Standing at the dawn of my dream career like a newborn giraffe stands at the edge of a cliff, I can’t help feeling a little vulnerable whenever someone carefully asks whether or not they may address the elephant in the room: Am I a loser?
These are the top 6 questions I get on how much of a loser I am:
1. Are you self-publishing because you’re too impatient to wait for the right publisher to find you?
‘Ascension Denied’ really isn’t mass market. It’s marginally controversial, mocks religion (and science, and bureaucracy, and business, and art, and abstinence, and beer, and…) So I’d be waiting a very long time. And then, even if a big publishing house did fancy buying the rights to the book, I’d be required to change it to suit their portfolio. My writing partner and I have just done a major revamp on our mass market mystery at the bequest of our editor. It’s not the book we wrote (and that’s ok, it’s still great) – but I want to keep the integrity of ‘Ascension Denied’. I want the creative control, the commercial control and all the rights. Because I’m greedy, and also because I really believe in it.
2. Aren’t they called vanity presses for a reason? Aren’t they only for writers who are vain or desperate?
I’m relatively well-equipped with enough self-control to monitor my language, but when this question was presented I may have released a string of pearls so foul, so depraved, that even Beijing air would seem pure enough to bottle. Honestly, in any other industry, a willingness to invest in your own invention/business idea/product/art is seen as entrepreneurial and savvy. Consultants are widely used, not because business owners are desperate, but because they recognize the value of importing knowledge or experience from someone else to supplement their own portfolio of shit they can get done. So I feel no shame at all in spending my money on publishing my own novel. I’m vain, yes – extremely. But that is irrelevant. I believe in my book and I want people to read it. I don’t know much about publishing (yet), so I’ve thrown Dog Ear Publishing a wad of cash to help me out. Of course, if I was trying to open my own restaurant or sell my newly invented widget, there wouldn’t be a question. But somehow writers are expected to whore themselves out, turn their painstakingly created worlds into mass marketable drivel that suits the current trends, beg and weep and gnash and wring, until finally, finally, someone says their book is good enough. Good enough for what? I’m just saying, Snooki got a book deal….
3. Doesn’t it cost loads?
It certainly can! Or you can publish your book for hardly anything. It depends on how much support you need, whether you get a professional cover done, editing, marketing, all that stuff. You really shouldn’t do it alone though – even the most talented authors will at least contract out editing, copy-proofing, and cover design. It’s worth researching providers and services, because you can get whisked up into a crazy spending frenzy, and there are plenty of crooks out there waiting to help you relieve yourself of your fiscal burden. And that, of course, applies to any investment you make. I didn’t initially do enough research and signed with Abbott Press on the back of their shiny, sparkly sales spiel – WOW I learned fairly quick though. Unhappy customers, law suits, sub-par quality on their books, corporate profiteering. *shudder* Weeks of intense research followed and a then a quick transition to Dog Ear Publishing who have by far the most solid reputation for support services. Why didn’t I check it all out to begin with? Rookie mistake.
4. Are you worried nobody’s going to read it?
Nope!!! Worrying won’t help man nor beast. I have faith in the book. I might not have a giant marketing budget, but unless you’re James Patterson or Stephen King that’s not normally something traditional publishers will bestow on their authors anyway. It’s increasingly commonplace for authors to be expected to market their own book (I say their book, but of course it doesn’t belong to them anymore. Once you’ve sold the rights you’re effectively expected to market, promote and sell someone else‘s property. At least ‘Ascension Denied’ belongs to me.) I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to get billions of copies out there, but the solution will come to me.
5. But the quality won’t be as good as if you went with a traditional publisher though, right?
Why not? I hired a professional cover artist and an editor. The printers and distribution agents are the same that are used by the big guys. As for the book itself, I can write well. Just saying, Snooki got a book deal…
6. How are you going to succeed?
I haven’t the foggiest notion. But I’m fairly sure that nobody who ever did anything of value had any idea how they were going to do it. Two years ago I had no idea how to write a book, and know I’ve written two. They’re great, too. Last year I didn’t know anything about publishing, and today I have a book deal with a Big 5 and a novel on its way to market through my own independent efforts. So I’m pretty sure that if I keep putting one foot in front of the other, the path will illuminate itself as I potter along. I’m learning all about book promotion too, these days. Though that still feels like I’m trying to braid fog. Better keep plodding along!