We’ve only just begun
I remember the first e-reader I owned. It was a lovely red Sony thing that became obsolete almost before I figured out how to use it. That beautiful toy was like a lot of the publishing world in that moment—an industry founded on physical art was suddenly forced to reinvent itself in electrons. Everywhere one looked, awkwardness ensued.
As much as I loved that Sony, I don’t identify with it. Unlike my barely-cordless friend, as an author I was able to adapt and carry on. And as antiquated as my traditional publishing roots may seem to some, I value the lessons I learned along the way.
My first published book came out it 2006, but before that I wrote for newspapers and magazines. The best and most brutal of editors, in my opinion, work in print journalism. You write fast and you write concisely. If you can’t tell a story in 300, 800, 1000 or however many words are allowed, you don’t get any more freelance assignments. Do or die. Miss the cut-off for filing your piece and you don’t get paid. It’s a bit like boot camp for paragraphs.
I’ve also had the privilege of working with some amazing fiction editors, and that kind of coaching is priceless. Some were gardeners, shearing and pruning to shape the, um, abundance I presented. Others taught me to plot, build worlds, and dig deep for emotion. They all had a lesson for me, however delightful or dire, and I value every one.
I learned about that side of the writing business, too. I learned to pitch, to pick my battles, and to negotiate with other publishing professionals.
Indie publishing deals with the same things, but the approach is a little different. I can’t say what it’s like coming to indie first, because that wasn’t my experience. What I do know is that I’m incredibly grateful for a solid training in the craft. However, unlike that Sony, I’ve had to evolve. However excellent a foundation I had, I’ve had to keep on learning, and learning, and learning.