New Voices of Experience Part III
The dream of many writers is a publishing contract. But as author S.L. Partington has discovered over the last ten years, in many ways it is only the beginning, and there are many ways to define success.
I’m Sharon Partington. I live in Alberta, Canada, and I’m a retired uber nerd who plays video games when I’m not writing. I wrote my first story when I was nine or ten – Star Trek fan fiction. In high school I wrote an S.E. Hinton-inspired short story, which my teacher read to the class (I was thrilled and mortified). A high school creative writing course taught me to write an appreciate poetry. Then came the first fantasy novel, hand-written almost 30 years ago. Finally, in 2007, a contract with a small press, for Hunter, a science-fiction thriller.
All the feelings that come with that contract: elation, trepidation, disbelief: I’ve done it! I’m going to be a published author! But publishers are in business, and business models change. My publisher decided to change from a multi-genre publisher to focus on romances, and Hunter didn’t fit. I requested my rights back, and they agreed. The contract didn’t specify that they had to, so one piece of advice I’d give new writers is make sure your contract covers rights revision to the author, in case of a change of publisher focus, or if it goes out of business.
Hunter then went to a second publisher, one my editor was working for at the time. That didn’t work out either, due to communication problems and creative differences. But what I learned was that I can do this writing thing: my stories, and my storytelling abilities are good enough. I’ve chosen to go indie at this point so I have absolute creative control over my books. I don’t have to worry about whether or not Vampires or Zombies or whatever are hot or trending. I can write my own stories and put them out there myself. There’s a huge amount of freedom in that.
Marketing has been an enormous challenge – mostly finding strategies that don’t cost a lot (I have a very limited budget) and actually produce results. I do have a Twitter presence, and I also have a Facebook author page, although the Facebook page doesn’t get much traffic. I also have an author website. I have tried the Amazon ads, but didn’t get a great result. Navigating the keywords is very much a mystery for me – finding ones that work can be daunting. There are resources to help with that – from Amazon itself, and from other authors – and I have looked at a few of them. It’s very true that it takes money to make money and that can be a real challenge when your budget is so limited. I don’t think my age has anything to do with it really – I do know how the internet works and readers don’t know how old I am, they just know whether or not I’ve managed to tell a good story.
Success for me has more to do with getting those stories out there as opposed to being on the best seller’s list. I write the stories that I want to read. That’s the main reason I chose to go the Indie route. I don’t have the patience (at the moment) to query traditional publishers and/or agents. That’s not to say it will never happen – just for now it’s not the way I want to go. There are lots of roads that lead to the same destination.
Hunter is the first of a series – there are 4 books planned. I also have a fantasy series in the works, but it’s still in the planning stage. Fantasy and science fiction have always been my genres of choice. Hunter began as a first line prompt that took on a life of its own. I write (and read) to escape reality for a while. Fantasy and scifi allow me to do that.