Still In The Game

If you’re an indie writer, and a self-publisher, then you are no doubt familiar with the ups and downs of getting your work into the hands of the masses. You already know about all those long sleepless nights spent hunched over your keyboard, meticulously honing a passage of narrative, or getting that bit of dialogue just right.

But writing the novels is just half of the battle. In fact, to be honest, it’s even less than that.

Sure, we can write the novel, but what about after that? All the conversions and changes we have to make to get it formatted just right; all the worry that we’ve missed something: does our Table of Contents work when we hit the hyperlink to jump to chapter eight? All this and more is just a part of the process us writers have to go through every time we try to get a novel “out there.”

But again, that’s just a small portion of the battle. After the book cover gets made, the chapters finally work, and the contents have been uploaded to that place that will publish your work into eContent, there is still the grueling task of getting it to make you a profit.

This is where the game is. This is our battlefield.

If you are a new writer and you are expecting your first novel to get you famous, or to launch you to the status of, James Patterson; then you have either been deluded, or you are inhaling something odd. Okay, sure, there have been a few people that have struck-it-rich their first time out there in the publishing world. But those are not the norm, and they are too few and far between to list as a rule of any sort.

The harsh truth is that you are more than likely not going to earn a dime for your first novel. At least… not right away.

There are a thousand blogs and websites that will try and convince you that all you have to do is write in this category, or that type of self-help thing, and the money will start rolling in, and all you have to do is hold open a big bag with the words “CASH” written on the side to catch it all.

That is stupid. You are way too smart for that. I hope.

Since October of last year my first novel has generated me a meager twenty or thirty dollars. That’s all. My second novel… about the same. Now, does that mean that I suck at writing, and I need to throw my laptop away? Go off somewhere and cry and ponder whether I should even be doing this?

I hope not. I’d love to be a famous writer one day. I’d love to have a million dollar check come in every few weeks. I’d love to have one of my books turned into a film, and then sit back somewhere in the Cayman Islands and sip fruity drinks and take my time pondering what I’ll write next; but that’s not reality. That’s a dream. A good dream, and one I won’t give up on… but a dream, never the less.

If you are a writer and you love the craft, and you just want your novels in print, or out there for the masses, then you aren’t in it for the money. Again, we want to be paid for our services. Writing is a job, and we should get paid for it. But that can’t be one’s only motivation. Remember, that just like you want to be a writer, and have your book published, there are a million others out there that want the same thing. Their elbows are pretty big at the table, and unless you elbow-in, and get serious about your junk, you will get zero exposure.

Which brings me to the point I’ve been trying to make.

If you want to be known; if you want to be read, have others buy your books; then you need exposure. It takes time for your name to get passed around. One person may read your book, and like it, and yet never tell another person about it. Someone else may sing your praises from the rooftops. Your Goodreads page is a fine place to start, but again, it’s a site that is geared for writers to push and shove their product in your face, and it’s just as cutthroat as any place else.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use Goodreads, or Twitter, or have a Facebook… of course you should. Because the more places you go with your book in tow, the more chances there are for others to hear about you, and when people hear about you, you get exposure.

So what if your first or second book hasn’t performed as well as you’d expected. Unless it’s getting tons of negative feedback, then you are not failing as a writer. And, it will take time before you’ve gotten that one sale that you didn’t lobby for. My advise is to stay in the game. Don’t get discouraged, keep your chin up, and just keep writing.

The Bane of Indie Publishing

The Epic of Gilgamesh, the most popular indie book in history

One of the things that I’ve been recently encountering is a certain amount of hostility for Indie publishers; and by that I mean, independent authors. Some of the noise that is being made revolves around the sole fact that indie books are not professionally published, ergo, they cannot be considered, “real books.”

Some have criticized the advent of the indie publishing phase as a death-blow to either the publishing industry as a whole; good literature as a whole; and a means for people to make a fast buck off of swindling others into buying their fifteen page self-help book on how to make money writing and independently publishing a book.

To the first two of those, I can only say, “Phem!” The written word has been around long before the modern critics were a cosmic speck in sands of time; and I have no doubt that the written word will exist in some form long after they are gone. As for the last part of their complaint, I can see their point; writers that write a book just to mislead others into buying their swill are nothing more than scoundrels and crooks. But I’d like to take a look at this practice of writing and examine some of the claims that indie writing is wrong, and what constitutes a book.

To do this, we have to take a look at a person called, Gilgamesh. He was a King of Uruk in ancient Mesopotamia (2700BC), whose exploits were written about on tablets about 600 BC, by a man called Sin-Leqi-Unninni; and have since been the subject of many revisions, rewrites and has pretty much fallen into the accumulated annals of antiquity. The Epic of Gilgamesh as a story is probably in the top five oldest written books ever. Granted, the story wasn’t written on paper, it probably didn’t have a proofreader, it was not edited for correctness, and it didn’t get taken from publishing house to publishing house in an attempt to get a sale. But no student of literature, mythology, or ancient writing can say they’ve never heard the name of Gilgamesh.

One of the things that I’d like to point out to anyone reading this article, and is a book reader—not a writer—is that the definition of a book has really been altered in the past decade, now, you don’t need physical pages for something to be considered a book. Digital media has been accused of harming the physical media industry, and yet, I don’t see any decline in printed paperbacks and hardbacks whenever I wander into a Barnes & Noble book store.

Having said that, I’d like to address some issues. Continue reading