Writing styles: Is technology changing the way we write?

As a writer-in-residence my teaching program occasionally goes by the wayside in lieu of far more interesting and often enlightening (for me) discussions about writing. Today was one such day. Students in a year eight (13-14 y/o) group asked me if I had read Playing Beatie Bow. I had. When I was young. Very young.

“That explains a lot,” they said, rolling their eyes.

I was intrigued. They were astounded that the book was “that old.” Ahem, actually it’s not ‘that old’ - it was published in the 80s. (I did a double take when I counted back and realised 30 years had passed. Okay fine, so it’s a bit old.)

As it turned out, the students wanted me to give them a synopsis of the book before their next English class. Curious, I asked why. Turns out none of them had actually read the book despite it being on their study list.

I’d loved the book when I’d read it ‘all that time ago’ so I wondered what the issue was.

“It’s boring… nothing happens…too slow… too hard to get into… can’t understand the speech…”

A similar thing had happened the term before when I’d been working with an advanced year 6 class (11-12 y/o), they couldn’t get into it either. It became counter-productive to persevere and the book had to be dropped for a more contemporary tome.

Playing Beatie Bow is a classic. Well, it was… in its time…

So what has changed? Story content? Writing style? Reading habits? Kids?  I’d hazard a guess and suggest that it’s all of the above. But I think the greatest change has been technology. Technology is changing the way kids read.

Once upon a time, kids would sit down and read a book in a linear fashion—that is, left to right, cover to cover. The structural rhythm of dialectal narrative would masterfully draw the reader into a magical linguistic journey. The writer meticulously created a scaffold from which the reader would leap into an abyss of subjective imagination to interpret and create the imagery they’d constructed using words—just words.

But the technological revolution has brought with it instantaneous injections of prefabricated information at the touch of a finger. Images, animations, music, movies, news and advertisements bombard the consumer every time they turn on the computer--which for the typical teenager, is several times a day. Young people have become accustomed to having the world at their fingertips, anytime of the day or night. They consume information, including narrative, in a variety of formats but in shorter and shorter bursts. This, in turn, has (anecdotally) led to a reduction in the capacity of a young reader to concentrate for longer periods of time. And there’s little wonder when we consider Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, wikis and the myriad of other social media modes that dominate young people’s time and space.

Social media, smartphones, tablets and eReaders mean that it is no longer necessary to rely on one’s ability to extend the imagination beyond what is before them. The interpretation of imagery becomes redundant when it’s all laid out for you. As a result, the traditional linear method of narrative consumption is being challenged. I’m not suggesting it doesn't happen; it just happens differently. Conversation and interaction have become an integral part of consuming narrative.

So what does this mean for writers? We know that the marketing of books is currently in the process of great change.

Nowadays, a book needs to have a social media presence to have a chance of being noticed. Once upon a time a reader would go to a bookshop and browse using titles or spine art to prompt pulling a book off the shelf for the purpose of examining its cover and/or reading the blurb. Now it seems it’s the books with engaging trailers using enticing images and seductive music that are drawing readers in.

And while word of mouth always has, and will continue to be, the most powerful means of book promotion, these days word of mouth promotion happens via social media.

But how do these changes affect the way in which writers create narrative? Does it make a difference? Are the students who boycott books like Playing Beatie Bow communicating more than just discontentedness with dated material? I think so. Playing Beatie Bow is a very well written story about a girl transported from her time (the 80s) back to early settlement days some hundred years prior. In terms of content, the story is a classic time traveller tale, most of which is set in 1870s Sydney. The endurance of this type of narrative is indicative in titles such as Hunger Games (future) by Suzanne Collins and Ancient Future (past) by Traci Harding, among many others of note. And it’s not necessarily that narrative set in the past is passé for young adults either, Henderson's Boys (past - WW2) by Robert Muchamore remains very popular among young adults.

So then, what is it? Well, Collins and Muchamore both have author websites where we can find out more about them as writers; but they also both have engaging interactive websites for their books where readers can have a conversation, watch excerpts, sign up for membership, play games and perhaps effectively even influence the plot of future instalments. Readers become a part of the narrative in ways never dreamed of by authors as little as five years ago.

This means that readers can jump around the narrative as they choose. Watch a bit here, read a bit there, blog or tweet or chat, as well as interact and play a bit with other readers—sometimes all without even picking up a paperback or eReader.

