Thursday, September 22, 2011

Through the Looking Glass: Publishing Today by Lynda Hilburn, Guest Blogger

I do find some of the most interesting people to appear on my blog. Today's guest, Lynda Hilburn, has been "a rock-and-roll singer/musician, a typesetter/copy editor for various newspapers and magazines, a professional psychic/tarot reader, a licensed psychotherapist, a certified clinical hypnotherapist, a newspaper columnist, a university instructor, a workshop presenter and a fiction writer.

And The Vampire Shrink is about psychologist Kismet Knight and the dysfunctional vampires she meets in the course of her Denver practice. There are the bad ones, as you would expect, and then there's Devereaux...

To read about the rest of Lynda's novels, visit her website.


Through the Looking Glass: Publishing Today by Lynda Hilburn, Guest Blogger

Many thanks to Patricia for having me on her blog today!

“Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next.” – Lewis Carroll

I agree with those who say that nobody knows what’s going on with Publishing right now. “Reality” changes daily and as soon as we’re certain a trend is the “absolutely certain new direction,” it isn’t. Lots of people SAY they know. But they don’t.

Having said that, there are some folks – mostly authors who’ve stuck a toe into all the possible ponds – who can give educated guesses.

But, once again, nobody really knows. It’s easier to talk about publishing as we look in the rear view mirror, rather than gazing through the windshield (or the crystal ball).

It does seem to be the case, though, that it’s an exciting time to be an author.

My own publishing journey has been very strange, with many unexpected turns and twists. But compared to the alien landscape of today’s writing world, my story has become rather mundane.

I’ve been a non-fiction writer for a very long time. As a child and teenager, I wrote long, dramatic entries in various diaries and journals and eventually became quite adept at typing (on a manual typewriter) soulful, heart-wrenching letters to friends. (I’m a Leo. We do have a tendency toward the theatrical.) My academic and professional interests led me to create articles and training materials, in addition to writing newspaper columns. At one point, I had a weekly column in a couple of Boulder newspapers for 5 years (The Psychic Counselor). I was quite happy.

As a side note, I’ve been a vampire reader/fan since I first got my hands on Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a child (much to my mother’s horror). So, in 2003, when one of my hypnotherapy students noticed all the vampire books on my shelf and asked if I’d heard of a relatively new genre called “paranormal romance,” I had to investigate. This new-to-me genre knocked my socks off. Vampires as love/lust objects? Really? I already associated the dark nightwalkers with exotic sensuality, but actually having relationships with these bad boys? Sign me up!

So, needless to say, I read every book I could find and discovered there was actually a sub-genre called “vampire romance.” Be still my heart. As much as I loved Anne Rice’s Lestat, there wasn’t much heterosexual juice in that world.

I began to wonder if I might be able to write about vampires as fiction rather than non-fiction.

One day I was with a young client (I’m a psychotherapist) who talked about wanting to join a non-human group. As I listened to her words, I began to think about the similarities between her story and a few vampire books I’d read. I went home that night and started writing about a psychologist who finds a gorgeous vampire in her waiting room. The Vampire Shrink was born.

I sold that manuscript to a small publisher in 2007 and a second book in 2008. We then parted ways and I put the books up on Amazon and myself in 2010. To my surprise and delight, they became best sellers.

In late 2009 and early 2010 self-pubbing really took off. Many people were doing very well, financially, from putting up their books themselves. Paranormals/vampires were especially successful. I couldn’t believe my stroke of luck at having followed JA Konrath’s advice to self-publish.

Since the books were best sellers, I was contacted by a new agent (my original agent and I had parted ways in 2008), who was able to get me an interesting 3-book deal. My first novel, The Vampire Shrink, and two more in the series would be jointly published in the UK by Quercus/Jo Fletcher Books and in the USA by Sterling Publishing/Silver Oak (Barnes and Noble).

That meant my first novel – the one everyone said I’d never sell because it was my first – has now reincarnated for the third time (don’t get me started about “rules”). I guess when the USA version comes out with its own cover, that will be a 4th reincarnation! See what I mean about a strange journey?

Anyway, it’s all wonderful. I love it down here in Alice’s world. Who knows what will happen next? Is that a rabbit?


Lynda, thanks so much for joining us today. As much as I like to say I hate vampires, I really enjoyed the story and the characters in The Vampire Shrink.

In addition to Lynda's bio and excerpts of her writing, you'll find interesting articles at her website. Her blog is called Paranormality.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Lynda.

