The Long Game

Guest post
by Jake Bible

I have to admit something which you really aren’t supposed to: I’m a really good poker player. Like really good. Good enough that I used to play online for hours a day and actually win. I won tournaments, sit and go tables, stakes tables.

At least until the tide turned. Online poker started getting flooded with rookies that played wild and didn’t have a clue how the game worked. They threw enough chaos into the mix that even my best moves would lose. You couldn’t bluff them because they were too stupid to be bluffed. You couldn’t bully them because they were too stupid to be bullied. All you could do was hope the luck of the cards would come your way on a showdown.

And I don’t play by luck. I don’t. So I quit playing poker online. Just cashed out and walked away. I mean, why sit for hours on end in front of a computer screen when you have no clue if there will be a pay off or not?

See where I’m going with this?

Indie writing and publishing is a lot like poker. You sit in front of a screen for hours and have no idea if it will pay off. It is actually just as physically and mentally demanding as poker is. And has a lot of the same pitfalls.

Especially with all of the rookies coming into it. But instead of not knowing what they are doing, the rookie writers all seem to insist they do know what they are doing.

Not that I have a problem with rookie writers. I’ve only been doing this professionally for about four years. That makes me an experienced rookie at best. But the problem I have is the rookies that think they know how to “play” just because they’ve read some books, checked out a few blogs, and believed all the get rich quick hype. They blog about it themselves. They rattle their sabers and shout into the wind. They call out anyone they think they can and then sit smugly in front of their screens, happy they could contribute to the revolution.

Great cover! Lots of reviews! $.99 for a novel! Give it away, give it away, give it away for free now!

Viva la Revolucion!

The problem is they are ignoring the one and only truth when it comes to writing/publishing: There is no formula for success in publishing. Think I’m wrong? Then why isn’t every great novel with a great cover, a great price, great reviews, and great placement a bestseller?

Because the authors/publishers don’t choose what sells. The readers do. And those beautiful readers are a capricious lot.

This week they want vampire teens in love, next week it’s dystopian bloodsports. This week it’s New Adult, next week it’s literary falderal. BDSM this week, anti-BDSM next week.

You see, when it comes to writing/publishing, and this is the major difference between poker and writing, a full house doesn’t always beat three of a kind.

This is why I don’t subscribe to any one philosophy on writing or publishing. I self-publish my work, but I also have a literary agent busy trying to sell my manuscripts (which reminds me I need to email her). I write whatever comes into my head, I also have a project up right now where I have let my readers choose my next novel. I’m self-publishing short stories, and I’m sending stories to publications for consideration. I primarily write novels, but I’m also neck deep in a comic book adaptation script of my first novel. Have I mentioned I’m also writing for mobile video games?

And this approach to the game of writing/publishing seems to be winning. Or at least not losing. And I guess that’s the other difference between writing/publishing and poker. In poker you have to sit down and play the game before you. In writing/publishing you can have as many different games going as you have time for. And rookies can act like swirly-eyed cult followers and it makes no difference. They are playing by their rules, and I know there are no rules. In a real revolution there never are. So I guess, whether poker or writing/publishing, I’m all in.

Viva la Revolucion!



Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids. He is the author the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA horror novels Little Dead Man (November 2012) and Intentional Haunting (2013). Check out Friday Night Drabble Party every week! Free drabbles for all! Learn more about Jake at his website and his Amazon author page.

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12 thoughts on “The Long Game”

  1. Bravo!! I have to always remind myself that success is a combination of luck and hard work. Just because it doesn’t happen right now doesn’t mean it won’t happen. George RR Martin first published A Song of Fire and Ice in 1996. It wasn’t picked up for HBO for 13 years. It didn’t become a bestseller until 2011. And he’s spent his entire life writing…. Publishing is a long-range game!

  2. Nice post. I like the comparison between poker and self pubbing. Success is always that tricky mixture of a little luck and a lot of hard work.

  3. I definitely belong to the rookie brigade but even I have noticed the patterns in the lives of other writers. It seems to take years to reach a sort of ‘critical mass’ and then suddenly they become famous. I just hope my success isn’t posthumous. I’d have to come back and haunt people!

  4. Nice post, on the money, I couldn’t agree more, Jake. Interesting surname by the way. ‘Bethany and the Zombie Jesus’ by Jake Bible, I love it!

  5. Thanks for the great comments, y’all. feel free to contact me via Facebook, Twitter or email to chat more on the subject. Cheers!

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