Of Mice and Indies

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons – Dan Foy

by Ron Estrada

When Gina started this blog way back in the days of wired
mouses, our journey was different. There was one path: Write a book, get an
agent, sign with a publisher.

All this took about seventeen years in writer time.
And then something funny, scary, and wonderful happened.
Some enterprising soul, who will, no doubt, have a bronze statue of him or her
erected on the Avenue of the Americas, grasping a Kindle in one fist high above
the combustion engine exhaust, pointed to said e-reader and shouted, “What
the…”
Translated: we are now masters of our own destiny (destiny,
which here means lofty success or disastrous failure).
Like many of you, I’ve devoured books, blogs, and tweets
from the self-publishing gurus of our day. Allow me to write a long summary of
my findings:
Write. Write some more. Do all this very, very fast.
See you next week.
Okay, I’d better add to that if I want to get paid…wait…WHAT?!?
Moving right along. As I write this, I have a Production
Schedule in front of me. It is cleverly titled Ron’s Production Schedule. I treat it with the same respect as I
would an assignment from my boss.
The schedule is grueling. It says I’ll finish a draft every
two months for the rest of my life. I have three columns titled PLOT, WRITE,
EDIT. Every two months, the book titles under these headings shift. This means
I’m working three books at a time. Yes, I’ll have help with editing and
plotting can be done throughout the day, when I’m supposed to be doing some
engineering stuff or whatever. But it’s still a finger-numbing schedule.
Back in the day of the wired mices and one-sheets, we were
told this is not realistic. This is art. Art cannot be rushed. Art takes time.
Well, if Art wants to eat tonight he’d better get off his
lazy (insert edgy noun for secular blog) and start bustin’ some keys. Because
Art is now in the business of sales. This is nothing new. The reason most
entrepreneurs and writers fail is because they pause and bask in the glow of
that first success. When a gazelle pauses it gets eaten. ‘Nuff said.
We are artists. But there’s no reason to be of the starving
sort. The well-fed artist will learn terms like “sales funnel” and
“calls-to-action.” The fat ‘n happy artist will get the (edgy adjective here)
book written on schedule. Not perfect? Never will be. Pack it and ship it. 
As I’m writing this, a Borders bookmark popped out of my
Strunk and White. I love symbolism. I used to love Borders. But it’s gone. My
nearest bookstore is a massive place of wonder called Second and Charles. They
sell mostly used things. My wife and I love flipping through their thousands of
record albums (yes, albums). They have old posters, movies, and…books. With
real covers and paper and the names of publishing houses on the spline.
Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons – Ruthanne Reid

Know where Second & Charles is located? In the old
Borders building. Did I say I love symbolism?
Yes, I still dream of my name on those Borders shelves. I
fantasize about award ceremonies where I get lavish praise from my publisher
and Stephen King hands me my little plaque with AUTHOR OF THE CENTURY
emblazoned over a little image of a Royal typewriter. We’ll clink glasses of
Dom Perignon and Steve-o (I call him Steve-o) will whisper an inside joke about
our time on the French coast when I wrote an entire scene on the leg of…oops,
save it for the secular blog, Ronboy (he calls me Ronboy).
But you get the drift. We’ve come full circle. The artist
must produce his or her art. Then do it again. And again. We are masters of our
own fate. Yeah, you can still write a book, get it trad published, and stare at
it on your shelf (I’d have book-staring parties). I understand there are some
trad published authors still out there making a living at it. I suspect,
though, that, one by one, the veteran and the rookie, will utter “What the…”
and realize he or she is being left behind. With Borders. With Royal typewriters.
With wired-meeses.
Will the big publishers adapt and lure us back in? I really
hope so. Somewhere there’s a part of me that wants that constant in my life.
But I’m an artist and a
businessman.  Art must eat, first and
foremost.
What about you? Are you going to stay the Traditional route
or have you decided to set out on your own? Really, I’m looking for anyone to
talk sense into me. Now’s your chance.

Ron Estrada is a YA and Middle Grade Novelist and has a regular column in Women2Women Michigan entitled “Don’t Tell My Wife I Wrote This.” His self-publishing journey begins…right about now. Follow his progress (and lessons learned) at www.RonEstradaBooks.com