Yes, I put that in quotes for a reason. So many people think that if a book hasn’t made it into a trade publisher, then it’s not a “real” book. I call BS.
The reality is that it takes just as much work, if not more, to publish a book independently. Trade publishing is great for riding the wave of what’s hot (right now), but it doesn’t help for those stories that don’t fit into easily defined categories. This is the problem I’m currently having. I write a lot. I mean, like a whole lot. Like, my husband thinks I’m insane kinda a lot. Fantasy, Sci Fi, some romance… and everything in between. I’ve currently been shopping a novel about gamers.
Now, here’s the problem. The book stars people who play first person shooters… niche market. The characters are between 17 and 34 years old – so YA is out. New Adult is a possibility, but still pushing the limits. The main character is a strong willed (and then some) girl, trying to break into a scene that is dominated by guys. Oh, and it’s set in modern day. There’s no magic, no end of the world, no greater risks. Just a story about one stubborn chick trying to live her dream, and often making it harder on herself.
So who do I sell that to?
It doesn’t’ really hit with the commercial fiction crowd. It doesn’t appeal to most of what’s easily defined as the main genres. If I guess wrong, agents think I’m an idiot, and pass me by. I’m ready to pull my hair out!
So, while that’s making the rounds, I’m prepping a military fantasy with sci-fi elements. Oh, yeah, and it’s epic fantasy… with sci fi elements. Save the world, fall in love, kill some men and eat them….. Yeah, this is what I write. It’s NOTHING like the previous book.
And then I have the romance story about a girl with cancer. Hmm, and there’s not a lot of sex in it, because um, it’s cervical cancer. Its just a sweet love story. It’s also pretty damned good, even if I’m not really into romances (usually, many disclaimers here about abusive men being a trope I hate).
So, I’m spending my free time writing a late roman era gladiator book, about a germanic type princess who is sold into the games for political reasons (let them kill her off) and how she learns that she’s not just good for being a wife and mother. Much bloodshed, friendship love, and stuff. It’s fun, it’s a bit tropey, but I’m still writing.
Four books. Four very different books. Numbers 1 and 2 are being prepared for trade publishing. Three is going to be self published (soon! We’re finalizing everything now!) and four? I dunno, I’ll see how it turns out. It’s not exactly something I see publishers falling all over themselves for, but that doesn’t mean people couldn’t enjoy it.
My point is – going the long way around – that I think there’s a place for every type of book. For some, that might be the garbage, but for many? I dunno, I like picking up a cheap and easy read to blow a couple of hours. I can’t be the only one, and the costs of trade publishing make that (addictive) hobby a bit restrictive on my current budget. I buy up self published books like kids eat candy. I just don’t understand all the hate for it.