The time between the release of Back From Nothing and its follow up seems like an eternity.
After releasing my first book I had the sudden realization of…OK, now what?
Now what, indeed.
It’s all well and good to want to get a book out and to accomplish that, however you do it, but then comes the work – now you have to support it. I did just that. I went to conventions and vended. I did art shows and sold the book and my chapbooks. I looked for opportunities to promote my book and to keep it alive. It’s exhausting though to keep pushing the same product over and over and over so the chapbooks helped keep me excited. The chapbooks and then the art I did were window dressing for the books, which I was focused on.
I kept writing, eventually setting down the makings of later books, the big one being my first novel, that fell into itself accidentally. As the years passed I looked for agents, and for publishers to put out other books of mine. Unfortunately I was a short story writer and as much as I may love short stories, the makret said otherwise. As did the publishers.
I was out at sea a bit.
I was able to go to the World Horror Convention in 2005 and met some great folks, read a short story to a crowd of folks despite my fear, and pitched my novel A Shadow Over Ever to two publishers. Neither publiher was interested in anything but themselves and I wasn’t really in a place to sell a book that I wasn’t sure what it was yet. I was still writing. I was blogging and reviewing movies regularly. I was running out of steam though. After ten years since the Back From Nothing had come out it was hard to keep pushing.
I was vending at our area’s big regional comic convention, my short story collection, some art, and some chapbooks in tow. I happened to have a table beside a man that was selling his own book, a thick novel with a plain cover and that was it. One book. Lots of copies I felt for the guy because his book was priced at $25 and I thought there was no way he was going to sell many books, if any. I had been doing shows for years and had learned very well that folks just don’t tend to be drawn to fiction at these sorts of shows.
I asked him about his book and he told me he had self-published it and that it was about a superhero.
The book sold out.
I was shocked and in awe and, honestly, jealous.
How had he done it?
Of everything though, what stuck with me was that he’d self-published. Up until that time I had always thought it was something that so expensive it was out of reach and figured that no one took it seriously anyway so why bother.
Then I started to look into it and realized that self-publishing was far, far differen than it used to be when I started and that it was getting easier to do and was being seen with less skeptical eyes. We were still years from folks taking these books seriously but the tides were changing.
In 2009 I put out my second book, another collection of newer stories called This Beautiful Darkness. I had gotten the name from the band Anthrax‘s rhythm guitarist Scott Ian, when I saw him reference someone’s music as a sort of beautiful darkness. I loved that idea. It was from there that I found my name for these stories.
By this point I had been writing for another ten years and had honed my style and craft and went through everything I had to try to pick out the best stories I could. I wanted a broad range of things to show what I could do and added into the book some of my photography.
It was with This Beautiful Darkness that I learned how much fun it can be to put books together. I fell in love immediately with the art of self-publishing because I could control all aspects of it. They were my stories, my layout, my edit, and my artwork on the cover. It was all me, for good and for ill.
I was excited when it came out I did something I didn’t do with the first book, I celebrated it with friends and family.
The stories here aren’t as raw, but they show how much I had grown as a storyteller and writer and I felt it was the perfect representation of who I was as a writer at that moment. My style had grown darker and deeper, and these stories showed it. As I look back, there are things I would change, but that means I have kept growing as a writer and creative but this book represents so much to me, and is a physical representation of hope renewed and I’ll always love it for that.
And suddenly, I had two books to take around and a new fire in my belly, and it was only the beginning.