by Laura Crum
After giving myself a couple of years of breathing space since turning out twelve mystery novels in my series featuring an equine vet, I’ve finally settled in to my new writing project. I felt pretty sure I was done with writing mysteries. I knew I wanted to write a memoir, but I wasn’t sure what the point would be. I didn’t want to waffle on about my memories, I wanted to target some unique aspect of life that I was fitted to convey. Uhmm, it took awhile to work this out.
In the meantime I wrote a brief memoir in a series of blog posts here on Equestrian Ink, about my life with horses. This piece of work ties into my mystery series and essentially gives the background from whence the books sprang—forty years of owning, training, competing and just sharing my life with horses. It was lots of fun to write and it will be up on Kindle shortly (as soon as I get the cover worked out) as a 99 cent special.
Since then, I read a book (The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman) that clarified for me the subjects that I really want to write about now. And that would be life, death, magic, old spirits and God. Not that I have the skill to write about these things. But I have the desire. I am quite sure that my memoir will fall far short of Neil Gaiman’s wonderful book, but that’s OK.
So I’ve begun, and I am really enjoying writing the book I want to write, constrained by no one’s concepts but my own. To tell the truth, I have grown quite tired of concocting a crime and then a plot that contains just enough excitement…etc. I am interested in writing the truth as I see it, whether or not it pleases anyone else.
One of my friends asked if I would try to sell this upcoming book. I laughed. Because one of the things I am done with is trying to sell a publisher on my work, and I’m also pretty sure that this book will not appeal to a publisher. It doesn’t fit any popular niche. But…
Because of Amazon and Kindle, I can put my memoir up myself, and because my backlist has a steadily growing readership, there are probably readers who will buy my new work. So yes, in a sense, I will sell my book.
I have heard of authors who deplore this new system, and I have to ask: What is it you don’t like? What is bad about getting a 70% royalty on every book sold? What is not to like about getting a check every month that pays for the groceries? I have never been anything other than a mid-list author, and I am still a mid-list author, but for the first time in my writing career, my books are bringing in a steady, useful income. What is bad about that?
In a past post I've discussed the fact that authors whose work was chosen for publication by traditional publishing, as my books were, tend to feel a bit chagrined when self published authors want to claim the same bragging rights. It is sort of as if you went through the years of vet school and finally hung out your shingle, only to find a self-proclaimed vet next door, one who had never gone to vet school at all. However the discussion that resulted from that post clarified for me the basic fact that yes, anyone can publish a book on Kindle and call themselves an author. But in the end what counts is whether one can sell books on Kindle. Self published or traditionally published isn’t the bottom line. Does anyone want to buy/read your books is the bottom line. In my example of the self proclaimed vet, what really counts in the end is whether or not he/she is a good and effective vet. And if the years show that she is, well then, the traditionally schooled vet, if she isn’t too defensive, will just have to admit that her self-proclaimed comrade in medicine is all right. Which is exactly how I feel about all the self-published authors out there. Hey, if you are good to read, more power to you. And if you are not, well, I think the sales record will make this clear in time. As for me, I am very grateful that sales of my books on Kindle have steadily continued to bring in useful money, and very happy to have a system that actually rewards authors for their work.
So yes, my memoir will eventually be for sale on Kindle, and I hope that some of the fans of my mystery series will buy this book. And if many of you wish I would return to writing mysteries, rather than memoirs, well, I understand. I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed my mysteries, and those of you who have reviewed them on Amazon have my deepest gratitude. Because these same fans have rated most of my backlist between four and five stars, and been a big help in increasing my grocery money every month.
So today I’d like to say thank you to every reader who has reviewed my books on Amazon. I really appreciate you. If, just by chance, you have enjoyed my mysteries and haven’t yet posted a review, all I can say is that these reviews on Amazon are terribly important to authors nowadays. Every single positive review is appreciated…and I think that this is true for every author out there. If you can find time in your busy day to post a review (and I know it’s a pesky sort of chore), you have my gratitude.
I know many of you who read this blog are authors yourselves, and I would be interested to hear if any of you, like me, have reached a point where you are determined to write the book you want to write, rather than fitting your writing into a niche. Though I do understand that fitting a niche is, by and large, how you can bring in the grocery money, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Any thoughts?