This Writing Life--Mark Terry
Thoughts From A Professional Writer

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October 13, 2005
I recently blogged on Lee Goldberg's blog in response to one of Lee's regular diatribes against self-publishing. I'm not exactly neutral on self-publishing, but I tell myself I should just stay out of this issue. It's more nuanced than Lee tends to treat it (ie., it's all bad), which doesn't mean Lee isn't capable of subtlety--far from it--just that on this particular subject, for whatever reason, Lee feels pretty strongly. I don't actually feel that strongly about it, which allows me the luxury of looking at all sides of the issue, more or less.

Part of what I wrote is this:

So am I for it or ag'in it? I don't want to get involved in this argument at that level. My first book, Catfish Guru, was published via iUniverse (long story, but it was a reasonably satisfying experience until I tried selling copies of it). My second book, the novel "Dirty Deeds" was published by High Country Publishers, Ltd., a small press. I recently signed a 2-book contract with Midnight Ink/Llewellyn Worldwide, and although you might call Lewellyn Worldwide independent, you wouldn't call it small.

We run the risk of defining "legitimate" publishers out of New York as "any New York-based publishing house which is a completely owned entity of a communications conglomerate, ie., Random, Inc (Bantam, Doubleday, Dell, Delacourt, etc) is owned by Bertellsman; Warner, Mysterious Press, Little-Brown, etc is owned by AOL/Warner; Hyperion is owned by Disney; Morrow and HarperCollins is owned by Rupert Murdoch...

I'm done, I'm done, I'm done...

Mark Terry

Posted by: Mark Terry | Monday, October 10, 2005 at 03:55 PM

I then received this response from a gentleman I've had some correspondence with before, and he does tend to get in my face for whatever reason, and to my mind, gets rather personal, but here:

"Well Mark you defend it because that's all you've been able to do at this point. Those conglomerates, and there's no evidence this title impedes acceptance by anyone, are the companies that define the business of producing and selling books to mass audiences, but just anyone who thinks they have publisher, doesn't.

This is a tired argument indeed, but your defense fails on its face.

Posted by: marky48 | Monday, October 10, 2005 at 04:34 PM"

Okay. Here's the line: "Well Mark you defend it because that's all you've been able to do at this point."

I wasn't aware I was defending it, and I've been stewing a bit on this (I could use thicker skin, at least this week), and this morning I thought I might be honest and say, "Yes, you may be right." I don't slam the big NY publishers. I would like to be published by the big NY publishers. I would, as a matter of fact, like the world to know that in reality I am a churning urn of burning ambition who would like my novels to get huge advances, international subrights sales, movie deals and perch on the bestseller lists. Is it a fantasy? I don't know. Slightly less of a fantasy than winning the Lottery, since I don't buy lottery tickets but I do write novels.

At the same time, I don't wish to ever publish with iUniverse again. I had a fine relationship with High Country, and may very well try offer the follow-up to Dirty Deeds to them later, but I have moved on and they have moved on and it was amicable, but my agent and I thought we should try to sell "Bad Intentions" to a bigger house. By that same token, the 2 thrillers were marketed to some of the big NY houses and turned down (probably 6 of them, I'm not really sure which right off the top of my head) although they were turned down in the nicest possible ways, along the lines of, "Not quite right, but does he have anything else?", and Midnight Ink/Llewellyn Worldwide picked them up.

Midnight Ink is a new imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide, which is one of the world's largest publishers of new age books. Midnight Ink is not new age, but a crime/suspense imprint. Llewellyn is a REAL publisher, not a small press, if I can say that without insulting small presses. They give advances. They have normal distribution and marketing, etc. I may have a great long-term relationship with them. Who knows?

So am I being defensive about my status in the novel publishing world? Maybe a bit, but it doesn't generally come under question. I'm writing novels that are getting published by other people, reviewed, bought, read and apparently enjoyed and I'm making money from it. That's significantly more than most writers of novels and a lot more than I did for years of unpublished novel writing.

I view Llewellyn as the next step. Will it be the final step? I don't know. First I went with iUniverse, then a small press, then a big independent press. If my sales warrant it or I write a book that's capable of breaking into the publishing major leagues, such as they are, then fine. Or perhaps Midnight Ink will turn into a non-NY powerhouse or...

I could write at length here, and it feels like self-justification, when perhaps I don't need that at all. Or shouldn't.

Mark Terry

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