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Screw This Crap


Writing quirky YA books is the thing I do of which I'm most proud. By far.

But these days reading any "book world" tweets or articles makes me want to go listen to break up songs. "Woke Up New" by the Mountain Goats seems especially apropos these days, even though it's about a person.

I've started calling myself a "recovering author" lately. I'm still working and have a few new novels written, but I don't think there's much room for me in the YA world these days.

After five years and a dozen or so books, being published has been about 95% misery and humiliation and I'm having trouble imagining things getting any better. Many of my books were a LOT more fun BEFORE they came out. Fairy Godmofo and Debbie Does Detention were a lot more fun to talk about  than Extraordinary* and Sparks.  I think there's a market for my kind of books (every school I go into, there are kids who watch Doctor Who and hate Twilight even more than I do), but that's not the kind of kids publishers are aiming books at. Those kids generally don't read out of the YA section much anymore, and I sure as hell don't blame them. Going into a book store or any book event feels like being single at a Valentine's dance.

So now, with no new novels under contract for the first time in seven years, I'm sort of at a crossroads in which every external sign is that I ought to quit. I can't quit writing, and I'm not inclined to give up something that's been my main source of pride and a sense that I'm doing something of value for the whole of my adult life, but if I have to have one more conversation about ebooks, goodreads, how awful most of the blogs are, indie/trad, the decline of chain stores, how to write/sell/promote a book (most of what you hear on, say, yalitchat is a joke), I might well puke.

I have a Chicago history/ghostlore book due every month through the end of the year. Around December I'll have finished every outstanding contract and have nothing due for the first time in nearly eight years. I don't know what I'm going to do next, and I'm open to suggestions. Very open to suggestions.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
queenanthai
Aug. 13th, 2012 05:44 pm (UTC)
Self-publish.

I have heard nothing but good things about Lulu.com, and that's where a friend of mine has published an e-book, and it's where Wil Wheaton has published a few himself. Seriously. Obviously less money, but I think at this point you want more creative control anyway, and with Lulu it's all you, man.
adamselzer
Aug. 13th, 2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
That's one option, but you run into some of the same issues as trad publishing: if you don't have a built in audience, or a lot of marketing money, or a book in a popular genre/formula, it's tough to get it off the ground (I call it the Three Fs: Fame, Funding or Formula). That said, it WOULD be a way to control the marketing. I want to pretend my "banshee in a rock band" book is REALLY the diary of the guitarist from the three weeks before the vanished (her name as the author, some fake vids of the band, etc), and no publisher is likely to go along with that. Also, there's the Satanic YA that I won't sell to anyone who wont either A: let me keep the title Satan's Parents' Basement: A Novel For Young Adults Who Worship the Devil, or B: pay me enough to compromise. Like, changing "Fairy Godmofo" to "Extraordinary" probably didn't help the book, sales-wise, as much as they thought, but they paid me enough, at least. "Debbie Does Detention" was killed dead for next to nothing and I regret it. I about guarantee I could have sold more copies on my own than the publisher did for THAT one.
deenaml
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:11 am (UTC)
After talking to you (for like 2 seconds) at Rochester TBF, I read SPARKS and loved it after you said it was the one to read. But yeah, the title and frankly the cover image don't make it go out much from my lib. I put it on my LBGT display for June and it circed then, but Debbie Does Detention WOULD get more attention and is in the same voice/vein as the rest of the novel. So bah on that. Perhaps Flux will try to repackage it?

As for EXTRAORDINARY, I read that one too and laughed out loud (in preparation for your visit to Rochester), and the name + the cover image actually DO make it go out more from my lib (prob to teens who like that it makes fun of Disney).

But as for sales...OMG please the dystopian/paranormal romances need to CHILL OUT. My shelves are glutted with them -- bc that is mostly what there is to buy. (Some are fab, but still, VARIETY PLEASE!).

So all this rambling is to say...perhaps self-pub until the market changes/shifts back to humorous realistic...OR keep selling your books so that they will be out there when the market shifts as long as pubs will still buy them....

GOOD LUCK, Adam. Hang in there! (From a writer who has yet to be pubbed....)
adamselzer
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:14 am (UTC)
Oh, don't worry, paranormal is pretty much over (just having a possible paranormal being in a recent mystery I wrote made editors back away), and they aren't buying dystopia much anymore - they have enough bought to last through the end of the trend. This is bad news for all the libertarians I meet who seem to be writing dystopian YA to push libertarian belief systems.
deenaml
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:17 am (UTC)
HA! I hope the rest of the para-rom and dystopians all come out in 2012 so I can start fresh next year.

What I also don't need any more of are: brother/sister/bff/bf/gf/mom/dad died in a car accident that may/may not be the MC's fault, and then new secrets/new loves are revealed through the loss.

So yeah, please don't write that either.
adamselzer
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:20 am (UTC)
WEll, I don't mind killing somebody off, but you know me - if I were making it the focus of the plot, I'd find a way to make it FUN. These "please no more _____" conversations is where some of my best ideas come from (ie Extraordinary, which was my wife saying she was sick of books about girls who thought they'd die if they didn't go to the dance).
deenaml
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:22 am (UTC)
AHA! Then I look forward to your car accident novel. ;-)
aprilhenry
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:05 am (UTC)
I've had several times in my career where it looked like it was dead - and hey, now I make my living at it.

Maybe you should try your hand at writing for adults? Follow those kids to where they are reading?

Maybe step away from Good Reads and Twitter if they all they give is angst?

I put all my back list on ebooks and I don't make a ton of money at it. Maybe if I put time into it I would, but I don't.

Good luck!
adamselzer
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:11 am (UTC)
Oh, I blocked goodreads ages ago. Got one of those porn blockers and set it to block goodreads. I still get updates from time to time as a matter of course.

I'm waiting for my backlist to go out of print and get the rights back so I can put them up as "special edition" ebooks that restore all the swear words we took out to make it easier to get the books into BN, and with the proper titles (the titles/lack of swearing never helped anyway). But several only ever had one printing and yet still don't seem to be out of print. Just the first one, and rights reversion seems to take forever. But there'll hopefully soon be a "Now With More Swearing" version of "Suspended" soon :)

I'll just be focusing on nonfiction for a while.
aprilhenry
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:13 am (UTC)
Just never say never.
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