Wednesday, May 4, 2016

"For one brief, shining moment..." Or, My Thoughts on the Closing of Booktrope

The other day, I was struggling to find a way to define what Booktrope represented to me as a writer coming in, and then as an author published through their team-publishing model. Then, someone online (please forgive me, I forget who it was: if you let me know I will correct this post to include your name and credit you properly for the reference) compared what Booktrope was to Camelot, and I thought, Bingo. Nail, head, hit.

It was a place where everyone worked (at least for a time) as a team of equals. Sure, there were issues with some teams not working out and people coming and going but overall, since 2013 I published five novels with them, and I am immensely proud of that body of work. I know that the people who worked with me helped to make the books better in countless ways, through editing, cover design,  project management, and even dealing with my absolute inability to correctly use a semi-colon (sorry, Jennifer! Love you! xoxo)

Emotions have understandably run very high since the closing was announced at approximately 5PM EDT time last Friday. I for one was shocked but not surprised; I had seen the writing on the wall for a while. I had even said to my husband within the past few weeks, “Why is it I sense a tremor in the Force telling me that soon I’ll have to cope with my books going out of print?”

And I was right: that is exactly what is going to happen on May 31st

My five beautiful Booktrope published novels

My books will vanish from all points of sale (aside from third party sellers of paperbacks, of course. Those may stay out there for a bit.) Oh, and piracy sites *laugh* I’m sure that my books will remain on some of those as well. (I just wish I knew how many people had read them through those sites! Honestly, I’m being serious.) All that ever mattered to me was having my stories read; though I did try my hardest to market to the best of my ability and as my health allowed. I gave it all my level best. And that includes for the year I was self published before GODSPEED and OF STARDUST were picked up by Booktrope.

Now… I’m tired. Yet, somehow, I’m renewed and looking forward to what happens next to my stories and all the characters that inhabit them.

I’ve been writing since early childhood, but I’ve only been publishing for the past five years. I’d only become interested in ever becoming published about six years ago, after I lost and regained my eyesight. Somehow, that dream came into being.

First it was poetry and prose in literary magazines, then a few short stories. More poetry and a few paintings were published along the way as I worked with a team of friends and pros to get GODSPEED out into the world.

I was published for the very first time (thank you, Rusty Nail editor and author Craig Hart) just before I turned 40.

Now, just as I am turning 45 this month, I will have to stand and watch as a lot of that work goes away.

Such sad words, these: out of print

I don’t have it in me to indie publish again. It’s not that people haven’t offered to help, or that I haven’t done it before. I have, and that’s why I know I don’t have the health or strength to do it again, let alone times five books.

So I’ve settled up with the teams that worked on my Booktrope books (who showed incredible generosity to me for which I will be forever grateful) and I have decided that the home for my stories is obvious; because two of those five novels already have a had a home there for a long time, and two more did for a time as well.

The answer, for me, is Wattpad.

Therefore, after my books disappear from Amazon, BN, and iTunes on May31 and the rights revert back to me on June 1, I will begin publishing the books that are missing from my collection on Wattpad. (GODSPEED and UPON A TIME have been up there for a long time with Booktrope’s blessing, so I see no need to remove them for the three weeks remaining until shut down.)

It’s going to be a monumental amount of work to transfer the books over (especially if I can’t get that pesky formatting glitch that has plagued me on Wattpad for a while worked out…) It’s going to be hard on my eyes, and I can only work on them so fast. But I hope to get a head start and begin uploading so I can push “publish” on June 1st and have at least part of OF STARDUST back up there to offer my readers.

They loved the book when it was on Wattpad before; it had 1.2 million reads when I had to take it down for contractual reasons. Those reasons exist no more. So back it will go, as will its sequel IN STARLIGHT. I also plan to post the never-available-on-Wattpad-before novel WISHING CROSS STATION. I have to procure a new cover for it first, and will soon start the process of doing that.

Then I can just let people do what I have always wanted them to do: read my books.

No more sales figures or garnering reviews to worry about. No more mandatory social media posts. Marketing as I've known it will become a part of my past.

I’ll have freedom to share the stories with people who would never be able to buy them… and I have heard from so many of them in my three years on Wattpad. It always brings a tear to my eye when someone who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to read one of my books says they love it. It never, ever gets old. I look at Wattpad as the world’s biggest public library; and I love the idea of access to my books for anyone with a phone, tablet, or computer.

Make no mistake, I am heartbroken that Booktrope is going away, and I feel terrible for the eleven people on staff who will be losing their jobs, not to mention the countless authors, editors, proofers, book/project managers, and artists who have all been thrown into an emotional blender over all of this. No one wins in this situation; it is just a sad fact of life that often, businesses don’t make it.

In the end, I will look back on my time with Booktrope with deepest gratitude above all else. They believed in my work enough to give it a chance to be seen on the marketplace; they connected me with wonderful people that I hope to remain in contact with for years and years to come. Many on staff itself have become dear to be because of all the help and kindness shown to me over the years. I won’t ever forget what they’ve done.

Perhaps the team publishing model was too good-- too idealistic-- a thing to last.

But for a time… for “one brief shining moment…” as the Lerner and Lowe song goes… there was Camelot, and it was a beautiful place to be.

Travel well, fellow ‘Tropers. May all your work find a way back into the world that brings you joy, happiness, and above all, peace.

My dream hasn’t died, though I’m parting ways with publishing as an industry. It has only changed… and now I think it could grow to be bigger, and better, than I ever dared to hope before.