The Scientific Method


“I’m contemplating applying the scientific method.”

If said that at my day job, I might get booted out for not using it sooner. Typically, when playing with chemicals and cell cultures, logic, precision, methodology, and accuracy are considered standard practice. In the realm of fiction writing, one might wonder how the scientific method applies. Well, it isn’t so much the writing process, rather the publishing process that I am tempted to experiment with.  For two years I’ve been following the traditional method of submit, wait, get rejected, rinse and repeat. Some of the larger publishing houses are black holes. You submit, are not allowed to submit to ANYONE during the six to eight months they request, and yet, at the end of that time, nada. Silence. Zip. Did anyone even read the submission or did it get put under the leg of a wobbly table and forgotten? Your guess is as good as mine. I’ve had positive feedback from some smaller publishers, but smaller houses often stick to very strict genre guidelines. When I sat down to write, I purposely included elements from three different genres. I’ve seen it done to varying degree in other books, and as one who loves to defy categorization, I said, “Why not?” It is both frustrating and rewarding to have an editor tell you they couldn’t put the book down, but that it doesn’t suit their house. So, I found another publisher and I’m on month five of the six month wait. *sigh* I plan to continue this process, if only to prove myself and my writing.

As I watch brick and mortar bookstores close one after another my views on publishing are shifting. Five years ago I would have laughed at the idea of publishing in any type of e-book format. A year ago I decided I wanted a publishing house that put out both  e-books and traditional trade or mass market books. This year I’m beginning to wonder how long it will be before the traditional book becomes a specialty item that only those with large amounts of disposable income can afford.

Self-publishing, a.k.a. vanity publishing, is not new. I’ve met a couple of authors who went that route and were picked up by publishing houses, but they are the exception rather than the norm. With the boom of e-readers (Kindle, Nook, and iPad– none of which I own), another phenomenon has risen. Self-published e-books. Instead of contracting a company for hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars for less than quality work, people are circumventing that and marketing e-books directly to the public through Amazon.com. Both new and established authors have found surprising success. Joe Konrath and Amanda Hocking are two of several who’ve had positive experiences in the self e-pub realm. As Ms. Hocking points out, it isn’t for everyone, but I’m tempted to explore this phenomenon. I have several projects in various states of completion. If finding a home for my primary series is proving difficult, I suspect the second series I’ve started will be even harder. I’ve met and talked with authors, editors, and booksellers over the past six years. Unless an author had an established track record of good sales, outside the “Big Six” publishing companies, publicity is minimal, promotion and marketing up to the author, and control over content and cover art can be frighteningly nonexistent. So, I pose the question, “How is publishing an ebook all that different?”


My inner scientist perks up at that magic word: “how”.

The experiment: Pursue traditional publishing with my first series and provide updates with progress. Research Kindle Direct Publishing, finish, polish, and proceed with a smaller project, posting updates including both successes and mistakes.
Any bets on how this will turn out?

Who thinks I should put on my lab coat, green goggles, and take on this experiment?

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4 responses to “The Scientific Method

  1. We had this conversation the other day, which I’m thinking might have led you a little more along this here path. E-pub isn’t going away (at least not as long as there are smart phones, computers, Ipads etc.) As much as I, a traditional reading girl, love holding real books in hand, I see it becoming more and more a reality. (I, in fact, complained this was going to happen many years ago when a bunch of people were saying oh no, vanity press will NEVER catch on. The industry won’t allow it.)

    Would I start with your series, I’m not sure. As I told you, the Kansas writing group is all over jumping on the Amazon wagon where apparently they are set up to take on your short fiction, your novels and your how to books. The only cut goes to Amazon and as long as you adhere to their guidelines, you even get creative control of your cover while getting paid for every book someone downloads. Definitely it allows you to tailor your own marketing angle/program toward your target audience and gather them in so you can build your following. After all, everything we hear now is WE have to do most of the work to build up our presences and promote ourselves (unless we are lucky to have become lucrative lightning like a J.K. Rowling or Nora Roberts etc., and they are the exception to the rule.

    There are so many unknowns at this point, and I am going to try and catch some more info this weekend at the KWI meeting (via Skype) and the course I’m taking from Holly Lisle now includes going this route (she’s had over 40 books published the traditional route and yet she’s going in this direction and moving away from traditional publishers) and I’ve downloaded a how to make money off of doing it the Amazon way (see someone got my $3.99 for an ebook already) so I can better participate in the upcoming conversation. There’s also a gal if anyone is interesting, giving a webinar on this around September 7th.

    So the short answer, now that I’ve gone on in long fashion is: maybe. But perhaps you should not start with your series but instead with some shorter fiction and see how that goes. If you build enough of a fan base, a traditional publisher or small press may snap you up for the bigger series. Or, you may find that it all works to your advantage anyways.

    My question comes in as to where and how you work the author signing angle. I guess promo will become more important if this keeps up, and coming to see your favorite author for something to sign a whole new interesting venture. What this means to all book sellers down the road, is anyone’s guess.

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