Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Indy publishing for dummies, part 1- Why?

As many of my regular readers know, my first book, (and soon my second book as well) was self-published. As a writer, I often am amazed at how easy the process of getting a book out on shelves has become in my lifetime. When I was first trying to be a writer (long time ago... Think Reagan administration...) the options for an independent author trying to make his voice heard were few and costly. I would often hear tales, particularly at sci-fi conventions, about authors going through the "vanity press" process and the results of their independent forays into publishing. Invariably, they were cautionary tales of thousands of dollars spent, with only a garage full of unsold books to show for it.

Publishing independently, I had often been told, was the kiss of death to any writer's career. After all, if 'real' publishers had no interest in your work, then surely your work must in fact suck... That's why you had to pay to get your name in print, and the only reason you did that is because you're an egomaniac.

Except of course, that none of that is true. I would think that there are a good deal of fantastic writers out there that have simply never found an audience. Editors and publishers are only human, after all... And there acceptance is purely based on their own tastes. For instance, I love the works of Clive Cussler, but not many people I know do... I think his brand of adventure writing is a bit of an acquired taste. Had his first publisher not seen the potential in his writing, I may never have read any of his stuff, and that would be tragic.

A lot of times in the publishing world, brilliant work gets passed over for an easy sell. If something is hard to categorize (sci-fi comedy anyone?) or a bit odd in its bearing, it gets passed over for stuff that obviously fits in a section at the local Barnes and Noble. It's not really hard to see why this is... New writers are an unknown quantity. New writers in experimental/weird genres doubly so. Every publisher is only as good as its hottest writer. In short, hot, easily sellable writer= hot, profitable book= hot profitable publisher.

Of course, the hotness of a writer has nothing to do with their looks, because several of my fellow struggling writers would be household names by now if it did. What can I say? I hang with some very good looking people.

So, the struggling writer is left with a question. Do I toil away in obscurity, Banging my head against publishers doors until I burst through like Jack Nicholson in 'the Shining', or do I put my work out there and try to sell it myself?

For me, the choice was obvious... I have known for a long time that being a writer won't make me rich, but a story untold strikes me as a very tragic thing. After trying halfheartedly to get my first novel published, I made an investment in myself and self published. It was the second smartest thing I ever did, right behind marrying Cheri.

The fact is that self publishing has never been easier, or a better way for an independent author to be heard. This is largely due to the way technology is changing how we read. The biggest risk you face in the endeavor is to your own ego.

I am currently working on bringing my next book to market, and over the next few weeks, I'll detail the ups and downs involved for those that are curious about such things. I hope y'all will find it entertaining, at least... And if the next book crashes and burns, there should be some really awesome dark comedy there somewhere.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Why I don't do fantasy football leagues....

I hate fantasy football. There, I said it. It's not something I'm especially proud of, because I love Football. (note the capital 'F', people...) Nothing beats watching your favorite team beat their rivals into submission by ramming into each other like drunken goats. I love the strategy involved in Football, I love the watered down beer and bland hot dogs at the Superdome, I love the smell of a freshly mowed gridiron, and I love screaming at the television when the quarterback throws an interception.

What I hate is sports statistics.

As a result, there is a good deal about modern day sports coverage that piss me right the fuck off. I don't watch ESPN, I don't read the sports pages, I only go to NFL.com if it's during a game and I don't have access to a TV, and even then, I don't really care about the yards rushing, yards passing, yards spent pinching cheerleaders, or anything else... Is the team winning? Did they do it with style? Great!

I have hated sports statistics for a very long time... I remember vividly in grade school, while all of my classmates were ga-ga over baseball cards, I was the kid who didn't see the point behind them. You couldn't play a game with them, the art was sub-par, and the little piece of pink plastic masquerading as gum that each pack came with sucked. I'll stick with collecting Star Wars cards, thank you. RBI's? Scuse me, but you spelled 'RIBs' wrong...

Fantasy football is the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. I love my friends that enjoy it, but I absolutely hate the thing. Every year, I have friends that try to goad me into participating. They say things like "you're just chicken" and "it's just another RPG! You play those all the time!" To that I say, "have you actually ever gamed with me?"

When I game, I do so as an exercise in improv. I get into character, and burst forth upon the story with reckless abandon of common sense, the GM's wishes, the dice, and any goddamn ability modifiers. If I'm gonna fantasize, I'm gonna really get into it... I always wanted to be a super hero, a maniacal despot, an insane scientist, and a bard, so it makes sense to me.

I can honestly say I never wanted to work in the front office of an NFL franchise. It might be someone's fantasy, but it sure ain't mine.