors who go this route; I think they're the most courageous writers out there.
I have been self-publishing for fifteen years by posting free stories online (yes, everyone forgets that.) I do need to make a living, however, and while self-publishing for profit is tempting, I've found something better.
Since October I've been freelancing as a copywriter and writer-for-hire, which is the better something. I was fortunate to land a couple of terrific ghost writing gigs, and I just accepted one client's third contract offer in as many months. Every project has been fast and fun, with extremely reasonable deadlines, and the pay is comparable to what I was making publishing my own works (I'm also paid for my work on the same day I turn it in, which never happens with traditional publishers.) One of my recent ghost projects became a bestseller* two weeks after it was released, so that was a nice confidence booster, too.
I can't tell anyone what I'm writing, which I admit sucks, but such is the nature of ghosting. It's a trade-off for all the other things I don't have to do, such as selling it, negotiating a fair contract, dealing with editors (good bad or indifferent), being on-call for the publisher 24/7, proofing and usually rewriting the copy, fighting for decent cover art, correcting bookseller listings, writing bios, dodging bio photo requests, sending it out for review, promoting it on the blog, and imposing on other bloggers to help me promote it, waiting months or sometimes years for payment, etc.
If I opted to self-publish, I'd have to do all of the above and more on my own, and to turn out a professional-level book I'd also have to hire an editor, a cover artist, a technical person to help me with all the technical details, and possibly some sort of publicity service. Which as all indie authors can tell you can get very, very expensive. Once I paid for all that (assuming I could even afford to), I'd put my self-pubbed book out there and hope enough people want to read it that I can make a profit -- out there with all the other hundreds of thousands of self-pubbed books -- all while praying the self-publishing host doesn't change their terms, demand a bigger percentage, mishandle my listing, etc.
This is another reason why I admire indie authors -- just thinking about dealing with all they have to do freaks me out. So while I respect indie publishing, and I am happy for everyone for whom it works, it's simply not a good choice for me.
Ghost writing costs me nothing. I write, I get paid, and I'm done. I'm valued and treated with respect by my clients as well, which is very nice. I don't know if I'll keep ghosting forever -- I'd love to work with Adam Wilson over at Pocket again, as I think he's pretty close to the perfect editor -- but for now I'm enjoying the freedom and the complete lack of hassle involved in my writer-for-hire work. More importantly it pays the bills, the IRS, my medical insurance premiums, my kid's college tuition and so forth, all of which I know isn't your problem, but I need to deal with most of these things for the next fourteen years until I can officially retire.
I'm also considering putting up a writer-for-hire section on the blog, which if I do will just be a page on the sidebar that lists my services and rates. I don't really want to use the blog in this way, but again I have to be practical, and it wouldn't be in anyone's face like ads or buy buttons.
I became a writer first by using longhand on a legal pad and then tapping out my stories on a manual typewriter. I spent ten years getting rejections in the mail every week before I landed my first contract offer. I've never been scared of hard work, putting in the extra hours, and taking the road less traveled. I'm also not afraid of change. The changes I've made this year have contributed significantly to making my writing life less stressful and more productive.
I know the fact that I'm focusing now on writer-for-hire work will disappoint some of my readers. I'm sorry about that, too. After putting so much work into the last series only to see it cancelled, I feel just as disappointed, but I need to be realistic. I also don't want to drag out hopes for another series revival for years and years, as I did with StarDoc and Darkyn. I don't think that's fair to you or me.
I'm still making a living doing what I love, and no matter what form that takes, for me it will always be a privilege and a joy. I also love this blog, and the people who visit here, and you have to know that's not going to change. So: let's move ahead, not worry about the future, and see what happens as it happens.
*I am not the ghost writer who penned the book for that Youtube chick Zoe whatever, just in case someone is assuming that.