I’m a glutton for punishment. Working on my new story The Starstrike, which will be a large series of Kindle Vellas first, I’ve embarked on the difficult challenge of editing, writing, and designing my own book. Some people may read this and initially think I’m crazy, or just plain ignorant; perhaps they’re right. Perhaps they’re wrong, or perhaps I’m a little bit of both.
Years ago, when I took my first few steps on the difficult road to learning fiction writing, I got sidetracked and decided to open up an online used bookstore. This was before the lot of them were unfortunately swallowed up by larger companies. As the penny sellers rose to new heights, and collectible books were hit or miss, or priced too high or low, I sat surrounded by towers of used sci-fi, fantasy, horror and romance books; even some art books. I took in their covers and text; and of course, like most readers, that glorious book smell.
It was some time before I promised myself I would self publish my own book; creating it inside and out. While I wish I had an editor, after years of education, and learning the framing of the industry, it’s not something I want to let hold me back.
I think this every day, whenever I step away from my work: Will this fail?
Will I see crazy reviews on typos, complaints of my story structure? Will I just completely miss a huge error in continuity from chapter to chapter? Even though I’ve helped numerous peers with their own stories? All writers know this initial fear. Established or other wise.
But the fact is, most of the classics we grew up on, that predate copyright law and publishing houses, were basically self- published books.
With a new draft in the works and life’s everyday problems, these thoughts funnel through my mind.
And yet… I know it comes from fear.
Fear’s twisted face, and cold eyes poking it’s ugly head up from behind my lap top screen. It mocks me; dampens my creativity, and takes my story and my time away.
I know where this creature comes from, and like Dr. Frankenstein, it seems I’ve created a monster of my own that I, at last, need to understand and come to terms with.
My creature comes from the fear of failure and the far off view of editing perfection we were all told about as children, worshiping the stories published by traditional houses. It was as if to getting published was akin to a mere mortal trying to reach Mount Olympus.
So while we enter this “new era” in publishing, I’ve always felt like it was the return to the method of creating immortal stories; the classics that have survived hundreds of years.
After all publishers have more resources, ( queue lightning and thunder); agents chase them accordingly, and reputable editors and graphic designers work for them. All of these amazing unattainable things that you, the lowly writer could never, and would never have unless you picked the golden ticket, or climbed the many mountains to reach Zeus himself (which, depending on the writer, is still worth it).
But let’s forget that for a second. We live in a golden age for writers.
That’s the popular take on self published books. I hear often that self-publishing is fairly new to the industry, even a decade or so later. But the fact is, most of the classics we grew up on, that predate copyright law and publishing houses, were basically self-published books.
In earlier years, the first printed books were mainly religious, and it was the printers who were like the publishers. In this Puritan like state, written word was very controlled. Later things changed, and it was about having patronage and money, just like what they called vanity publishing years ago. So while we enter this “new era” in publishing, I’ve always felt like it was the return to the method of creating immortal stories; the classics that have survived hundreds of years, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for example was a self-published work. Some have survived thousands, and are shown in our modern world through movies.
We study these immortal stories. We’re entertained by them. Inspired by them, and yet, they predate large corporate publishing and the classification of books for marketing purposes in genre and readability.
Now to be clear. I don’t hate publishers and if I had a great deal, or great support, I would totally hire a team to assist. More importantly, I love this industry, and have spent years studying writing formally, and independently. One Master’s degree later, I still study and review my many books on the craft.
We live in a golden age for writers.
This article isn’t to bash anyone’s decisions or desires on their road to publishing, indie or otherwise, but to help a writer who wants to try to self-publish on their own if they have too; to redirect their fears, and smash their own creatures, whenever or wherever, they poke their heads out. After all, it’s better to let the readers decide what is good to them, not our creatures.
The Starstrike is coming to Kindle Vella this November 2021! Follow GG5 in a coming of age & dystopian story, of a girl born from a star in a technologically advanced Victorian world.