Last week, I turned 42. In a society as age-centric as our own, you’d think I’d be freaking out about it. After all, the half-century mark is creeping ever closer. The faint etchings of age around my eyes are slowly becoming fault lines. And the old knee injuries of youth have come back to haunt me. It ain’t all bad, though. I’m actually in better shape now than I was 20 years ago. My vision is still 20/15. And when I look at turning 42 as simply having seven 6th birthdays, I trick myself into thinking it’s not such a hard thing to deal with.
Inevitably, however, there comes a day when the lights will go out. When the flame will get snuffed. When—not withstanding a person’s personal religious beliefs—we’ll all be spending the eternity drifting and tumbling through a moist, black void of non-existence. It’s the worst blow of all to the human ego to think of our minds—our consciousness—as nothing more than the mesh of a functioning brain; our bodies simply a bag of tissue and enzymes.
No artist can ever truly explain the drive to create. It’s a maddening, arduous process to sit there before a blank page and try to give some tangible form to artistic expression. Aside from the hours of thinking and ruminating and spelunking deep into the oft-treacherous caverns of the mind comes plenty of self-doubt and second-guessing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve championed what I thought was the perfect set of paragraphs, only to glance at it the very next day and consider it all just complete garbage. A hobby like golf or stamp collecting would be much easier on the psyche, for sure. But that’s just it: a writer, and I mean one who writes with the desperation of someone trying to take air, doesn’t see writing as merely a hobby. It’s not something you do because you have an hour to spare. It becomes something you must do. A need to be fulfilled. We write to beat the Devil and that’s the point. Whether it’s painting a canvas or writing a song, sculpting a garden or writing a story. It may sound like a stretch but the basic goal of creativity is to compete with the inescapability of our mortality. We long to create something that’s bigger than us. Leave some part of us behind that will, at least in a pragmatic sense, remain timeless. Does that mean that all artists are narcissistic? Who exactly does longevity and timelessness matter most to anyway? The writer, or the reader? On any given day it can be either.
When you nail a sentence, it takes you to euphoric heights. Flub one, and it sends you plummeting to crushing depths. But that’s how it goes. You take the good with the bad. You follow your instincts while not always knowing what the instinct is saying. Because with every valley comes a peak. Ignore the value judgments of others and write only what is truthful. For when you create something you can be proud of, then you’ve already beaten death.
It’s been about two weeks now since I signed with my first fiction book publishing contract, and now I am preparing to possibly sign with a publisher for one of my non-fiction books. It is an exciting time, and I want to bring up some considerations for others at this crossroads.
1. Freedom versus collaboration
When self-publishing, you take on a lot of the risk, but you also have freedom. You can do price promotions when you want, decide on your cover and all that jazz, but you have to be serious about the details. Plus, you can publish immediately! Small presses take anywhere from 3 months to 3 years to get your book out there.
When working with a publisher, there is a risk that they may do something you don’t like, but it’s also more likely that they have a better idea of what they are doing than you would if you were to do it yourself.
2. Marketing and cross-discoverability
Having someone out there with a known name marketing your book will likely lead to enough sales to make up the difference in royalties you’ll be losing to your publisher. However, I have heard a lot of stories of small-press publishers NOT doing any real marketing – so make sure to know what you are getting into.
There’s a chance that, when publishing with a traditional publisher, someone may discover your book by clicking on another book by your publisher and going to their website.
3. You can always self-publish other books
Just because you go with one publisher, it doesn’t mean you always have to go that route. But beware that a lot of contracts will have stipulations, such as the right to consider your next book. Some authors prefer to be self-published, others traditionally published. Some, as is the case with me, like the idea of being a “Hybrid Author,” both traditionally- and self-published. It’s like splitting in Blackjack (is it? I actually don’t understand the game that well, but you get the point).
4. Traditional publishing still carries more weight
Some of us may not like to admit it, but traditional publishing still carries a certain level of prestige that self-publishing may not. Yes, most people just see your book on Amazon (Nook, etc.) and think it’s awesome you published a book, but if you meet someone at a writers conference or agent pitch fest or whatnot and they ask if you are self-published, you may see interest drop when you say yes. That used to be me (sorry!). My co-blogger here shared stories with me as well, where she met folks who said skeptically “Oh, you’re published?” and only showed real interest when they learned she wasn’t self-published. Unfortunately, a lot of people self-publish works full of issues, so you can’t totally blame the skeptics.
So if it’s the prestige you are after, considering going traditional with at least one of your books.
If you would like to follow my book publishing progress, you can find several of my self-published novels on Amazon
, to include Teddy Bears in Monsterland
and Back by Sunrise.
My literary novel Mohira
will be published when the publisher is ready!
Why would you just sell your book in ebook or print, when you could sell it as an audiobook? Maybe your answer is that you have no idea how to get your book into audiobook format. If that’s the case, there are a couple of choices, but the one I like is ACX.com.
