Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Are you a Guerilla Writer?

Google is in court beating up on the Authors Guild. Apple is in court. Publishers have thrown in the towel in the DOJ case. The world watches as Amazon rules the digital roost. And the Big 6 traditional NYC publishing houses have become the big “5”. Or is it 4? Random House & Penguin are now a publishing conglomerate and everyone is waiting to see what changes are coming from that combo. No doubt about it, though, it will mean less choice for readers. As RH and P combine their imprints, and their philosophies, some more innovative energy may well wane. Tried and true, after all, is what publishing has always been about. They may not be able to pick a bestseller, but they’ll stick with any winning concept until it’s old and gray. Borders is a distant memory. Barnes & Noble is floundering. The “next big thing” is a 21 year old author whose book was first offered up on Wattpad. Self-published authors are reaching the top of the bestseller lists against behemoths like James Patterson. Books are being optioned for television and motion pictures by the handful. I just received a check for a short story. Ah, where to go wild with that $25? On the flip side? Sylvia Day’s got plenty to spend with her recent two book, 8 figure deal with Penguin. From the ridiculous to the sublime.

But you see, the thing that’s exciting about being an author in this day and age - if you are willing to take leaps of faith, try new paths to publication, and eschew the “RULES” that everyone attempts to throw in your face - is that you have so many ways to be a successful storyteller! I’ll bet any writer you meet, deep down, wants to be a successful writer. No matter what they write, they want to be bought and read – and compensated for their art. There’s probably a couple folk out there willing to write for the mere pleasure of writing, but they are the rarest of birds.

Being in NYC affords me a wonderful opportunity to watch this industry change. I work in entertainment and media, so I get a lot of news that way, including how the legal industry is changing to accommodate digital, including in the publishing world. [Hint: Copyright change is on the horizon, big time!]. There are industry events held here pretty much on a weekly basis that I can attend. I’m a member of a national writing organization and my NYC chapter is rife with news, and even better, innovative members who are graving this exciting new world with laptops blazing. Social Media is the be all and end all for writers. Conferences abound. Outfits of every ilk to help you write, edit, publish, market, brand are sprouting like weeds.

Sounds exciting, no? Sounds like there are opportunities for everyone, right?

So why the long faces, people? Seems like everywhere I turn, some group or another is pissing and moaning. Things should stay the way they were! Aren’t they watching? Nothing can stay the same. Change is inevitable. And you can either embrace it or you’ll be steamrolled over by it, left in the dust. Then there are the other grouches who want the baby thrown out with the bathwater – everything old should be jettisoned. Do everything the new way! But the old models have validity too. And if you don’t want to go with the opinion being espoused? Then you’re considered out of touch or na├»ve. If you go bold and brazen, the traditionalists think you’re nuts. If you make the choice to remain with the old school models? You’re nuts.

So, what’s a writer to do?

Well, here’s my two cents (or rather, given the length of this post, I expect you are suggesting it’s more like a buck fifty, right?). Be a guerilla writer.

Pay no attention to the proselytizers and the grumpy naysayers.

Forge your own career path.

Pursue your dream of publication, be it the first piece ever, or the umpteenth title, exactly as you choose. From start to finish. Don’t like outlining? So don’t do it. Love Scrivener? Use it. You hear that you should stick to a single genre, but you want to spread your imaginative wealth around. Let ‘er rip! Want to see your printed book on a shelf because that is the only way it is “real” to you? Then keep on truckin’ and work til you get there. Think digital first is the coolest thing ever with millions of eager readers just waiting out there to download your story gems? Then go for it! Want to keep every decision in the process yours and only yours? Indie-pub with glee. Think there’s advantages to all of these options? Welcome to the world of hybrid publishing.

How you reach your goal is not the important thing. What is, is reaching that goal, by any means necessary. The caveat? What does choice demand of you? That you be prepared to roll up your sleeves and sweat blood and tears. Be educated and informed. Be vigilant because your product is all you have. Be hands-on and pro-active. Be prepared to fail, re-strategize and try again. Be realistic and resilient. Be flexible and open to new innovation as well as old methodology. Be constantly aware that being a book author in this day and age means you are 50% author and 50% businesswoman, and in the words of Eloisa James, “the businesswoman comes first”. But above all, be smart. Remember that what works for you is anathema to another author. Your skill set is unique to you and someone else may choose alternate ways because they have a different brace of talents. Be a guerilla writer as you navigate this new publishing jungle. And don’t sneer at that other author or her choices. Instead, cheer each other on. And when you are crossing the finish line with an author who did it her way? Hold hands and smile as you embrace that dream!

Lise Horton is published in digital erotic romance anthologies. Her upcoming 9/9/13 contemporary release, Words of Lust, will be a digital first erotic romance from Carina Press. And in 2014 she’ll be included in the Cleis Press print anthology, “Slave Girls” with her short story “My Master’s Mark” under her pseudonym, Lydia Hill. She writes in multiple lengths and numerous genres from BDSM erotica to WWII women’s fiction. Yes, she’s doing it her way! Find her at


  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They were right on! Julie Moffett

  2. Guerrilla author. I like that. I think the main thing, regardless of how/where you get published, is that you need to find your audience. The people who love your writing. Of course, that's not easy to do but it's my goal. I thought your book was going to be out in June, but Sept. will be here before we know it.

  3. Well said and of course the thing not to ever lose sight of in the midst of everything else (blogs, promo, twitter, kerfuffles, etc)is writing the next book LOL.

  4. Wow! What great thoughts, Lise. I hope your attitude rubs off on everyone whose lives you touch. Looking forward to your Words of Lust.

  5. I am amazed at how you have your finger on the publishing pulse. I agree with all that you said. The publishing business has made some big changes and it is bound to make bigger and bigger changes in the very near future. We all need to be sure that we are there when it all happens or be left out in the cold.