It has been estimated that between 80% and 90% of people feel as though they have a book in them. Someday, they think. They will sit down and type out this masterwork that they keep inside like a treasure locked in a trunk.Read More
Part of the reason that indie publishing is a slow burn is that there are a lot of brands for consumers to select from, and not a whole lot of differentiation to help them make their selections.Read More
I love indie authors.
I’ve been doing this for, let’s see, Tina and I formed Barely Salvageable in late June of 2015, so about six months now, and I’ve been researching the business a good deal longer than that, and every person I’ve met, either in person or via the internet, has been helpful, friendly, and open.Read More
When I think of mentorship, my mind’s eye is inexorably drawn to the distinguished features of Alec Guinness as he tried to impart wisdom on a shaggy-haired Mark Hamill. I never had any mentors, just teachers who spent their days despairing if the thirty mooks in their class would be able to spell their names right, let alone find their way in the world.Read More
I don’t really like the term “pantser.” It makes the whole thing sound like we don’t know what we’re doing. Of course, I find the term “discovery writer” to be pretentious, so pantser it is.
Here’s the thing about pantsers. We know what we’re doing. We’re just doing it differently.Read More
I wasn’t born a plotter. I was a pantser through and through. I would sit down in front of a computer screen and vomit out a few chapters, never knowing who I was going to meet or what the plot was or anything. It was great fun, coming up with stuff on the fly, having flashes of inspiration, and basking in the radiance of my own cleverness.
I never finished a book that way.Read More
What is the role of the publishing company? At its most basic, the job of publishing is to provide the public with content that the public wants to read, and earn a profit as a reward for a job well done. At first blush, it seems that large publishing companies are continuing to fulfill that role; books are still being made available to the market, and publishing companies are still earning profits. After all, if they were failing in their role, the market would provide a correction in terms of eliminating profits, right?Read More
Up until yesterday I don’t think that I was qualified to write a personal statement. Despite feeling that I knew that I should be a writer as early as my kindergarten years, I somehow spent my entire life wrestling with this bear of an idea. You see, growing up in the 80’s and 90’s in a small town in Wyoming, my lofty ideal of becoming a writer was met with a lot of helpful reasons why I shouldn’t pursue my dream. These people were well meaning, and loved me dearly, but the idea of me making enough money to survive just by writing books staggered their minds. They were trying to protect me from disappointment and hardship.
Unfortunately, enough voices in the chorus can be convincing. Who was I, that I thought I could write well enough to attract readers? Who would possibly interested in what I had to say?
I learned my lesson. Don’t write. It’s a waste of time. To be fair, this is probably not the message that anyone intended me to come away with, but I did. Until 2009, when everything changed.
For those of you who don’t remember, 2009 was the year that the economy bubble popped and burst everyone’s comfort levels. Layoffs hit me, then my husband back to back. We had a two year old son to care for. The economy was at the worst ebb it had seen. People talked about the Great Depression like it was a fond memory. Everyone was terrified.
Try though I might to find a replacement job, I ended up having a lot of free time on my hands. My son was happy to have Mommy time, but he was also content to play by himself, and other times I would sit down at night and let my mind wander and type.
I wrote two novels in 2009. Eventually I got another day job and quit writing, quit thinking about writing all over again. My novels were in my hard drive, and that was all that I cared about. It wasn’t until 2012, when a friend of mine had the brilliant idea to start up a publishing imprint and asked me if I had anything ready to go.
That was the start of something beautiful. Publishing had its setbacks, and the imprint didn’t exist for a full year before it closed down. My science fiction novel was the only one that got published. Differences of opinion, exclusion and losing the vision that started the little imprint caused its untimely demise.
What looked like the end was only the beginning. My friend Allie had no intention of letting it stop there. She saw the errors made by the previous imprint, and having learned from those mistakes she talked me into starting up a business. I went along with it because it sounded like a good idea. Deep down, I wasn’t sure that I could handle it. It seemed like so much work to put to put out a book. How could I publish another?
And yet, even after I got my next job, I started writing again. Little stuff, short stories, and then one short story caught my husband’s eye, and he demanded more. I fought him, I didn’t want to do it. The truth was I didn’t know how to handle this much support. Even working with Allie, I wasn’t certain I was in it for the long haul.
During this phase of fence-sitting, I sent my second novel to an editor friend of mine, and she told me that what I’d written was barely salvageable. I was infuriated! I was angry! I thought, “I’ll show her!”