I recently released the audiobook for Teddy Bears in Monsterland, my preteen novel of a teddy bear that goes into the lands of monsters to save his boy who was taken in the night. And guess what? The process was easy. ACX is like a big brother program, pairing us up with amazing (potentially) narrators and holding our hand along the way. (more…)
“You don’t have to,” said Marci, with an affect that made it impossible for Davis to know whether it was being uttered out of sincerity, or more as a disclamation to have to reciprocate such favors some day in the future. Either way, it mattered not. It was a small price to pay to shake off any stodgy reservations that his newly appointed division support assistant might have had regarding her assignment to the company’s Topeka branch. Over lunch (she had had the chicken dumpling soup and a salad; he, a chicken cordon bleu sandwich, fries and Sierra Mist), Davis had detailed for her his own odyssey from mailroom clerk in the company’s Boston flagship office, to Administrative Assistant in Danbury, to Administrative Assistant Coordinator and later Client Relations Specialist in Charlotte, to Facility Manager and Administrative Assistant Manager at the Minneapolis branch, before finally landing the Division Supervisor gig in Topeka. (more…)
“Snuffleupagus always kinda freaked me out,” Atkins said, looking out the restaurant window to the street where a cop had just pulled over a guy in a gray Nissan. “Not him, per se. I think it was his entrance music. That sort of dragging, swaying, shambling music that seemed to strike-up out of nowhere. Think about how unsettling it’d be to think that some shaggy, over-medicated, mastodon-ish creature could just appear out of nowhere and address you with this apparent, soul-tingling kind of disinterest. If you watch closely, you can almost guarantee that the other characters had the same oh shit kind of feeling about Snuffleupagus, too. They all kind of stand there for a second with these blank expressions and for just a moment, it’s like they feel some sort of mortal dread to see him standing there. Good old Gordon always had a way of seguing any awkward situation into something that seemed somehow relevant and all-inclusive. It seemed like he could defuse any situation.”
“Man, it was Tiny Tim, for me. Jesus, man. I mean, what the fuck…? That buzzing mosquito falsetto voice. Long, stringy sea-hag hair. There was just something about him that made me feel like I had been, I don’t know, victimized by him in some past life. Like I somehow knew what it felt like to have his hot, rancid breath panting on the back of my neck. Christ.”
“Tiptoe through the Tulips.”
“Nevermind Tiptoe through the Tulips. Ever hear his cover of The Doors’ People are Strange? Or that one song, “Little Girl”? Where he wants to know where some little girl is sleeping and then asks her if it’s in some trees or some shit?”
Each turned to watch the cop as he was walking back to his patrol car with the motorist’s license and vehicle paperwork in hand.
“That guy looks pissed,” Atkins remarked.
“No, the driver.”
“I don’t know…Tiny Tim, man. And that Dating Game killer guy looked just like him. Some freaky dudes in this world, man.”
“Here’s one for ya: Edward Muscare. Ever heard of him?”
Roberts shook his head.
“Edward Muscare…Oh, Pretty Woman. Google it, you’ll see.”
When the cop returned to the Nissan, each tried to determine if the driver, based on his facial expression, was getting a ticket, but the cop was blocking their view of him.
Yet another one of those things they’d never know the answer to.
Being relatively new to the whole blogging thing, I’m still trying to navigate my way around the WordPress landscape. Despite the patient helpfulness of my friend and fellow Redwoods colleague, Laura Wilkinson Hedgecock, I still can’t figure out the difference between an “SSO” and an “SEO”. To me, “Users Ultra” sounds like a brand of condoms, and a “Plugin” sounds like something you’d order from an Adam & Eve catalog.
One thing I’ve figured out: you receive upwards of a billion spam messages a day in your spam filter. Some of them are pretty lame, like the tenacious pitches on how to make $1700 a day from home, or how I can buy a new pair of Air Jordans for $75 (written in mostly indecipherable English). Others, however, appear quite complementary. Even if they’re not specific to me, they still warm my cold, December heart.
Nevertheless, I have to remind myself that each of these messages were originally banged out on a keyboard by a pair of tender, caring human hands. With this mind, I’ve agreed to respond to some of them.
onlinecigarettestoreus wants to know:
“Great looking website. Assume you did a bunch of ace discount cigarettes your own html coding.”
–Yeah, I considered that; just didn’t seem like the right time.
Here’s one from scsuhuskies:
“saffiano leather for sale”
–You better not be joking…
Gay porn writes:
gay firstname.lastname@example.org 188.8.131.52
“Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Very helpful info particularly the closing phase I deal with such info much. I was seeking this certain information for a very lengthy time. Thank you and best of luck.”
–I’m glad you enjoyed the post, gay. I’ve actually had quite a few people remark on the closing phase section as well. I’m just sorry that it took so much time for you to find it. Check back next week when I’ll be providing some helpful tips on farcy garages and kedge tarhood.
And then there’s this writer’s two-cents:
“Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles?
I mean, what you say is fundamental and all. You could give yourself redirection.
However just imagine if you added some great photos or video clips to give your posts more,
“pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics and videos, this website could definitely be one of the best in its field.
-Solid advice, coming from a guy who can’t even spell ‘red erection’ correctly.