My Strange Publishing Journey

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cwbuecheler

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Hi There!

I'm Chris, and I thought the best way to introduce myself would be to talk about my publishing journey, which has been full of peaks and valleys so far ... I'm sure a lot of you can relate. 🙂

I've been writing since I was eleven years old, spurred on by an early love of Stephen King and Uncanny X-Men comics, but I didn't get serious about publishing until my twenties. I finished up my first novel, an action-oriented vampire book called The Blood That Bonds, sometime around 2003 and shopped it to a few agents. All of them rightly passed, as it was full of amateur mistakes and I desperately needed more seasoning as a writer.

By 2009, when I felt the book was in a much better place, Twilight had happened, and agents were all sick of vampire submissions. I decided to indie-publish, and found a surprising amount of success. The book and its two sequels, Blood Hunt (2011) and The Children of the Sun (2012) are still very well-reviewed on Amazon, Goodreads, and elsewhere and still sell a few copies every month. After that, I decided to try my hand at a Young Adult Sci-Fi novel, and released The Broken God Machine in 2013. Unfortunately, that didn't have much crossover appeal with my vampire audience, who mostly want vampire books, so it didn't sell as well ... but I'm still very happy with it. I think it's the first one I've written that actually could've found an agent, had I shopped it around, especially after I paid for a developmental edit on it.

My next book, Elixir (a near-future thriller), did find me an agent. Three, actually. I chose Kirsten Carleton, then of Waxman-Leavell but who shortly after moved to Prospect, and she was a tireless champion and a wonderful collaborator. We sent it to several editors and it racked up a lot of what I like to call "glowing rejections" - praise for the story and writing, but concern that it was too Sci-Fi for the thriller audience or too thriller for the Sci-Fi audience, that it couldn't be blown out into a mega-success, and similar. Death of the mid-list, and all that.

So we trunked it and I wrote a Sci-Fi/Horror novel called Pulse, which again went out on submission and again got a bunch of "This is great! Not for us, though." responses. We were getting ready to shop my next book, a space opera called Divergence Point, when Kirsten had to leave the business due to personal reasons. This left me back at square one, querying Divergence Point to agents. While I was doing that, I wrote a humorous, action-packed urban fantasy yarn in the vein of Christopher Moore called Possessed, which I've also been querying (both books have had a few full requests but no offer of rep). I also indie-published Elixir because I really like the book and wanted to share it with others. Similar to The Broken God Machine, it didn't find a ton of sales success, but the people who've read it seem to really like it!

That brings us up to present time. I'm about to start in on the second draft of my latest novel, Piety the Knife, a dark fantasy inspired in part by the Dark Souls video games, the graphic novel Monstress, and Stephen King's Dark Tower series. I still pitch Divergence Point and Possessed in Twitter pitch events but have stopped actively querying them. I also have submitted Pulse to a couple of small presses that take unagented submissions - it got pretty far with TOR Nightfire before finally getting rejected, and is currently out with Flame Tree Press. Will it get picked up? Probably not! Will Piety the Knife break through and find an agent? Only time will tell, I guess, but in the meantime I'll keep writing. I don't really know how to stop!

In addition to the writing, I've had a twenty-three year career in web development and am currently the VP of Web Applications for a promising Internet of Things startup serving an industrial market that no one's ever heard of. 😄 I like to draw, occasionally play guitar, spend too much time on video games, and follow the NBA. I'm looking forward to jumping in to this community and hopefully having fun interacting with some other folks on their own journey.

So that's my crazy story so far. Sorry for the verbosity. This is why my second drafts are always cut-cut-cut.

-Chris

 
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appositively

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This is an interesting story in itself! Especially from the perspective of someone who hasn't published anything. I wonder.. Have you considered doubling down on indie / self-pub and trying to make a go of it, as it sounds like you've found some success there? Or are your sights really set on trad?
 
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cwbuecheler

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This is an interesting story in itself! Especially from the perspective of someone who hasn't published anything. I wonder.. Have you considered doubling down on indie / self-pub and trying to make a go of it, as it sounds like you've found some success there? Or are your sights really set on trad?
This is an awesome question and it's something I've definitely considered! A few things factor in to my decision to continue pursuing traditional publishing. The first, and by far the biggest, is that I've always wanted the validation of seeing my book on store shelves with my name and a publishing imprint on the spine. It feels "real" to me in a way that indie publishing doesn't, even though I've sold more books as an indie than many "real" authors have managed. I recognize that that's probably a foolish way to feel but I don't seem able to shake it.

The second is that the lack of success for The Broken God Machine really bummed me out. I'd thought that I had enough of a connection with my existing reader base that they'd at least give a shot to something in a genre other than "sexy vampires with guns and swords" and was disappointed when that proved not to be the case. Don't get me wrong, I love my vampire novels, but I couldn't do what Charlaine Harris did with True Blood. I'd burn out.

