Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Brave New World

As I wake up to a life in the brave new world of self-publishing, I have contradictory emotions.  The ‘snobby’ writer part of me that has me rolling my eyes at the very idea of self-publishing (combined with the holier than thou comments that leave my lips) and the revelation that although it is different, maybe it isn’t about admitting defeat, as I first believed.
It is by no means easy.  I kid you not; I have worked my arse off.  It isn’t just a matter of uploading a book, throwing yourself on the sofa and pouring a glass of champagne because you’re there.  Hell, not even close.
I have spent a couple of months sitting on the beach and watching the tides; searching out the rips.  The life guard standing at the flags is the Squeeze who has sent me a million websites on self-published authors and how they got there.
There was no way was I going to stick my toe in the water until I knew where the sharks were lurking…  And there is a whole world of preparation you must do prior to approaching the water’s edge.  Finding the wetsuit that fits; or in this case, the ePublisher.  Trying on the floaties – how you market it.  Slapping on the sunscreen – attending to the documentation that means you get taxed 5% as opposed to 30%.  It was a never ending surf patrol really.
And now I’m done.  I’m up there.  I’m out there, in the world.  What did I learn..?
Well I learned the negatives.   Self-publishing means you don’t have the luxury of working with an editor so your work goes live after edits and reedits, but by no one other than you; and let’s face it, we often don’t see our own mistakes (in many things).
I also learnt that you can upload it, but if no one knows who you are or where you are, then it will sit for a month without anyone buying it.  Well your family will buy it, but that doesn’t count; they have to!  They even have to go in and leave you good reviews, even if most of them haven't bothered to read it.
But there were positives on this curve of learning also.  I did my own artwork for the cover; and liked it.  It represented the story exactly; and who else could design a cover to represent the story, other than the writer?  Had I been picked up by a publisher, there wasn’t a hope in hell I’d have had any say in the cover or a million other things.
The marketing side of it I covered this weekend – and don’t think that won’t be an evolution process.  I’ve been twittering my head off; weird really since I don’t quite get Twitter and don’t actually see the point in it but we do what we must!  And if I move forward on Twitter, then I can selfishly keep my Facebook account separate.  Unlike the rest of the world, I don’t count “friends” on Facebook.  I cull.  I cull a lot.  I’ve got it locked down tight and restricted to real friends and family; only.
But then I saw a comment go by on twitter about putting your book up for free for a weekend and that the publicity, the free downloads – sometimes helps with the sales.  I’m testing that this weekend.  So far, it is sitting on 460 downloads for the weekend.  This is about 450 more than I have had in the whole time it has been up…
When I had a quick look yesterday and saw 330 people had downloaded it, I restarted explorer; there must be a mistake.  Then I restarted the router and the laptop – and by then, it was 337 – and it kept creeping up.
Yeah, yeah, it’s free.  Who cares, it was never about the money anyhow.  It's never been about the money.
And it has moved the Squeeze that one step closer to getting something up; even he has begun to lose that ‘holier than thou’ mindset…
The world has changed.  Changed for us all.   Changed for the publisher that didn’t bother to get back to me for over a year and the agent who sent me a “dear author” letter – like I wasn’t worth the time it took to actually look up my name.
The wheel has turned and it will be interesting to see where it goes.
And as for the Squeeze; isn’t this what partnership is all about?  He watches my back.  I watch his.  He sends me anything he thinks I should enter; I do the same.  If either of us made it, the other would be beside themselves with happiness (and probably spending the first royalty check).
Yes.  That is how it should be.  Perhaps the stars were not aligned with husband number three, but if nothing else, he had support down pat.  I never lived the 'arctic' Squeeze life.
He has often said if he had to dedicate a book to the Harridan, the dedication would read “not one day…”   Which I assume means that not one day, did she support him.  Pity she didn’t as he really is extremely talented and a far better writer than I am.  He once told me about his collecting a prize for a competition (in fact I think if was runner up for the Vogel or something equally as cool).  He hovered behind a curtain, nervously awaiting his name to be called. 
What he should have felt at that moment was a jittery, surreal excitement.  Instead, what he felt was a wave of Harridan's projected thoughts; standing somewhere behind him.  Not an altruistic bone in her body.  Not wiping at the tears with pride as it should be; no, she stood, just this hulking figure, emitting a single self-absorbed chant:  “what about me… what about me…. When is it MY TIME!”
His words had scared me at the time; such a picture it had evoked.

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