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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Including The Sun/The Dream and The Reality

First of all, yes, this is the same blog.

I decided on a little facelift, within the confines of my web design ability.  Meaning I looked at the Settings tab to see what Google would let a novice like me do.  So the color palette has been brightened, and it looks kind of like a sunny day.  Because, you know, Under The Sun.

It was either that or change the name to "Through The Black."  Which some people might think to be racist.


When I decided that writing was what I was going to eventually do with my life, I had this vision in my head of it being not unlike the creative writing and journalism classes I took throughout high school and college.  Publishers, intellectuals, professors and high school English teachers alike would laud and praise my work, it would be consumed by the masses in quantities unheard of, and I would not only achieve fame and fortune but I would usher in a new era of world peace.  And I'd have groupies at coffee shop readings, because Sean Connery in Finding Forrester said so.

As an adult, the reality was a bit different.  My first novel was rejected out of hand by two dozen publishers, big and small, often without any word that they'd even opened the proposal.  The nerve of them, I thought, impeding my path to wealth and glory with their small-mindedness.  I chose to self-publish.

In the early 2000's, just before Kindle existed, conversations about publishing went like this:

"Oh, I published my novel?"
"Oh, really? Congratulations!"
"Yeah.  I self-published."
"Oh, really.  Congratulations?"

There were a lot of things that an arrogant 25 year-old tried to do.  First off, I decided that the traditional publishing model was broken.  After doing several hundred hours of very focused searching (the Internet is wonderful for giving you an unbiased base for your bias), I came to the conclusion that the only people making money anymore from publishing were the publishers and the very big name authors, the Dan Browns and Tom Clancys, and unknown writers like myself had little to no shot of breaking in.  The big publishers wouldn't look at you unless you had an agent, and an agent very likely avoided you unless and until you had a deal (I kept one of my agency rejection letters that actually said I should think of them when I secure a deal with a publisher).  I looked at self-publishing -- through iUniverse (as shady as they are, they are useful for what they're useful for)-- as the only way to unleash my genius upon the world.  And The Fab 5 was born.  I completed my book, had my name in print, and all I had to do was sit back and wait for my money to roll in.  My landlord at the time wasn't as fond of the idea and recommended I keep my day job.

With time and distance I realized The Fab 5 wasn't going to make me money.  I was an unknown who hadn't promoted my work at all and had no clue how to do so.  There are life reasons for that I won't get into right now, but anyway.  It was a slap in the face; how could all of those English teachers been wrong?

Fast forward some years, and I've adjusted my expectations.  The Favorite is enjoying a modicum of success, which for me now means more people dig it than not.  And one of the things I've realized is that I have to constantly promote, constantly remind, constantly pitch and sell.  And the truth is, as much of a hassle as it can be, I kind of enjoy it.

I was right about a few things.  The traditional publishing model is broken.  It is reliant on the idea that the big  publishers are the gatekeepers of inclusion into some sort of artsy-fartsy literary club, and the only way to have any sort of legitimacy is by begging for their approval  (I had an iUniverse employee refer to self-publishing as the "minor leagues").  Technology has made them the keyholders to a vacant, dilapidated and overpriced apartment building in a really crappy neighborhood.  Yeah, you could live there, but for the same amount of hassle you could live somewhere else and have more money.