My Chosen Path to Publishing

Logic told me that if I could not find stories I would enjoy reading produced by traditionally publishers then I would need to stop reading, or look elsewhere, or write my own.

That was the first conscious step I took on my journey to becoming a professional writer.

I finished my first novel. It was not very good. I then learnt to edit, and improved the story, but it was still not very good. I took classes and improved. I wrote another story, and edited it. And improved. I wrote a third. It was much better. I published it. And repeated the process, again and again.

Now I am building a backlist, and have them available for readers to find.

And as I improve, I learn more and more of the business side of writing. I am trying to  understand what readers in USA like compared to readers in Europe and Australia. I now recognise the negative and positive comments from both readers and other writers and quickly move on without commenting.

I now understand what to do and not do, what to waste time on and what not to waste time on, while I produce better stories.

I now understand there are many paths to publication. Some paths have gatekeepers blocking entry and some paths ignore gatekeepers, allowing the readers to decide on what they want to purchase.

So here is my tongue-in-cheek list of rules I heard over the years on how to publish both paper and digital books.

Disclaimer: I am a fiction writer and wrote the following rules from what I have observed over the past seven years. At no time am I blaspheming against higher deities of any human or alien faith.

The gospel according to Traditional authors

Thou will not worry about the business side of publishing

Thou will remove all adverbs and adjectives from thou product

Thou will not worry about how much it costs to produce the end product

Thou will not worry about those who blaspheme against the high sale price

Thou will accept a low percentage from sales

Thou will not write in any genre the gatekeepers are not familiar with

Thou will not write more than one story a year

Thou will spend months rewriting editor suggestions until the life is removed from the story

Thou will not need to know who are thou readers because the gatekeepers know

Thou can obtain a day job to cover living expenses

Thou will bow to the rules of the only true way to publication


The gospel according to Indie authors

Thou will not pay others to manage the business side of publishing

Thou will quickly produce each story and publish

Thou will shout at those who blaspheme against low costs to produce the product

Thou will shout at those who blaspheme against high percentage take from sales

Thou will worry about low sales and spend time marketing

Thou will not write in any genre that does not have a market

Thou will try to write more than one story a year

Thou will spend months discussing marketing with other authors

Thou will need to build a reader list

Thou can obtain a part time job to cover living expenses

Thou will know that the new path is the only true way to publication


The gospel according to Professional writers

Thou will learn the business side of publishing

Thou will write the best story thou can at this time

Thou will get first readers to find mistakes in spelling or logic

Thou will either send to traditional publishers or Indie publish

Thou will respect all writers, no matter which path each writer follows

Thou will price each story on length

Thou will ignore low sales and spend time writing more stories

Thou will write what thou love and let the readers decide if the genre has a market

Thou will produce more quality stories to build a backlist

Thou will learn from studying professional writers and continue to improve

Thou will earn a good income over time from producing many good stories

All my publishing decisions led me to follow the path of professional writers.

I have also decided to stop reading blogs of anyone who is not a professional writer. Why? Because I need to spend more time writing and learning and less time shaking my head at some of the senseless comments by people who, in my opinion, only have a little knowledge. Remember the old adage: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Whatever path you decide to follow will in no way change my decision. I will only wish you good luck with your choice.

Can you admit (privately to yourself) that in the past you too thought the same way as some of the above points?

I guess I need to list some of the professional writers I follow.

Holly Lisle

Dean Wesley Smith

Kristine Kathryn Rusch 

Michael A Stackpole

Feel free to suggest other good professional writer blogs or comment on any rules I may have missed.


3 comments so far

  1. Angela/Curiocat on

    What a great list of rules. I love how you’ve broken them up into the three groups and managed to hit the nail on the head in all three of them. The professional list appeals to me the most and I think you’ve described a professional writer perfectly.

    You know how ambivalent I am about the publishing industry whether it is traditional or indie publishing. The whole controversy bemuses me. Who cares? As long as a great story is written, does it really matter how it gets to the customer who wants to read it as long as it does?

    Shrug. As a reader it does not as long as I can find it.

    Did I tell you I got to hear Michael Stackpole speak and meet him? He is a very funny man and I enjoyed listening to him. Do you know if his site is bug free now? I kept getting a warning message there for a while. I hope I’ll be taking a class he’ll be doing in August, we need to talk. Lol.

    • D J Mills on

      Thanks! 🙂 I had fun working out the different paths to publication. It was all the online arguments about which way is the “One True Way” to publish that caused me to look at the different versions of publishing now available. I still shake my head over the one about removing all adverbs and make the verbs stronger to improve the story.

      I have no problem viewing Michael Stackpole’s blog. I also agree with his suggestion of creating your own online shop, but I will not attempt that until I have more stories for sale. I checked out his last three covers and wonder who did them. The style is like the old pulp fiction covers. Nice. 🙂

  2. […] I want to point to the excellent blog about self publishing versus traditional publishing my friend Diane wrote. She does a good job of […]

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