A funny thing happens when you write a story, or a book – the work has just begun. If you are lucky enough to have a publisher then they will help with the work of publicizing the book, shipping it, getting it reviewed, getting you signings, and generally just making sure the thing has a chance out in the world. Unfortunately very few published authors have a lot of those luxuries and the lower down the food chain you are the more work there is to do. For me, a self published author, I have always fought alone. My first book, my collection Back From Nothing was subsidized (which was an older way of essentially self publishing, you just paid for the costs and they did some of the work) and the company went under so I had to do all the work myself.
And it’s hell.
It’s hell to try to sell, promote, and ship your work. It’s hell because you are your champion and almost every door is closed to you. It was a rough ten years, trying to promote the book, but I learned a lot by doing it, the most important thing being to GET…IT…OUT! You have to get it out to people which means you do art shows, comic conventions, genre conventions, and whatever you can think of to get people to meet you and to see the book. That is the difference. If you are a new author then people don’t have any investment in you and unless you have an utterly gripping story summary the odds of you selling books to strangers is little. In an environment where you are among creative people, or people who want to find that new, cool thing you will be able to forge a connection and sell some books. Still though, you’re alone.
It’s rough, to say the least, to know that other than indie bookstores, no one will carry your work, as a self published author. The chains may list you on their sites but they won’t ‘waste’ their shelf space on your book. And part of you can understand that because, well, who are you? Why should they sacrifice space on their shelves for someone who may not even be able to write. You have to prove yourself. Only, how do you do that if they won’t take a chance on you? Having worked retail I know that space is always at a premium, but I also know that you can always find extra space if you look, cram, shove, and take a minute to think about it. But publishing and bookstores are all about the ‘big guys’ and the fad. Not a bad thing, just a thing that is a truism. The publishing world is much, much smaller than it has ever been in what it wants and will spend money to promote and produce, despite all of the boutique and small publishers (which are all but self publishing when you look at what they will do for you, yeesh!), so many of us, despite our talent or lack thereof, are left to fend for ourselves. For me, it makes more sense to forge my own path with self publishing, and to try to get my work out there. I believe in my work, I love it, and I trust that it will find an audience, and it has, at least from time to time. Is it my ideal? Hell no, but it is what it is, and you can fight the system, or give in to it.
I choose to fight.
I am hoping with the release of The Meep Sheep you will choose to fight with me. I need to get this book to the world, and hopefully to you, dear reader. I am doing a few local shows, so that helps, but so does word of mouth. I am going to try to get the book into the hands of some teacher friends to see if they are interested in sharing it with their students, I am going to do the cons, and I will keep writing here and thinking of new ways to get the book(s) out to you and everyone else. It’s a shame that so many writers are ignored, and are marginalized. See, there’s not as strong or organized of an indie scene with writing as there is with music but, together we can fight the chains and support and promote the work we love. There is an ocean of great work out there that we are not seeing. It’s time to start finding and supporting it, isn’t it?
Together we’re strong.