Writers in search of a plan…


The Pen Warriors have been getting together every three months for a two day retreat at the Red Door for over ten years now. These retreats are important to us; we eat (rather well because of our resident foodie, Laura Tobias), we brainstorm plots, dream up book titles, work on craft issues, critique, discuss the various genres, and test out new story ideas.  All this is creative work that is super productive for all of us—and crazy fun. 🙂

But this pre-Christmas retreat was different. This time we decided to tax our brains and figure out what the hey is going on in publishing these days; growing ebook sales, declining print sales, bookstore closings, opaque contracts, lowered advances (if any), billion dollar publishing house mergers and acquisitions.

Serious issues there. Big thoughts required.

Business to get down to. So we got down…

Brows knit, we weighed and analysed our publishing options: print publishers, small press, digital publishers, our local Staples, Aunt Bertha’s mimeograph machine, or that elephant in the writer’s garret, DIY—self-publishing. The underlying dilemma being, what’s the best way/format to reach readers who might enjoy our books and be willing to buy our work?

This analysis took about fifteen minutes at which point our neurons fizzled out, so we refocused on the subject of social media—the second elephant in the writer’s garret. (You have no idea of the cleanup!) The unknown, all-knowing “THEY” say Social Media is critical. Gotta have a platform, be connected via Facebook, Twitter, Mugshots, Google, Buy-my-book.com, or whatever.  We became confused—which happens easily, I’m afraid. Still we persevered, asked ourselves; if we upped our promo efforts (maybe to 26 hours a day) would we improve the chances our tiny gold nuggets of literature would be found in what is now a vast seabed of stones, lead, and silver? (Okay, that’s hyperbole, but as writers we either believe we write gold or turn in our writer badges.)

This analysis of social media precipitated our descent into the spirit world (aka wine) and led us to the most important question of all; what we wanted to do as writers going forward. On this there was consensus.  We want to write the best books and stories we possibly can, then use whatever publishing method is most effective to get those stories to readers.  In this weird and unsettling new publishing world, sans a Google map,  GPS, or even a backseat driver, our plan is simple: Stay Calm and Keep Writing.

P.S. This was our last Red Door writers’ retreat before Christmas so we also exchanged gifts and reworked the blog. If you’ve visited before you’ll notice our new template. We think it’s fresh and crisp and fits well with our attitude going forward.  Hope you like it.

EC Sheedy


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EC Sheedy writes romantic suspense, because she loves writing weird and nasty villains. She lives on Vancouver Island in the moody, green, and rain-washed Pacific Northwest. When she's seriously story challenged (too often in her opinion) she often walks the beach and communes with the stunning and multi-talented Mother Nature. (Make that begs for inspiration!) If that doesn’t work, a few minutes thinking about the quirks and foibles of human nature usually does. She loves reading, writing, her twin granddaughters, her Ridgeback, Zuke--and most of all her first and last husband, Tim. You can follow EC on Twitter, if that's something you tend to do. @EC_Sheedy Or you can check out her website and titles www.ecsheedy.com

4 Responses

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  1. Lea Tassie
    Lea Tassie at | | Reply

    Yes, I like your new website, though I liked the old one, too.

    I understand completely, being a writer myself, about the uproar in publishing. I have just spent six weeks studying the main aspects of social media. I *could* do it, I know *how* to do it, but am afraid that if I got into it, I’d never get any books written. All I can do is sympathize, since I’m aware of how overwhelming it is to realize just how many writers and books are out there, all clamoring to be noticed and how difficult it is to compete. A very upbeat voice on that subject is Joanna Penn. Check out her blog at TheCreativePenn.com. She has some free information and shares her own success at marketing.

  2. EC Sheedy
    EC Sheedy at | | Reply

    Joanna Penn is definitely a go-to source for all things writing. And I’m very glad you mentioned her name. She is always informed and upbeat–and those two attributes can often be mutually exclusive in today’s publishing climate. 🙂

    Seriously, I’m thinking of getting a tattoo on my forehead that says something like: Stop thinking and start writing!

    It’s crazy-making out there.

  3. Bonnie Edwards
    Bonnie Edwards at | | Reply

    I can change my mind faster than a stripper and her pasties on whether my next book should be submitted for the traditional route or if I want to publish it myself.

    All in all it *is* crazy-making. (not that I’m hard to make LOL)

  4. Vanessa Grant
    Vanessa Grant at | | Reply

    All the details of publishing – whether traditional or indie – can make this writer crazier than my young-at-heart 11-year old Australian Shepherd.

    What a great weekend we had. For 2013, I wish every creative person – and aren’t we all creative in our own way? – a few like-minded friends to celebrate and commiserate with!

    Here’s to focusing on the things that empower us, an finding efficient ways to tend to the necessary details of the necessary-but-troubling stuff in our lives.

Please comment with your real name using good manners.

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