Also, creating true indie success requires an unbelievable amount of marketing on the author's part, which is in itself practically a full time job. Then again ... that's pretty much true of being a published author these days.

Finally, I'm in the very fortunate position of earning an excellent living with a day job doing stuff I actually like, so I don't need to worry about generating income with my books. If I did, I would probably have done a lot more to try to keep the indie thing going, and grow that audience, rather than pivoting to querying with Elixir in 2014.
 
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regdog

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Welcome to AW


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Izz

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Welcome to AW, Chris! It's great to meet you :)

Sounds like you've had an action-packed writing journey so far! I'm sure you'll find many kindred spirits here. AW will be of great help to you, I'm sure. There's more information here regarding the craft and business of writing than you can shake a stick at, and a large, active community to engage with. You'll find plenty of peeps here who've self-published, plenty more who are trade-published, and a fair few who are going the hybrid route.

Please carefully read the Newbies Guide you were linked to upon registration, as well as the stickies in each room. I can't emphasize those two things enough. Not only will doing so help you understand the rules, etiquette and culture of the various spaces within the forums, you will also be helped to avoid potentially embarrassing newbie (in terms of AW, not writing :)) mistakes.

Take your time exploring the place. You might find the Horror and Science Fiction | Fantasy boards to be good starting points. Lurk a bit if you want, jump into conversations you find fun or interesting if you want, make friends, enjoy yourself!

See you around the boards :D
Izz
 
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appositively

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This is an awesome question and it's something I've definitely considered! A few things factor in to my decision to continue pursuing traditional publishing. The first, and by far the biggest, is that I've always wanted the validation of seeing my book on store shelves with my name and a publishing imprint on the spine. It feels "real" to me in a way that indie publishing doesn't, even though I've sold more books as an indie than many "real" authors have managed. I recognize that that's probably a foolish way to feel but I don't seem able to shake it.
No, I totally get that! Especially since it sound like it's not (only) about the money for you. I think you'll find there are many folks here in a similar boat. Welcome to AW!
 
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Nether

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Welcome.

spurred on by an early love of Stephen King and Uncanny X-Men comics,

So I imagine we'll get along.

So we trunked it and I wrote a Sci-Fi/Horror novel called Pulse, which again went out on submission and again got a bunch of "This is great! Not for us, though." responses.

You know, when I first read that, my immediate thought was the movie of the same name and I was like "holy crap!"... up until I remembered the one I was the remake of a a j-horror.

I also have submitted Pulse to a couple of small presses that take unagented submissions - it got pretty far with TOR Nightfire before finally getting rejected, and is currently out with Flame Tree Press.

tbh, I hadn't realized Nightfire was a thing until just before its open-submission period so I missed the cut-off. I finished the first draft of a horror novel since then (which I still need to fix up -- because I write pretty quickly, I've been kinda stuck juggling projects for the stuff that comes after the first draft), and I imagine that I can't get an agent for that, I'll probably submit to Nightfire during their next open call.


So that's my crazy story so far. Sorry for the verbosity. This is why my second drafts are always cut-cut-cut.

Well, AW is a home for stories :p
 

cwbuecheler

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Welcome to AW, Chris! It's great to meet you :)

Sounds like you've had an action-packed writing journey so far! I'm sure you'll find many kindred spirits here. AW will be of great help to you, I'm sure. There's more information here regarding the craft and business of writing than you can shake a stick at, and a large, active community to engage with. You'll find plenty of peeps here who've self-published, plenty more who are trade-published, and a fair few who are going the hybrid route.

Please carefully read the Newbies Guide you were linked to upon registration, as well as the stickies in each room. I can't emphasize those two things enough. Not only will doing so help you understand the rules, etiquette and culture of the various spaces within the forums, you will also be helped to avoid potentially embarrassing newbie (in terms of AW, not writing :)) mistakes.

Take your time exploring the place. You might find the Horror and Science Fiction | Fantasy boards to be good starting points. Lurk a bit if you want, jump into conversations you find fun or interesting if you want, make friends, enjoy yourself!

See you around the boards :D
Izz
Thanks for the warm welcome and I will absolutely read the guides before jumping in on a bunch of threads!
 

cwbuecheler

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tbh, I hadn't realized Nightfire was a thing until just before its open-submission period so I missed the cut-off. I finished the first draft of a horror novel since then (which I still need to fix up -- because I write pretty quickly, I've been kinda stuck juggling projects for the stuff that comes after the first draft), and I imagine that I can't get an agent for that, I'll probably submit to Nightfire during their next open call.
Thanks for the welcome and yeah, I only knew about Nightfire because an agent I follow happened to retweet their "submissions are opening up" thing last year. There's so much to keep track of in the publishing industry, it's easy to miss this stuff!
 

Kamel

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ha, i loved king as an 11 yr old also... some of his work that is all is suitable for.. he is however also my literary hero when he stays within the realms of realism.

i love stand by me, shawshank dolores claiborne. masterpieces imho but his horror, really? just nah, not for me....
 
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