Sunday, July 3, 2016

Self-Publishing: 3 Links to Your Independence as a Writer

This Fourth of July weekend I’ve been trying to finish the cover illustration for “Circa Sixty Years Dead” and so far am making progress. I also started a new short story for the first time since . . . I don’t even want to say. For me it’s been hard to write new short stories each week as I’d like because, as a self-publishing author, I’m a Jack of all trades. Unlike with traditional publishing, a self-published author has to arrange for the book’s design, including its cover illustration, formatting and marketing. In my case, not only do I arrange for the cover’s illustration, I make it. That’s because I like doing the art, since I’m also a visual artist (I minored in the subject in college), but it’s still a hell of a lot harder work than one would think. But as there are many hardships to self-publishing there are also many advantages to it, ones that add up to freedom. I’ll list three links to some really neat articles by other self-published authors that talk about that freedom as well as the disadvantages of self-publishing in a bit. But first I’d like to talk about an important reason for going the self-publishing route.

The Number One Importance of Self-publishing: Freedom

Why self-publish your book as difficult as it may be? Above all, because you have the freedom to write what you want and show it to the world. Before the technological miracle of the internet, authors had to basically kiss ass up to major publishing houses such as Random and Simon and Schuster. Top book publishers such as these would often only accept what they felt the majority of readers wanted. If you wrote retrofuture sci fi such as (what we call today) steampunk or atompunk, your manuscript would return to you with a rejection slip. But when internet got rolling in the late ‘90s publishing was no longer an impossibility for aspiring authors, especially those who had their own unique stories and styles. So internet and the programs born from it--such as blogging, social media and self-publishing platforms--have freed the author from having to put him or herself at the mercy of a top publishing house. Like the personal computer freed information sharing from elite government and corporate exclusion and into the hands of the people in the 1970s and ‘80s, the internet today has freed the author from the necessity of top publishing companies.

I went the self-publishing route mostly to publish what I wanted to write as well as to publish period. For several years, I had written short stories and submitted them to magazine publishers and they were always rejected regardless of how original they were. Some were maybe rejected for being “too” original. I did get some rejection letters that showed hope though, which I’m really thankful to those editors who sent me them, letters such as one that indicated in the editor’s hand-writing why they didn’t accept it. Letters such as that help an aspiring author a lot, both with his or her writing itself and with knowing where to submit to. But when I finally learned of self-publishing and Amazon in the mid 2001s, I knew that publishing my own work was the way to go.

But another thing that has particularly freed the speculative fiction author from limitations of publishing success is the present day science fiction/fantasy revolution. As the author of one of the articles below says, years ago it was hard for aspiring writers to break into selling science fiction/fantasy because it was not taken that seriously by the majority of critics or even by a general readership. It was seen as merely escapist, pretty much comic book level reading (although even comic books have recently been taken more seriously, and for the better). But with the success of the current geek revolution has come the success of the speculative fiction one, mostly due to popular TV and movie ratings in the genre. So now it’s so much easier to get acknowledged as a writer of sci fi or fantasy, including subgenres such as horror and even sub-subgenres like steampunk. Yet to do so, at least as a self-published writer, you need to work hard at it, especially at the marketing level, but above all at the writing itself: you need to write with good quality.

Links to Writing-and Publishing-Independence

Here are three links to celebrate your freedom to self-publish that both discusses the advantages and disadvantages of publishing your own work. Self-publishing isn’t necessarily for everyone. Some people don’t want the hard work of marketing and book design on their shoulders which is okay. But if you want to publish badly enough like I did, this is probably the route to go or at least give a try. These three articles discuss in more detail what’s in store for a person who’s thinking about going that route.

“The Indie Sci-Fi Revolution”
This is a really great article by a really neat speculative fiction author who talks about the history of indie sci fi writers.

“How to Get Started (And Get Ahead) In Science Fiction Self-Publishing”
What I like most about this article from io9 is the point that it makes about writing the fiction you love as opposed to the fiction that’s popular on the market, which self-publishing makes it easier to do so.

“The Truth About Self Publishing”
While the author gives her reasons in detail about why she went the self-publishing route, she also shows the work that an author has to put into it. She gives some really good advice in marketing your writing especially through online social networks and forums, advice that even I find useful after having marketed through social media for more than three years.

I’ll have more of the cover illustration to my book done by next weekend and so will keep you updated on the progress. If everything goes by as planned, I may even have a cover reveal for it here by then! Until then, here’s a question for you: Do you think self-publishing gives an author more independence in his/her writing? Why or why not?

Have a safe and Happy Independence Day and . . .

Until next time . . .

Four American Revolutionary cartoon ghosts playing instruments.
Credit: YouTube/Filmation Associates

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