Cover to cover, linear reading does not appeal to everyone, but I don’t necessarily think this technological change is a bad thing. It means a higher probability of engaging non-readers in narrative consumption than traditional reading does. And if a young reader engages with text—in whatever format—that can only be a good thing.

But I digress. Back to what it means for us authors - the creators of narrative, and the way in which we write.

To survive and thrive in a changing environment, we must be prepared to adapt our practise and our writing style. Fast-paced, action-based is what appeals most to young people (whether that action is physical, transformational, emotional, or relationship based). I’m not sure that we have the luxury of writing long dreamy sentences thick with superlatives that ebb and flow and create the scaffolding of projection or supposition. Young readers want it straight up. And if they can’t get it straight up, they’ll switch modes until they can.

Generally speaking.

A contract lost

I lost a publishing contract. The offer of a contract to publish my novel Fake Profile with a traditional publisher was withdrawn. Before it was made. I didn’t even know about it, but I was gutted when I found out. At least, I was until I realised that I was no worse off than if I hadn’t known about it. And really, I can’t be sure I would have accepted the offer of a contract if it had been made.

The contract offer was NOT made,  apparently, because I hold the Digital Management Rights to my own book. Recently the Sydney Morning Herald, the Melbourne Age, and the West Australian, all ran an article about authors who were pursuing publication through electronic means as an alternative to seeking traditional publishing deals. I was featured in the article as an Australian Author who had opted to publish electronically.

The eBook cover for Fake Profile featured prominently in the article and sales have been steadily increasing ever since. Fake Profile is listed on Amazon and is distributed through Smashwords to Apple iBooks on iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Diesel and Kobo. Most of my sales come through Apple AU, followed by Amazon. I’m happy with the way sales are going. I didn’t expect them to be too high in the first months, particularly as I don’t have a publicist and haven’t yet gone into full promotion mode. But I have been pleasantly surprised with sales so far. And I’m very much looking forward to listing my next book in January.

When I began the journey toward publication, I would have loved a traditional publishing contract. And I tried to get one. I queried agents and submitted to those Australian publishers that still accept unsolicited manuscripts, all to no avail. I even pitched the book to a panel of publishers at a NSW Writers’ Centre writers’ festival. By that time I had my author website and blog up and running, I had a Facebook fanpage as an author and a Twitter account. And the beginnings of a marketing plan. Following the pitching session, I received some fabulous feedback, except from the publisher — her response was “If you’ve done all that, what’s left for the publisher to do?” Indeed.

It was then that I decided to pursue the electronic publishing route. However, it seems it was a publisher who was at that festival and had heard my pitch, who intended offering me a contract. Until the article was published.  The article referred to reasonably strong sales and an increasing profile. Seems the publisher was spooked by the fact that my book was already out there, with a variety of retailers in a variety of locations. And its Digital Rights Management (DRM) remained with me.

I’d not really thought too much about DRM when I published Fake Profile. It’s my book, why wouldn’t they stay with me. But apparently, DRM is a sticking point with traditional publishers. They want exclusive rights—total control—over your book. It means that they would get to say where the eBook is listed for sale and how your royalties are paid, (50% net seems to be shaping up as the norm for eBooks, though there are some publishers that are still vying for much more than this in contracts offered to authors). And you couldn’t sell your own book from your own website. Seems a little counter-productive to me.

A non-exclusive DRM contract would be far more reasonable, and I think, acceptable to authors. I want to have some control over my books. If only so that I could continue to promote them and sell them from my website (once I get my eShop up and running).

I’ve written before about the need for publishers to adapt their practise in this changing environment, or risk losing relevance. The news that I lost a contract because I decided to publish electronically was hard to take at first, but I’ve since realised that it is indicative of the turmoil in which the industry finds itself.

Authors are no longer reliant on publishers. We are not restricted to the Australian marketplace; we can choose who sells our books, we can experiment with price, and we can earn between 35% and 60% royalties. And if we want to see our books in hardcopy, Print-on-demand is free and easy and accessible to everyone.

If I’d been offered a traditional publishing contract for Fake Profile in the first instance, I would’ve jumped at the chance to be published in hardcopy. Would I have the same enthusiasm for a traditional contract now? I don’t know. Maybe. But I’m pretty happy with things as they are. My book Fake Profile is selling well; my new one, Say Nothing, will be out soon, and I probably won’t waste time trying to pitch it to nervous publishers while it could already be earning me money online.

