A Matter of Time

John Ramsey Miller

The world is so connected now that a film taken seconds after a bomb kills civilians in Nigeria is on our computers minutes after the event––perhaps before the bodies have been lifted into ambulances. A purchase can be made in Europe using a credit card stolen in California minutes earlier. It is flat amazing how connected we all are. The faster things happen, the more I want to write about a time when a war could be at full tilt and most of the world be unaware of it for weeks, months or years. Hard to imagine a time when fingerprints were all but useless in connecting people with their actions. I long to put my mind, my writing ability, in a slower world.

I write this blog every other week, and I don’t always write about writing, because my life isn’t about “How To-ing.” Although connected to authorship, I’m not ruled by writing. Life takes up most of my time, and I can go weeks without writing anything but this fleeting missive.At the moment I am waiting for my daughter-in-law and two of my grandchildren to arrive from Wilmington, NC fleeing from a Hurricane Irene and my dear friend Dr. Phillip Hawley, who wrote STIGMA, a few years back is coming to visit. Phillip is a pediatrician from LA, who had a business degree, before he went to medical school. And he is a talented writer, who writes when he has time. His book is now available on KINDLE, and it’s a great thriller.

I have decided that, with the time I have left, I am going to adhere to a tough schedule and write the books I want to write, and to publish electronically from here out. I ain’t at my first rodeo and I can probably sell my books as effectively as a publisher can. I will have to find an editorialista who wants to work with me, and I am going to control my own future to the extent we can control anything. If I chose to write over the top, here and there, I will do it. I won’t care if my characters are not PC, or if they are more graphically violently inclined than someone else thinks is proper for the readers they think I have.

I also want to write my favorite continuing characters, and my publisher didn’t think the number of people who bought the books were adequate to keep the series going. The writing is what I love. The publishing part of the business has often gotten in the way of the creating.If forty thousand people read Winter Massey’s adventures, that is worth the time it’ll take to write. Starting on Monday I’m going to start polishing a standalone novel I completed last year so that it should be available for e-readers in six or eight weeks. I’ll let you know how it goes as it goes.

I think I’ve got time for a dozen books in the next three or four years. Then maybe I’ll take some time off.

18 thoughts on “A Matter of Time

  1. congrats on your decision. What a huge contrast from the last post down. I have no idea what to do. My opinion on the indy vs. big publishers always seems to shift, depending on what blog I’m reading.

  2. I am tired of waiting and trying to figure out where to go and what is happening. I’m tired of trying to figure out what the publishing companies are going to do, and I have decided to jump off the fence and put my eggs into one basket. Most of us published authors who fought for years to be in print and connected to a prestigious house have equated writing with the existing apparatus so we put on blinders. A lot of authors derive some of their self image according to the status of that house. I’ve been a member of the club for almost 20 years. I finally decided that houses are hardly more than chum boats, and my self image isn’t dependent on whether or not my books are on bookstore shelves. I’m just going to do what I want to do, control what I can control, and ignore the rest.

    It’s all about what you want it to be about. The houses have advantages for writers, and there’s no denying it. But if you write to entertain, you can do it without a house. The fact is that self publishing has been looked down upon forever, and the majority of self published books have been inferior to what the houses released. We, “the established,” are just as confused as everybody else. It’s three blind men describing an elephant. We’re all just dancing on corners trying to be taken into the car of a passing producer.

    I just want to get moving.

  3. Congratulations, John. I came to the conclusion last winter that one can only truly be successful on his own terms, whatever they are, and set about defining mine, much as you have done here.

  4. I’m so happy you finally decided to try this, but the best part is your decision to write for yourself and your readers. I think that will bring back the “fun.” You can do this, John.

    I also don’t see this as an either or decision anymore. What you’ve decided is one avenue open to authors, one with the potential for more control over the product and improved cash flow, but it won’t preclude you from working deals on your backlist or making new deals with traditional publishers. And a pen name can reinvent you, if you want to try something new.

    You are one cool dude, Miller, and I’m feeling damned proud of you right now.

  5. Taylor–I think everyone would like the validation that a publisher is willing to invest in your project and publish it. It’s definitely a cool thing to see your books in stores and in libraries.

    Your decision to self pub your first novella POUR is like the first step in building a resume. You’re building reader awareness and developing your promo. These are all things that will serve you well if you get a future project sold traditionally. Nothing is stopping you from pursuing a publisher. Keep working on your craft and developing your ideas.

