Friday, April 22, 2016

Beginnings ... (?)

It looks like my last post was the 2500th on this blog. Interesting; it was about neverending dying. It was unplanned.

Like so much of life. Unplanned.

One year ago, I allowed myself to contemplate putting The Ax and the Vase away. At the time, I could not face that as a death, but a persistent coma eventually becomes a death for those who are still in the waking life. It hasn't been long since I memorialized that death, not for the first time, but pretty much in that context. I even said, there is a freedom in letting go. I have been seeing the "release" aspect of death a great deal of late.

And so, it is hard. It is hard to contemplate hope instead.

Stripping off the preciousness and poetry: it's hard, and terrifying, to find myself considering self-publishing.

There is an aspect to the idea that feels like death, itself. The dream of traditional publishing, for me, has been a long one - as long as the writing of Ax itself was, and that was ten years or more. In the beginning, there was a powerful challenge and a business to learn, and that appealed to me. In the midst of that education, the idea of learning another way was overwhelming.

I've seen the commitment it takes to be an indie. I've long, too, seen the liberty inherent in being pre-published. For all these years, the technical side of the self-pub path has been aplenty to stymie me and allow me to maintain an almost studied ignorance, focusing on the traditional pub path.

Damn my brain. I find with age, it is more open, not less, to new ideas and new ways of doing things. I'm a Virginian! This is not natural.

But, even my wee and paltry brain is capable of perception. It has not escaped me that the infrastructure and the process of self-pub has been refined and cultivated over the same years indie's reputation has grown, along with its popularity. And my wee and paltry brain occasionally gets the idea it might just be big enough to learn something new.

And my heart and my talent and my uppity-osity kind of think Ax is a good novel. That it should not die.

I'm still very well aware of its disadvantages as a product. But vanity wonders ... could it work in a market unlike traditional publishing? In this, my wee and paltry brain may admittedly be prone to arrogance.

I am by no stretch committed. Too much to learn even to begin. And this time has been a hard time; it is possibly the worst time in the world to take on such an enterprise. But this is perhaps part of the reason I contemplate it.

As for the rest: I blame my wee and paltry brain. And reading. Reading. Reading. Reading. And a friend who is willing to give me the benefit of her experience and expertise, at least as a starting point. I am grateful for Leila Gaskin. As who wouldn't be?


The comments are open. I would love to see others' thoughts.


Colin Smith said...

If you love the novel, and want to see it in print, and you feel you've exhausted the traditional route, it makes sense. I'm no expert, but I've read about self-pubbing, and you're right. To do to it properly and do it well requires work and commitment. It requires being prepared to pay someone to edit. Pay someone to design a professional-looking cover. And then there's promotion. But as you said, the self-pub world has grown up a lot in the last few years. Expert advice is close to hand. It might even be easier than you think. But ultimately, you look at the result: your novel in print. Available to purchase.

Not an easy decision, but I understand why you're considering it. All the best to you, Diane, no matter what path you decide to take.

Lilac Shoshani said...

Going self-pub is such a huge decision, Diane. And yet I hear you. You don't want your novel to die. And it shouldn't. Sending many blessings your way to find the best path for you! (((( <3 ))))

DLM said...

Even having the idea at this point in my life is perhaps an act of madness; I honestly do not know. We'll start with some education. Then ... figure something out.

At bottom, all logistics aside, the question really comes down to: how many people are going to want to read the novel of Clovis I? It still probably is not enough to make this necessary. One factor is that, if I did this, I still *would* want to make a little money off of it. That will cost me.

So. Yeah.

I'm an idiot ... probably.

Lilac Shoshani said...

Diane, I think that people would want to read your book if they knew it existed… So I think that it's more about good marketing than anything else.

DLM said...

Hi, Lilac! The question is whether enough people would want to read it for it to be worthwhile. Self-pub is an investment, and not just of time and effort - and I'm a secretary, on my own. I don't have the wherewithal to do this if it doesn't very literally pay off.

The idea is REALLY new, so it's still time to keep it at baby steps. But I'm grateful for your encouragement!

Jeff said...

I've self-published two books--the translation of the 15th-century Middle Scots romance about Charlemagne, and the gargoyle-poem book--and I've found it an often disheartening slog. The first one I did on a whim, and it finds a few readers a year; the second one is selling four years in only because the poems are based on a specific place that has a gift shop that keeps the book in stock. Because of a doofy mistake on my part--paying money to print up proofs at too many steps in the design process--I'm currently around $20 in the red on the poetry book when I should be about $80 in the black.

I love the possibilities of self-publishing, but it seems to me that to do it profitably, an author has to have the persistence and thick skin of a good sales rep. (I am not one of those folks.) It's a really hard time for an independent voice to be heard, and it can be depressing to see tiny sales figures and know that even some of the friends who warmly congratulated you clearly didn't buy a copy themselves.

But here's a contrary anecdote: a couple years ago, a friend of mine self-published a lovely novel set in 19th-century Norway. She hustled like crazy to get the book (and herself, as a speaker or panelist) into Norwegian-American museums and festivals, and she appears to have found a nice (if not huge) readership. Her example heartened me and offers, perhaps, a lesson: books that can be sold through an existing network of sites, events, and interest groups have a huge advantage.

I'm not one to give advice, but my hope is that these anecdotes can provide you with a few additional data points. I'll be curious to see what you choose to do!

DLM said...

You've put you finger on a number of the issues I think could either make this a good thing for me, or make this a disaster. Soooo yeah. I'm just as grateful for realism as I am for enthusiasm!