I’m not aiming to be a best-seller just yet. I’m happy having the time to write. I’m refining my craft, experimenting with the market, and enjoying my writer-in-residence job. And I’m very happy heading toward being a mid-lister while I do it.

Dodgy deals in a murky market

A few months ago, I posted my thoughts regarding the need for Literary Agents to reinvent themselves so that they may remain relevant in the context of a changing industry. Since then it seems that some ‘enterprising’ persons and/or organisations have done just this and developed a business model that looks to address increasing demand in ePublishing.

These emerging models seem quite profitable to the agents themselves, but (and it’s a very big BUT), to the financial detriment of the author. Ordinarily, agents charge a percentage of income earned by the authors they represent. They don’t charge fees to read submissions or to sign an author up. Typically, literary agents liaise with publishers on behalf of authors.  They take care of submissions, and negotiate contracts that are in the authors’ best interests. Basically, it’s the agent’s job to sell the author’s manuscript.

But that is not what this new mob of ‘literary agents’ are doing. It seems that some persons calling themselves agents are targeting authors in rather unscrupulous ways. They are charging huge (sometimes even exorbitant) upfront fees to represent authors, as well as claiming a portion of any royalties earned. And some are less than forthcoming in explaining the extent of the representation they’re offering.

Some agents do not even bother trying to get the author a publisher―for eBooks or paperbacks. They simply take on the role of distribution with the currently available eBook distributors. At best they might secure a contract with emerging ePublisher such as the new Penguin venture (discussed at length here).

Not cool!

Once you have parted with your hard-earned cash, these contracts do not involve the promotion of your eBook, but leave you locked into a contract where you lose control of the rights, sometimes for years at a time.

There are legitimate businesses who will design your eBook cover and format your manuscript for the various eReaders available. And of course, you can always do your research and engage a reputable editor to go over your manuscript before you submit or self-publish.

I’m not suggesting that authors should avoid agents. I’m just saying authors need to be aware. Do your research. Know what you can do yourself and what you need help with. And if you are unsure about anything―ask!

While the publishing industry is undergoing the technological metamorphosis it's currently experiencing, I guess it's inevitable that the rapidity of change will leave many confused about how best to establish or maintain themselves, their work and their profiles as authors. When the dust settles a bit, it will be interesting to see what we're left with. But in the meantime, just be careful about signing any contract with anyone.

There are plenty of organisations that can advise. The Australian Society of Authors has written about this very issue. And there is a great website called Editors and Predators that monitors the behaviour of agents and publishers, and keeps tabs on other matters relating to publishing for writers.

The impending changes are exciting for authors. We just need to move through them with eyes wide open.

Adapt or die

The publishing industry is changing. Rapidly. Sales of eReaders are tripling every year, and competition between the available readers is stepping up. The impending sales battle between the new Kindle Fire and the Noble Nook Colour is attraction attention, meanwhile the price of eReaders―industry leaders as well as generic brands and android devices―has dropped significantly, making them accessible to a broader range of consumer.

Sales of tablets such as the iPad are increasing exponentially and are set to rival those of eReaders in the next few years. While the primary form of reading on the tablets at the moment is newspapers, I don’t think it will too long before we see a parallel increase in ebook sales.

This is good news for authors. Well, mostly. It’s good news for those authors who choose to publish their work themselves, electronically. Perhaps not so good news for authors who enter into publishing deals with mainstream publishers who write electronic rights into the contract, returning very little in royalties to the author. I recently learned of an author whose publisher threatened to sue for breach of contract because she had an anthology of short stories published as an eBook. Of course they had no basis for this because the anthology was published before she signed the contract. They terminated her contract instead.

I recently wrote about the need for literary agents to adapt their practice in order to survive the changing nature of the publishing environment, but the rapidity with which change is happening means publishers also need to be very wary. As in, adapt or die. When I published my novel Fake Profile as an eBook, I earned more in royalties in the first few months than a colleague published by a mainstream publisher did in his first year. It wasn't because I sold more copies, I didn’t. It was because I received a much bigger slice of the royalty pie.

It’s food for thought.

