The end of the year always encourages me to reflect on the year passing and the new year ahead. The passage from 2016 to 2017 has done no different. I count 2016 as a triumph. I accomplished the publication of two novels in 2016 and saw some very positive feedback and continue to see an increase in readership as the weeks pass. Every year for many years publication, or at lease finishing a project, was high on my resolution list. Something clicked for me in 2016 and all the hang ups I've had about plotting and whether the story I wanted to tell had merit just slipped away. I stopped writing according to the critical voice in my head and finally just let the words come. It has been amazing.
My family is solid, and my husband and I just celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. It is by far the easiest relationship I have ever had. He is always my best friend and he always makes me feel like I matter, in a way that we all need to feel, and I hope I do the same fore him. Our kids are healthy and strong. My family connections are closer than at any time in my life. I have reconnected with cousins and distant family through social media and have even been in contact with "family" that we haven't figured out the connection yet, but we know it is there, because really there aren't many Gallions out there. My parents, brothers, and sister are all in touch is a way that feels very familiar and comforting, but hasn't alway been there. It is nice to know that they are close, that we are close.
With those things in mind, feeling sentimental over all the successes and struggles we've seen in 2016, I count the year as a triumph.
Looking forward to 2017, what will that be? There are many things that feel like they shifting and turning, like cogs in a machine, moving me forward toward something out in the future. It is fraught with possibility. The first big possibility is a scheduled meeting with a small press that appoached me about possibly joining their catalog. I know the publisher, I am familiar with and respect their product line. I am familiar with the editorial staff and know a couple of their current authors. There are many things that may make this a good transition. I have loved, I mean seriously loved being self published. I have loved the sense of control over my work, I have loved the flexibility associated with independence. I have loved seeing something I did, entirely, put out to the world. Those things may still be availbale for me with the right small press, but the things that publishing with a small press, or any press for that matter, affords a writer, in my mind are twofold. First, publishing with a press offers legitimacy.
Having a publisher listed on your work rather than a print on demand independent platform, proclaims that the book has been edited, has passed all the hoops to publish, and is ultimately something of quality. Self publishing has a stigma associated with it because anybody can publish anything. I have been contacted by several self published writers to review their work for my blog and there are some that are on my list to review, when I finally get a time to sit down and read again, but several others I had to decline. I won't do a review on a book that I don't see merit in, I won't trash somebody else's work, I am not a critic. I am a lover of books who understands that everytime somebody mentions a small press or self published work it helps to spread the word. I will only write on my blog about books that I think have been written well, and have been thoroughly edited, and read by at least a handful of beta readers before heading off to print. One young man asked me to read his book and it was so overrun with spelling errors and half thoughts that I returned it to him and suggested that he reread it himself at least once before updated the file. I never heard from him again, There was a lot of work to be done on that particular book, so maybe he is just being more diligent before sending it out again. That is the rub, while many writers who self publish have beautifully written and competently edited works, some do not. Those who toss some words together and throw it out to the world simply to snag a few sales before the reviews catch up, or simply to have a byline, do a huge disservice to those who are working hard to put out quality.
When I had first published Intoxic and was beginning to hear positive things from readers I reached out to my hometown newspaper to ask if they would do a piece on me or the book. I explained that the book was set in East Central Illinois. The only, ONLY question they asked me was if it was self published. When I said that yes it was, they told me they were not interested. I was sorely disappointed, but after reading some of the "books" that have been forwarded to me, I understand. There is no threshold of quality in self publishing, and therefore it is less legitimate than traditionally published works.
The second benefit of publishing with a traditional publisher is distribution. Having a publisher listed on your book, rather than a print on demand source means that bookstores are more likely to stock your book because the publisher can negotiate return policies. Print on Demand does not afford returns. For a book seller to stock my books they have to absorb the risk of those books not selling. I understand that. While my books can be ordered from Barnes and Noble or Books A Million, or any other brick and mortar bookseller, those stores will not stock my books because I am an unknown quantity, and they can't return my books if they don't sell. Retail shelf space is expensive. I value very much the small local book stores that have welcomed my books to their shelves. Walls of Books in Peachtree City, Georgia and Pensees Book Shop in Charleston, Illinois both carry stock of my books. Slowly, as my catalog increases, more book stores will take a chance and at some point you may even see the big boys make room, even if I continue self publishing. If I move forward with a traditional publisher my books may have substantially wider distribution as early as 2017.
Another exciting possibility coming in 2017 is a meeting with a analyst who is reviewing Intoxic for its merit as a potential screenplay. I have so many readers tell me that they "see" Intoxic as a movie that I figured it couldn't hurt to see if someone in the business "sees" it. I will keep you posted as we move forward with all the big things coming up in 2017.
Happy New Year to all. I hope 2017 brings you much joy, more peace, and all the things that make your heart whole and well.