The Publishing Cycle

Last week I wrote a little piece over on the TI blog about the sad news regarding Less Than Three Press. The loss of this publisher has been felt deeply by myself, and many of my friends.

LT3 filled an important role in romance publishing. They actively supported marginalized voices, and treated their writers well. It was wonderful to have a mid sized publisher like them around, especially for new and emerging writers.

I have one title with LT3. It’s old enough now that I’m not entirely sure that I’ll re-release it. I haven’t decided. I photographed my own cover for the novella, so I’d still have that! The perfectionist in me wants to go back over the story and polish things up. I feel so much more confident about my writing these days, and I’m sure the piece could use some work.

At least two other authors I know have opted to not re-release their work that was with LT3, primarily for the same reason. They’re older works and perhaps not as reflective of their author’s current work. I get it.

There are a few uncomfortable realities that go along with this. The first is that as of now, both publishers I’ve worked with have closed. It’s a worrying pattern within small and mid range publishers. What will we have when none of these can survive? Will it only be the big publishers and self pub, with nothing in between? That’s quite worrisome.

The other is simply that it reminds me how long its been since I’ve published anything. It’s been years. I’m not a fan. I’ve spoken with a few friends and my current goal is to have another novel finished by the end of the year so I can start shopping it around to publishers.

I don’t know what I’m doing here

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ‘careers’ and identity. We’ve all been told for most of our lives that work and identity are essentially synonyms. It’s evident in how we talk about careers. We ask children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Which is very different from, “What kind of work would you like to do?”

For most of my life, I didn’t think I attached much of my identity to my job. After all, it was just a job. I worked hard, did excellent work, and remained employed, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t who I was as a person, it was just what I did.

Now that I can’t do it anymore, I’ve realized how wrong I was.

I took pride in my work. The quality of it, the hours I would devote to getting things done right, I wanted respect and acknowledgement from my peers. As the industry changed, I changed along with it. I had to adjust to new metrics of success, and I worked at them until I achieved them.

I never got the things I really wanted. I think I became bogged down in being a productive drone. After all, that used to be a respectable quality. I thought service and devotion to an industry would get me there.

It didn’t.

Now I have to change my paradigm again, and find myself without any sort of map.

People ask professional athletes and others who aim high, about their backup plans. We need to start thinking about those things for everyone. No matter what kind of work you do, regardless of industry.

We’re presented with a narrative about automation replacing human workers in production jobs, but that’s not the only place that happens. As I was explaining to someone exactly what I used to do ten years ago, I realized I had been replaced by a combination of a machine, apathy, and transferring the burden of quality on to the customer. Over the years I’ve worked in the arts, several jobs I’ve had have been replaced by machines.

My body is failing me. I know, it happens to all of us. For me, it has happened at an intense speed, in ways I never could have imagined, and targeting things that are most important to me.

I don’t know what I ‘do’ anymore, which has left me questioning who I am. This isn’t another instance of technology or priorities changing how I approach the industry within which I work, it’s starting over. I don’t have a backup plan, I didn’t think I needed one.

It’s slow

Sometimes it’s slow. Right now, it’s slow. It’s hard to be okay with things not going how we want.

I have so many projects I’m excited about, but I can’t seem to get them together. It’s a struggle.

I suppose all there is to do is keep pushing forward.

Or not