Reviling reviews

I’m reviewing books at the moment. It’s a challenge. Not because I don’t know how write a review, but because before I even sit down to read the book, I have to figure out whether I am the best person to write it.

Those who know me personally will know that I am a fairly straightforward person. I say what I think. In fact, sometimes I only become aware of what I think when I hear the words coming out of my mouth. Writing at least provides me with a slight buffer between the thought occurring and me presenting it. I can consider the reviews I’ve written (at least I can now that I’ve learned not to review straight into the online forum, but rather write it out in Word, let it sit, then come back to it and post sometime over the following few days), before anyone else reads it.

When I first agreed to take on reviewing books, it did not occur to me that I would be required to engage in a degree of ‘reading between the lines’, or have to navigate the myriad of motivations behind the author's request.

I thought, as some might, that having a book reviewed meant receiving honest (albeit subjective) feedback on technical aspects of the writing, as well as character development, plot, narrative flow, and if necessary, grammar and structure.

Reviews serve a dual purpose. They can offer constructive criticisms that give the author an opportunity to develop the work and build on their writing skills, particularly early in their writing career; and they provide prospective readers with an orientation to the work. No matter the experience level of the writer, reviews give an invaluable opportunity to continue to develop as a writer.

Reviewing, as with reading, is a very subjective thing. What one reviewer likes, another may hate. But one would assume that a reasonable reviewer is able to recognise a strong narrative and/or a quality piece of writing, even if the story line is not their cup of tea. One would also assume that authors seeking reviews do so with the expectation that the reviewer will be honest and give constructive (if not always diplomatic) feedback that the author may not necessarily like.

I guess it depends where you are on your writing journey as to what your understanding of the reviewing process is. Now I know I'm making a huge generalisation here, but my recent reviewing experience suggests that perhaps there exists a code of which I am not familiar.

When a writer says: “I’d love you to review my book ______. Could you publish your review on XXXX site when you can?”
They really mean: “I want you to hit 5 stars and write a few bland sentences saying what a fantastic book it is. Oh and you don’t have to spend time reading it. I just need the review.”

When they say: “I don’t need to study writing, I’m just a natural writer.”
They really mean: “Ignore the fact that the manuscript is riddled with grammatical and spelling errors and that the plot is unidentifiable or missing, I don’t care about that. My arrogance will carry the book and make me a motza.”

When they say: “Be as honest as you can.”
They really mean: “As long as you don’t say a critical word about it or it will crush my spirit and stop me from ever writing another word.”

But when they say: “What gives you the right to say my main character has no depth or substance? Who are you to tell me anything about my story? You don’t know anything about the character or story, you’re just the reader.”

… Um... okay… ? I'm just the reader? Well yes I am...

* Oh and if you'd like your book reviewed, don't ask me to do it if you are not prepared to receive honest constructive feedback. It's a waste of the many hours I put into reading and considering all aspects of the book. And I'm getting cranky. The crankier I get the less diplomatic I tend to become. Be warned.

eAuthoring pays

I got the first royalty cheque for my novel today. It’s very exciting. Well, it’s not exactly a cheque, and I don’t actually physically have it yet, but I know it’s coming. At least that’s what the sales report from Smashwords tells me.  I published Fake Profile as an eBook at the end of June and the sales report was for the month of July.

I made around $100, mostly from iBooks on iTunes. $100 doesn’t sound like much but considering that most first-time authors get between 7% and 10% of royalties from paperback sales (and often without an advance), I would have had to have sold one hundred copies of the paperback version to make as much. I didn’t. I sold 18 copies. Again, it doesn’t sound like many, but I didn’t do anything to promote the book either. I just uploaded it and let it sit while I sorted out how I would go about getting it out there.

I don’t know what the statistics of eBook sales in iTunes are, but I do know that Amazon holds a huge majority in the world of eBook sales for their Kindle. I’ve just listed Fake Profile on Amazon as well. It will be interesting to see what happens to sales  the month of October when I have my marketing plan in place.

My marketing strategy will be exclusively online as I continue to harness social media to promote my work. Lots have looked down their noses at me for choosing this path, as if it is a second-rate option. They’ve criticised me for snubbing mainstream publishing, especially here in Australia where eReaders don’t yet have the popularity that they do in America. They assume that by me giving up pursuing mainstream publication that I am acknowledging my writing may not be up to standard. They’re wrong about that, I know I’m a good writer; I have worked hard informally (by writing in different genres for years) and formally (writing course and a Masters of Creative Writing) on developing my writing skills for many years.  And I’ve won awards for it.

