Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Traditionally Published and Nearing the End of Your Contract? Don't Sweat It.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

file0001193781245Happy New Year everyone!  Hope you all have a healthy, happy year.

Writing-wise, 2013 will be a different type of year for me.  I’d halfway forgotten this until I was speaking with my family over the Christmas holiday.

“What are you working on for 2013?” they asked.

“After my deadline on February 1, I’m on my own,” I told them. I said this with complete equanimity, but each time I said this (different groups of family), the other person was startled and appeared a little worried.

“You don’t have another contracted book after that?” they asked.

I don’t.

So I have a book coming out in 2014 with Penguin that I’m turning in at the end of this month and then I wait to see if one of my series will be extended.

My family also asked if I had ideas that I could pitch to my publisher.  And I do.  I actually even have an outline…or what passes for an outline for me—where I give the book premise, suspects, motives, victim, and killer.  I think it’s a pretty viable outline and will make for a good series. I like my other concept, too.

But….I think I might keep those pitches to myself.  I’m thinking about writing one of them later this year and putting it out, myself.

If I’m contacted about extending my two series with Penguin, I’ll be delighted to write them.  I love the characters and have enjoyed writing the series so far.

If I’m contacted about writing some new series, one that my publisher would like to have written, I’d be happy to write that, too.

But I think I’m keeping my current ideas to myself.

It will be an interesting year.  Last year, I wrote Knot as it Seams, Quilt Trip, and Rubbed Out for Penguin (Knot and Rubbed will come out this year, Quilt Trip next year) and  one Myrtle Clover book, Body in the Backyard, for myself.

This year, I'm polishing up Quilt Trip before turning it in Feb. 1...and then I'm on my own.  

My plan is to write just as many books this year, but they’ll all be self-published, unless I get a contract extension or a new project from my publisher.  One of my self-pub. projects will be a short non-fiction how-to on cozy mystery writing…good to try something new.

I’ve definitely got a different mindset than I did in 2009.  At the time, I wondered what would happen after I finished writing book 3 of the Memphis Barbeque series. I felt a tremendous sense of relief when my agent contacted me about writing a new series for Penguin.

Now I’m a lot more relaxed.  I know that I can do well self-publishing.  I know I’ve got a team of people to help me make sure my stories are ready to publish and look professional. I know I don’t have to have a contract with a publisher…I can have a contract directly with a retailer like Amazon or Smashwords or Barnes and Noble.

I'm not usually Little Miss Que Será, Será.  I'm usually a basket of nerves.  Which goes to show how radical this publishing shift has been over the last few years.

I’m enjoying this sense of freedom and lack of urgency.  Realizing things will work out either way…and simply keeping abreast to any industry changes or any new ideas about taking our writing into the future.

I remember thinking that getting a traditional publishing contract was like a politician winning an election—you celebrate for a day, then you start worrying about and working on the next campaign.  It’s wonderful that this is no longer the case in publishing.

But being relaxed doesn’t mean we don’t push ourselves.  We push ourselves to reach our goals, to tweak our stories, to learn about self-publishing, to decide how much promotion to do, to keep up with industry news and developments. We push ourselves to stay creative and consider writing new and different stories or even new and different genres.

What are your writing plans for the year? Have they changed at all in the last few years?

Photo by  nasirkhan from MorgueFile