  6. John, this is absolutely the right move for you. Going indie allows you not only to publish but to publish more. To write more. Which is what you love.

    The great thing is writers have options they never had in the past. Writers of precisely your profile are doing wonderfully well in the indie market. Writers with traditional deals can supplement those with complementary, self-published works. Writers can write under pen names and try new genres. There is a short story market again, just like in the pulp days. I find that very cool indeed.

    Of course, as Brother Gilstrap opined yesterday, there are a whole mess of writers who would never be published traditionally because they aren’t ready, who are tossing stuff out there that is practically unreadable. But those works will not clog the system for long. The works of a pro like yourself will rise.

    And you will even make money. Imagine that. Every month.

    Welcome to the power of E, John.

  7. I have a handful of novels that I wrote that weren’t great when I wrote them, but are fixable. They are Southern Gothic works I enjoyed writing. The violence is over the top as are the characters. I’ve been urged to share them for twenty years, but they weren’t what my publisher wanted to see from me.

    I just signed a deal for the erights for THE LAST FAMILY, a book that did very well for all concerned. Bantam priced it at 6.99 or so, just like all of my ebooks. What I would do, were I them, is to price Miller’s books at $2.99 or 1.99 and sell a big bunch, which ain’t happening now. Better to make 50 cents a book than 0 seems to make sense. What do they have to lose? I should tell them that.

    I have wanted to get in for a long time, but just couldn’t go forward. Why? I have no idea. I guess I have too much dinosaur in me these days. There will always be bad books by the score, but there are good ones that readers never get to sample. I don’t see the down side of ebooks. I’m late to the game, but I hear “it’s never too late.”

  8. I think it is awesome and can’t wait to see your new work on my Kindle.

    I like the options of epub and how it is regenerating the short story and novella market. Sometimes I don’t want an over-written brick. Sometimes I want an anthology or shorter tale. Epub is where I find option number two.

    If studios can make straight-to-DVD films, what’s wrong with books written and priced for straight to epub? Not a thing as far as I can see.

    Yesterday, John had some great points. He wasn’t saying epub is bad. He was saying that strutting in and thinking you can make a lot of demands on a publisher about rights in the contract is akin to walking into a gunfight and thinking you can control what kind of ammo the other side is using. Not going to happen.

    The publisher doesn’t need you – they’ll make more. Sure, they’ll pass up the occasional winner. However, none of the houses that passed on Harry Potter have folded.

    One thing the epub revolution has shown (shown me anyway) is that there is a tolerance for lesser editing if there is good storytelling. However, that tolerance set point is directly related to price. John Locke came out and said he wasn’t the greatest writer in the world, but a great promoter. His stuff is amusing. Not great literature by any means. It would have been mass market pulp on the drugstore spin rack priced at 75 cents back in the day.

    I am a huge consumer of epub. I’ll give a lot of writers a chance when I’m in one of my grazing moods.

    However, it has to be at the right price. Are you a total unknown? Then I’ll give you a throw at .99 cents. Have a pub portfolio and a following, I’ll go to $2.99. To get me to go above $2.99, you have to be a total pro like John writing in a favorite genre (or a friend that I am supporting). Above $6.99 ain’t gonna happen unless you are a mega player like King and it’s not available in print.

    To me, buying epub is like buying magazines. Entertainment, diversion and the occasional bit of enlightenment. Similar to a throwaway paperback with a lurid and interesting cover and blurb that I picked up at the airport because my flight was delayed.

    There is room for both in my world.

    I applaud you and can’t wait for updates.


  9. I have nothing against publishing companies. They are businesses, pure and simple, run by people more interested in shareholders and keeping their jobs than publishing great literature, or building authors’ careers. So it is. I don’t mind. And often editors will brag about passing on a great best seller because they will admit they didn’t care for the writing or the author or the story. They are less likely to take a chance on a new author than ever.

  10. Sounds like your heading in a good direction John. Each of us has to do what is right for our own career. And your stuff is the type that i think will get a good new following in addition to the following you already have. If the one you have coming out is the same one I saw a while back, I’m looking forward to reading the final version. That’s a good story.

  11. John, I liken you to the guy who worked in the furniture factory as a master craftsman for many years. Now, you’ve reached a point in your skill, your craft, and your life in general where you are handing in your resignation and opening up your own independent shop to do the kind of work the factory didn’t have time or patience for. I think it is awesome!


  12. Miller, if anyone can make a go of it, you’re the one. Once your fans find out that your stories are on the market, there’ll be celebrating in the streets.

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