I’m ready for this, the time is right for me. The naysayers also tell me my impatience will be my downfall—and it might be, if my goal was to achieve fame and fortune from my writing. But it’s not. I don’t care much for fame and fortune. It’s not attention or accolades I want.  I just want to write.  Sure, one day I’d love to be able to support myself just by writing fiction, but in the meantime, I’m very happy supplementing my income by teaching writing to young people. And playing with social media to see where it leads me.

Many writers (particularly in the States), make a comfortable living out of writing for the eBook market and with technology dissolving globally barriers, there’s no reason an Australian couldn’t do the same. You see, I’m at my best when I’m writing, regardless of what I am writing. I’m more motivated (inspite of the procrastination that is the bane of all writers’ existence) and healthier and happier when I’m writing.

I love the solitude that writing affords me, I love being able to set my own writing agenda. And I love that my writing is portable, I can take it to the park, to the library, to a cafe. I can write where and when I like. But most of all, I really love getting emails through my website from people who have read and enjoyed my books. Just love it!

I’m happy with the path I’ve chosen, and I have a good feeling about my writing future.

Facing the Dementors

For the uninitiated, Dementors are those ghastly demons who suck all the happiness out of you. They thrive on negativity and relentlessly instill unspeakable doubt in those upon whom they prey. They can impose the 'kiss of death' and suck the soul and very life out of their victims, leaving nothing but a zombie where once lived hope and passion and happiness. Dementors are, of course, the creation of Author JK Rowling for her Harry Potter series.

I refer to them here because I think there exists within the writing community a pack of Dementor-like creatures who prowl cyberspace looking for victims. You might recognise them if you have had a book published electronically. They the ones who target specific authors in specific genres and zoom in multiples times to slam the author’s ratings. They conduct campaigns to rate the book with one star, often offering no comments to back it up.

Reading and writing are very subjective things. What one person enjoys, another detests. It’s the same with any creative pursuit. People’s tastes and preferences vary hugely.
And to reflect this there is a great variety of work out there, as expected. But not all of it is as polished as it might be. I’d have no problem if when rating a book the reviewer offers constructive criticism. But the Dementors to which I am referring are not targeting the books they feel do not belong online. They offer no such criticism, if they review at all it mostly has nothing to do with the quality of the writing or the content of the book. It’s personal, and it’s nasty.

When people browse books online, they generally go for the highest rated or most downloaded. And it’s here to which the Dementors zoom. They band together to ‘mass rate’ with one star, thereby dragging down the book’s overall position―probably to improve the position of their own books which may be in direct competition to the targeted book.

Why? The best I can come up with is this issue of competition. And jealousy. Awful, huh? Many authors don’t have big publicity budgets behind them so rely on their own capacities to promote their work. And they work incredibly hard over long periods of times to create and distribute their work. As anyone who has ever written a book knows, an author is not made overnight. And despite rejection after rejection and suggestions to ‘get a real job,’ and general negativity ―often self-imposed― they persevere. That there are people who in the writing community who think the only way to succeed is to destroy someone else’s dream, is just miserable.

There are eBook distributors popping up across the cyber world as the popularity of ePublishing increases. Some are more vigilant than others at noticing the occurrence of this unethical and destructive practice. Smashwords recently deleted the accounts of those identified as participating in the practice and rectified the ratings. Other distributors are not so proactive. Authors need to be vigilant and notify their publisher and/or distributor if they become aware of the practice. Not just for their books, but for their writer colleagues as well.

What about literary agents?

What role will the literary agent play in the New World of publishing? I wonder if they've given much thought to how they may need to adapt their roles, or whether their roles may even become redundant.

Incomes of literary agents are attached to the income of the author, usually around 15% of author royalties. The success of the author (and the amount of money they earn) can be enhanced by effective representation from the agent but traditionally has been determined by the capacity of the publisher to promote the author’s work. Of course, the bigger the publishing house, the greater the resources they're able to throw behind book promotion and the safer it is for them to take a risk on an unknown or previously unpublished author. Still, many first time authors get their first break with the smaller publishers.

