Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBT+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Why I’m Not Trad Pubbing My Novels

Years ago, when I first started thinking about publishing my writing, I was more than happy to contemplate the Traditional Publishing path, quite willing to go through the rigmarole of trying to sell my books through and agent, and able to keep up with the process. That ability is no longer present.

With Bipolar, as I’ve mentioned before, has come writing downswings. These are frequently debilitating to the point where I’m unable to make any kind of editing progress or adding words onto whatever projects I happen to be working on. There is also the fact my brain goes through periods where it focuses solely on one genre, then switches to another. Last year (2013), I spent on fantasy and Science Fantasy projects. This year, it’s the gay romances which drove me into a severe depression in 2012.

With a fluctuating focus and interest in writing at all like this, it would make keeping up with a Trad Pub schedule nearly impossible for me. These genre-of-focus switches and writing downswings are, like all aspects of dealing with a mental illness, something which cannot simply be forced out—at least, not without some pretty severe and even more debilitating affects—which was why I was so severely depressed by the end of November in 2012.

Right now, I’m focused on the gay romances, which I have extremely mixed feelings about. However, earlier this year, I tried forcing myself to write on my Chraesti stories instead. That didn’t last. I began to hate what I was writing, got sick of the stories, and threw myself into a writing downswing with a spot of strictly writing-related depression, somewhat similar to where I was at the end of November 2012. The more I forced myself to write the Chraesti stories, the less focused I got, and the deeper my depression came. So I gave up and waited for the depression and writing downswing to pass. This was sometime in February or March, before my radiation treatments began and wiped me out for doing any writing at all.

To make things perfectly clear, at the end of November 2012, I was determined to give up writing the gay romances. I’d spent most of the previous year in writing downswings, some of which I forced myself to write through because I had outlines, incomplete projects with outlines (like 2011’s NaNo project), and was participating in some sort of wordcount-oriented writing “competition” like July Novel Writing Month or National Novel Writing Month. Forcing me to write left me an emotional wreck and the depression from doing that spread into other areas of my life, even though I did manage to write one Chraesti story for the FM Anthology series (check the “Published” page for that story).

When I surprised myself by beginning a brand new Chraesti story in mid-December of 2012, I promised myself I would never again force myself to write when I was in a downswing. It was just too traumatic to do so.

My mental health is very, very important to me. I want to be stable. Depressive swings are no fun. Hating my writing and myself and my life because I for some reason think I must write or work in some capacity on my writing is the furthest thing from fun I can think of.

If I took the Trad Pub route? I would, at some point, be guaranteed to have to force myself to work on my writing in some capacity during a writing downswing. If I somehow managed to succeed in this and get whatever edits or whatever were required done and back to my editor, I’d most likely be in some sort of emotional pit afterward. If I didn’t, I’d destroy my career, because no Trad Publisher is going to cater to any writer’s emotional upheavals regardless of how much they’re supposed to “nurture” authors (I don’t believe the “Trad Pub Nurtures Authors” myth, myself; I’ve heard and read too many anecdotes about how they do the complete opposite).

Not only that, the way my mind is apparently going to switch between contemporary gay romance and my speculative fiction would be a recipe for disaster. Say I somehow manage to sell Discordant Harmonies I during a period when I’m focused on my Fantasy and Science Fantasy. Good. Perfect. By the time edits roll around, however, I may be sick of all my speculative fiction and somewhat contentedly working on gay romances without any ability to consciously switch myself back to spec fic.

No Trad Publisher wants to hear, “I can’t make myself focus on that genre right now, so the edits will have to wait.” No. They’d demand a refund of whatever amount of the advance they’d already paid me, and wash their hands of me. And then, I would never be able to sell a book as Ashe Elton Parker to any other Trad Pub company because I didn’t fulfill my contractual obligations.

So, for this reason alone, going the Indie Pub route is the best for me. Besides, I like the idea of keeping full control over every aspect of my writing, from cover to being able to tell the stories I want to tell. Also, this way I can adjust my writing goals, schedule, and plans to fit what I’m actually able to write on, wait out the writing downswings, and go with the flow regardless of what’s going on with my life and my mental health so I don’t end up a severely depressed basketcase who hates their writing to the point of shelving it all in despair. I won’t ruin my writing/publishing career as an Indie.

For me, there are too many pros to Indie Publishing, and too many cons to Trad Publishing, for me feel confident in taking any publishing route besides Indie.

1 Comment

  1. Sounds like you’re working to your strengths, Ashe. Good for you.

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