Lynda - Thanks for sharing your own publishing experience. You're quite right that nobody really knows precisely what's going to happen next in the field. I think that's why it's so important that authors and publishers (agents and editors, too) stay flexible and alert. The more open one is to what's coming, the better prepared one is. I wish you much success with The Vampire Shrink.

Lynda Hilburn said...

Thanks so much, Margo. You're absolutely right. We do need to stay open. I have been surprised at various writing conferences to hear authors/writers say they aren't interested in self-publishing. To me, that means they still don't understand what's going on. My biggest problem is finding time to not only write the things I'm under contract for, but other stories/books I can sell through alternative outlets. Today, authors' cups are more than half full. Thanks for stopping by!

Rashda Khan said...

What a brave, courageous journey! Thanks for sharing Lynda and thank you Pat for bringing her. :)

Best of luck with The Vampire Shrink!

Lizzie said...

Excellent post, Lynda. Thanks for sharing.

Maureen said...

Just the title of your book sounds very interesting, I will have to be sure to check it out.

Lynda Hilburn said...

Rashda: Great to see you here! Thanks for the kind words and I'm hoping your book is a smashing success!

Thanks, Lizzie. You're such a good pal!

Hi, Maureen: I hope you'll enjoy it. It's certainly a fun world to write about.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Lynda, thanks for being here so bright and early (while I was still snoozing on this frosty morning). Self-publishing is a great alternative for many authors -- they just need to heed the message about making sure their work is well-edited. Many beginning writers don't realize how much work their manuscripts need.

Lynda Hilburn said...

Patricia: Thanks for having me! I have to get up at the crack (actually before the crack) of dawn to get to work. I'll check in today between clients. I couldn't agree more about editing. I'm pleased to see so many editors, previously employed by various publishing houses, stepping forward to offer their services to self-pubbers (both indies and "trad" authors who are uploading new material). I'm sure professionals will create all sorts of services to offer to self-pubbers. It's an exciting time.

Peg Brantley said...

Pat, as always, your blog is wonderful.

And Lynda, great story. It does sound a little like others I've heard. For me, the takeaway is to write the best story I can write, and be flexible about where it takes me. I'm leaning strongly toward self-pubbing today, when two years ago I would have stuck my nose up in the air at the very idea.

Lynda Hilburn said...

Hi, Peg. Thanks for commenting. I think a couple of years back the idea of self-pubbing still had a lot of negativity attached to it. Things really only changed in that regard since 2009. And some of my author friends hesitate to self-pub their unsold manuscripts because they fear they'll have to do all the promo themselves. But that's the reality in all levels of publishing now. We have to become ever-more clever about our promotional avenues. Good luck with your self-pubbing!

TheaH said...

Thanks Pat for a lovely blog and for inviting Lynda to share her story.

I think the most important things to note about publishing today is that change is the new black and you must keep up with it. Not doubt "trad" publishing will always be around, but contracts are changing. You must understand what rights you are selling. I also think that if you have a back list languishing, you should get it up. You should also run the numbers -- 15% of forever for one of these new fangled models versus a flat rate for a service like getting the work up on e-pubbing sites -- and figure out what works for you in the long run. Remember: in the end, when all is said and done, "You are responsible for your career."

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, so many versions of just one book!

Lynda Hilburn said...

Hey, Thea! Great to see you. You're absolutely right: each of us is responsible for our own career. That can be scary but it's mostly exciting. I totally agree that there's no reason now for an author to have good books sitting on her/his computer hard drive. If the book is ready for prime time, self-pub it! It's no longer the case that if you put the book up yourself, no publisher would be interested in it. I'm one of the many authors who can dispute that. And congratulations, Thea, for all your sales!

Lynda Hilburn said...

Hi, Alex: Yeah! If anyone would have told me back in 2004 that 7 years later I'd still be talking about the same book, I'd have laughed. Well, I guess I AM laughing, but it's the good kind!

Dorte H said...

What a great story!

A vampire shrink? Yes, I can see the world must have been waiting for that one ;D

Lynda Hilburn said...

Thank you, Dorte H! I hope the world is not only waiting for it, but reading it!

Dean K Miller said...

I love it. A paranormal book going through mulitple reincarnations!

Lynda Hilburn said...

Thanks, Dean! LOL. I love it, too.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Lynda, just wanted to say thanks a bunch one more time. You're awesome!

Lynda Hilburn said...

It was a pleasure, Patricia! Thanks so much for having me.