It turns out she was right, but I had written and re-written the second novel more than thirteen times between 2009 and 2012. I tried and tried to craft it into something amazing. It didn’t work. What I learned while doing this exercise was a ton about writing, and when I started in on my science fiction identity theft story, I had improved my craft and figured out about beta readers and developmental editors and the important things that make a book good.
Through writer’s groups and industry articles and networking and the hours of grinding out stories, both Allie and I have learned a staggering amount about how this industry works. There’s always more to learn, but when I’m learning, it feels like something I already knew, and am confirming. It’s easy for me in ways that other things aren’t. Despite juggling my time with my now seven-year-old son, despite managing the panic of a loss of income, despite everything, I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I feel as though this is what I was meant to do, and now is the time to be doing it.
Maybe that’s the paradigm shift. Maybe we’ve come to a point in our technology that we can start spending time doing what we love, rather than what we have to. Maybe money isn’t the greatest judge of value anymore. Maybe the imagination is where we’ll have to go to figure out a new way for human culture to develop.
Or maybe I’m just a science-fiction writer who believes in a better world, now more than ever.
In 2009, I wrote two books. The Corsican, which was published, and an urban fantasy called Best Served Cold. The Corsican flew from my fingers, and when I finished it I was quite pleased. BSC, on the other hand, was a tortuous journey of self-discovery as to how optimistic I was at thinking I was a writer.
I rewrote BSC several times. It had different titles, and several main elements changed during the course of those rewrites. Finally, finally I felt I had succeeded in getting something that was workable. I eagerly sent it to my friend, who scanned the first 10 pages and then replied, “This is barely salvageable.”
To a brand new author, full of pride at her success with her first book, this wasn’t a slap to the face; it was a roundhouse punch to the stomach. On the other hand, when the confusion cleared, I realized that I had a lot to learn in my chosen profession. My friend’s words spurred me on to greater heights of effort, to turn my book into a winner.
I went so far as to hire an editor. This was another learning curve that I was in no way prepared for, but that’s another story. This editor did her best, but there was nothing that could be done. Thirteen rewrites total, 10 before the edits. I learned a lot about improving my work, but I never pulled that manuscript together.
This would have been an excellent time to give up. It seemed as though my friend was wrong. BSC wasn’t barely salvageable, it was wholly unsalvageable. I had wasted time, I had wasted energy, I had failed.
Except that I hadn’t. Realizing that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was helped me learn how to write better books. It’s tempting to huff the polite compliments writers tend to receive from their well-meaning loved ones, but too much of that can falsely inflate an ego and dull the critical edge you need to be an artist. My friend was smart enough to know that, and brave enough to brace for impact when she loosed her opinions upon my unsuspecting mind. I was too stunned to say much when I read her words, to say the least, but her phrase caught in my mind. It’s a token that while praise is lovely, honest feedback is the best tool a writer can receive.
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Allison here. So I was here through a lot of this. I helped with edits on The Corsican, and I even worked on a piece of artwork for Best Served Cold. We had toyed with the idea of teaming up to work on writing and publishing our fiction, and had even made an arrangement with a mutual friend of ours to start a small company dedicated to independent publishing.
Unfortunately, the further we progressed after the release of The Corsican, the more apparent it became that we had different priorities than our third partner. Eventually, these differences became insurmountable, and we had to go our separate ways.
Tina and I never really gave up, though. We harbored the dream, talking about it in private or in hushed voices, as though exposure to the unblinking eye of external scrutiny would cause our dream to vanish in a puff of dust. We planned, we schemed, and we dreamed. Slowly, this thing began to take shape; plans coalesced, agreements were made, and expectations were revised again and again. We never lost that starry-eyed state. Tina said to me one day, “if we try that again, I have the perfect name. Barely Salvageable.”
And it is the perfect name. We understand that writing does not spring fully formed from the skulls of geniuses, like Athena from the head of Zeus. We understand that to create takes work and time, and that sometimes it’s painful. We understand that in the end, all good rough drafts are barely salvageable, and we also know that this fact is no reason to give up.
The name became a kind of secret magic word, and incantation that we could use to inspire one another. It was a talisman against the myriad disappointments that the world had to offer us. In the intervening five years, Tina and I threw ourselves into our writing. We learned about building communities. We collected like-minded writers in situations similar to ours, we set up writers’ groups and a beloved critique group which we dubbed, with a knowing smile, Barely Salvageable.
Now, with each of us having a book on the cusp of publication, we’re finally ready to make Barely Salvageable a reality. We have big ideas, and big hopes. And we’re glad that we have the opportunity to share this grand adventure with you.