Saturday, June 01, 2013

Some Conversations Best Left Unrecorded.

Self published works account for over thirty seven percent of books sold in the U.S. That, my friends, is a sizable chunk. Unfortunately, just as one cannot necessarily count on the quality of corporate tomes dominating the New York Times bestsellers list, grabbing a self-published work is sometimes a frightening experience. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of great self-published works out there, especially in a land where getting published is more and more challenging, but self-publishing also means anyone can be published.

"I just published my third book," he says.


"Yeah. It's the third part of a tetrology dealing with elves who are advanced technologically so that they fight one another with giant robots powered by magic. It's sort of steampunk meets Vampire Diaries meets Fast and Furious meets Cthulhu. It's Stephanie Meyers meets R.R. Martin meets Nicholas Spark's second cousin."


"Two thousand words," another author blurts out. She's hiding behind a lawn ornament. Apparently shouting out how many words she has just finished in a day is her form of self-affirmation.

The other writer is still staring at me. He has his tablet out and has clicked on a jpeg of the cover of the third part of his tetrology. It's a photograph of the writer wearing "Spock" ears and standing beside an abandoned car with a super-soaker in his hands. Very "apocalyptic."

"When you read it, the grammar is authentic," he says.


"Oh yeah. I mean, it's not anal. I don't let the grammar get in the way of the storytelling."

"At least you know yourself."

"The other books didn't sell real well," he said. "But this time I'm going to market the heck out of it. Hit the social networks, hang out at conventions. Writing is about staking a claim, you know, and holding onto it. It's about being true to yourself. People want to read something they can relate to, something they might have written themselves."

"Good thing you wrote it first," I say.

"Witches are going to be hot this fall," he shares. His tone is conspiratorial.

He shuts down his tablet and answers the siren call of Attention Deficit Disorder. The woman behind the lawn ornament takes off as well, pausing as she passes me, and whispers, "I'm still writing about werewolves. Gray ones."

"Keep on writin'," I offer.

She does a little heron dance and takes off.


Charles Gramlich said...

A lot of truth in this humor.

Joe Ponepinto said...

Guess that writer was into "elf" publishing. :-)

The democracy of self-publishing threatens to create mob rule. We seem to be approaching a breaking point of sorts. Traditional publishing serves very narrow interests; self-publishing basically serves the writer's interests. Is there a way to serve a wider audience? Anyone can publish, but how can readers determine what's worth reading? Will we see a new set of literary gatekeepers emerge?

I sure hope so.

vernied said...

In a timespan of two weeks, our township newspaper printed two big stories--one on the front page-- about local authors who published books recently. Neither story mentioned who the publisher was, so I assume they were both self-published. Meanwhile, at least two other local authors I know had their work accepted and published in well-established national magazines, without a word getting out about it. My thought is that most people---even the journalist who wrote the stories--don't know there can be a real difference.

Sidney said...

Witches hot in the fall, just in time for Halloween!

Daniel J. Hogan said...

I tell folks, if I could go back, I wouldn't have self-published right out of the gate. But, what's done is done. I have a new book finished, but don't plan on self-publishing this time around.

Stewart Sternberg said...

The point being made is that the democracy of self publishing isn't necessarily all positive. Furthermore, there are sharks out there waiting to pounce on would be writers who don't know better. Sometimes we ned someone to say "No, this is terrible." Daniel Hogan, I'm going to be self publishing soon, but I have safeguards around me to keep me from putting out something which would be an embarrassment.