17 June 2009 - 9:46The Self-funded Fellowship Update

I was at last able to decompress to the point where I was able to get some coherent thinking in, and I realized what I desperately wanted to do with my time this summer was write fiction.

One of the reasons I had stopped writing fiction was because the market dried up. That is, lots of books were being published, but the brick and mortar bookstores were still calling the shots and they basically treated the mid-list as canon fodder.  (The midlist, for those of you who don’t know, was the bread and butter of the industry - things like genre and mystery series that had a smaller audience than the best sellers, but it was an incredibly LOYAL audience and therefore pretty much guaranteed a steady income to publishers and writers.)

The big bookstores took to churning the midlist.  If an author didn’t make it to a best seller status after two or three books, they stopped carrying the author.  Many people had to keep their careers going by changing their name every three books.

But people were working their asses off for almost no pay.  And then they’d be blacklisted.  I knew Amazon and other online retailers and publishers would be the savior in all this but it just wasn’t happening ten years ago.

But now it IS happening.  Now that Amazon offers used books, every book can still have an audience, authors can keep their careers alive.  And the market for online reading is growing, as people switch to reading from their computers, netbooks, Kindles, iPhones and other handheld devices.

John August has experimentally published a short story online as a mini-ebook.  He seems to be having great success - certainly much greater return than you’d get for most entertaining genre short stories these days.  And as it happened, I had planned in August, at the end of my fellowship, to set up a website for my cozy mystery western series - publish reprints and new short fiction.

Some how that whole August thing seems like kismet.  Stay tuned….

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