This is all how it traditionally happens. But will this way of working in the industry remain profitable, or even relevant through the next few years? I have a feeling that in as little as five years time we will be looking at a very different industry. Where publishers once controlled access to the printing and distribution of books, technology is now such that everyone has access to methods of getting their work out there.

Distributors such as Smashwords and Amazon, make it almost easy for indie authors to create and distribute their work. And social media puts promoting books within reach of every author. With royalties of between 35% and 70% on offer, compared to the traditional 5% to 10%, ePublishing makes it an extremely attractive option for authors.

We’ve seen the demise of book sellers, we’ve heard the rumours about traditional publishers being in trouble, especially the small ones―particularly if they can’t adapt. But what of agents? Is there a role for them in the eBook and ePublishing context?

Perhaps. But they too, will have to adapt their practice. As with traditional publishers, I think the survival of the literary agent will depend on their capacity to redefine the role they play. Maybe it becomes about sourcing graphic designers for the eBook covers, the social media campaign and online launch, the book trailer that is becoming a necessary promotional tool. Maybe the the role of the publicist will merge with that of the agent, maybe it's a necessary  metamorphosis. I don't know. But 15% of net royalties from authors ePublishing (offering 30% - 70%) with no advance has to better than 15% of royalties from traditional publishers (offering 5% - 10%) with little or no advance.

What do you think?

New media book marketing

The publishing world is changing―there is no doubt about that. Borders going belly up took with it 30% of the book selling market, spelling disaster for emerging authors yet to break into the market. The game is changing. Publishers are fighting for their lives, and don’t want to take risks.

Being an author is increasingly about more than just writing the manuscript. It is about building a platform for your brand. Those of us published in the new market ― the eBook market ― are responsible for the marketing of our books. This means being prepared to embrace Social Media like we have never had to before.

Facebook fan pages and Twitter accounts, and using them properly, are a good way to start, but are they enough? Book trailers are featuring more often on author blogs across the globe and I thought I’d try it here.

This is the new trailer for my novel Fake Profile. Have a look and see what you think; I’d love to hear from you!


A Risk Worth Taking?

I wrote my last post as a stream of consciousness about ePublishing following a Writer’s Festival I attended. The festival at the NSW Writers Centre was great, but the subtle conversational subtext between authors and publishers, as well as the open discussions between proponents of the ‘New World’ of publishing and traditional publishing set me a-thinking even further.

I dived into the blogosphere and read and surfed and read. What I found was enlightening. The negativity out there surrounding ePublishing mostly seems to come from Traditional Publishers - not so surprising given they’re the ones set to lose.

I also found some very interesting points of view about the negative perceptions of people who self-publish, and why they may exist. John Locke, who has recently reached his one millionth eBook sale, and is on the NYT best seller list, gives his analysis of the reasons for the negativity as being a matter of survival for the publishers. After all, it is in their best interests that those who dare to promote their own work be thought of as 'less than' credible. And Robin Sullivan writing for the blog Publishing Perspectives, talks about the new ‘mid-listers’ who are successfully forging a full-time career out of writing and publishing their own eBooks. It's a changing world out there.

Sure, it’s a risk. I am a published writer, but now I want to write fiction. I want to be a novelist. And I want to be able to do it full-time. The questions I have to ask myself are, am I ready to walk away from submitting to traditional publishers? Am I willing to take the risk and publish as an eBook?

I've already had some success by being awarded an Australian Society of Authors Mentorship for my novel, Fake Profile. And I had the wonderful experience of having iconic Australian Author Hazel Edwards as a very supportive and encouraging mentor.

My book is ready to go. I have the marketing plan in place, I’m pretty sure there’s a niche market for this type of novel, but I just can’t get a publisher interested. So…

I took the plunge! I used Smashwords as my distributor and listed it as an eBook in iBooks on the Apple iTunes site, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Diesel, Kobo and Scrollmotion.

I’ve already had enough sales to warrant sorting out my U.S. IRS forms, but more importantly, I’ve started getting positive feedback via random reviewers on Smashwords as well as the Barnes & Noble and iTunes sites!

It’s all looking very good so far, but time will tell. At 60% royalties with Smashwords as my distributor, and consistent online marketing, who knows where it will all lead. But what I do know, is that I am no longer waiting and wondering and stressing about traditional publishers. I am in control of my own destiny.

And it feels great!