Indie publishing: A direction in which I was pushed. And so I jumped
by Steven O’Connor
I am one of millions of readers who also write. No one’s counted, but I’m quite sure that’s how many we are. We’re like the countless music lovers the world over who also play an instrument or sing (to varying degrees of success). Our pens and pencils, our scraps of paper, our notebooks (paper-based and electronic) and our keyboards – these are our musical instruments. We are everywhere and we stretch from those who are happy to simply bash out something and immediately publish it – in a wild breeze of confidence – to those who toil hard to hone what they produce, in the desire to create something that will be seen as unique and memorable. Most of us who work hard to improve our craft sit somewhere around the center of those two points.
For me, writing is the completion of a circle. We are all consumers. We consume food. We consume art and music. We consume stories. Some of us continuously consume stories! Movies. Books. News. Even gossip. But we are creators too. To me, it feels wrong not to want to also produce something, if I can. (And hope it is good enough for others to enjoy. That would be nice too.)
I do slip into sleep more easily at night when I feel I have created something that day. It’s very satisfying. And I know others feel this way too. I meet them every day on Twitter. Writers like me. While having an audience is not an essential element to the creative process, it still feels good to know others might be interested in your creation. And the opportunity has never been greater to put our creative works out there and invite others to come and see. The publishing industry has split open and millions are pouring in. Myself included.
I am also grateful that I had the opportunity to traditionally publish – however brief. EleMental was written on a first-generation laptop back when laptops were as heavy as milk crates, and long before ebooks were a reality. It took one year to write the novel but nearly ten years to get it published, even though the manuscript had won a national scholarship award early on in the proceedings. Does that seem like a long time? It’s a common story.
I present to you now, in one fast paragraph, my one-and-only experience of traditional publishing…
EleMental was published by Pier 9/Murdoch Books (one of Australia’s major publishers) in 2010. The staff publisher who bought my book subsequently left Pier 9, the company dropped its young adult fiction list, which had been that staff publisher’s baby, and the whole publishing house went on to be bought out by Allen and Unwin. The end.
As delightful as the people were that I met during that brief experience, perhaps you will understand why I say after nearly ten years of trying to get there, it felt a bit of a letdown. Hence, like countless other writers, indie writing has been a direction in which I feel I have been pushed. And so I jumped.
Self-publishing is no longer a dirty word. At least it isn’t, if you do it properly, never letting go of quality. Indie writing is a valid, exciting new route to publishing – one that can also include traditional publishing in the future if that option opens up for you and you want to take it (sometimes called the hybrid approach – sounds like a car, or a rosebush).
The indie approach can be exhausting as you have to steer all of your own promotion. Imagine taking that task on immediately after self-publishing your book, with all of the work it entails. And it can be lonely when you know of no one else – outside of the virtual arena – also pursuing this route (it’s yet to catch on in Australia in a big way, unlike the UK and the US).
But it has one very distinct advantage: you are in control. I am still new to indie-publishing, but my experience of the traditional publishing process has given me an appreciation of the importance of control, one I would not let go off lightly if ever I found myself traditionally publishing again.
Another significant advantage of indie publishing is speed. Don’t get me wrong, you should never take shortcuts with your writing just because you’re indie publishing. You must be as slow as you need to be. But traditional publishing, that’s another story, it is so slow. Apart from it taking a long time to break into traditional publishing, it also takes a long time for your manuscript to shuffle through the publishing process.
I would love to have published EleMental soon after I’d finished it, even a year or so later. I absolutely believe the book still depicts a fun, tongue-in-cheek future. But some aspects are no longer as interesting as I would have liked. Video gaming, on which the futuristic plot is based, has come a long way since I wrote ‘The End’ after the last line (I don’t really write that). When I finished the final draft, the world did not have consoles like the Wii or the Xbox, or online console video gaming, or the iPad. That last one is particularly irking, as both EleMental and its follow-up, MonuMental, feature something very like an iPad – called a Zeepad. I’ve a hard time convincing people I came up with my Zeepad before iPads emerged to rule the world (for the time being).
However, the professional social work influence that I have in my writing remains as pertinent as ever, sadly – the human condition does not date like technology, even if we wished some aspects did, such as addictive behavior.
All writing is a lonely business. But there is a flourishing indie writing community on the internet with numerous collectives. I belong to the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), a global collective based centrally in London, but (thanks to the internet) present everywhere.
I still have a lot to learn about the indie approach, particularly around marketing and business management, neither of which comes naturally to me, but also around social media. And there always seems to be something new to learn about information technology! To be honest, it never seems to end. But I have become far more aware of how to step up and be counted amongst the countless other indie writers out there in the world. I meet with many of them every day through Goodreads, through Twitter (especially through twitter), through Facebook, and through numerous other social media avenues. The important thing is to remember why you are there in the first place. You have enjoyed creating something and now you’re jumping into indie publishing to say to the world, Come and see what I’ve made. I hope you like it.
Don’t forget to drop by sometime and say hi. I’m always around and love to chat – on twitter, on my website, on Goodreads, on Facebook…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/StevenWriting (@StevenWriting)
StevenWriting website: http://stevenoconnorwriting.com/
Little Readings: http://stevenoconnorwriting.com/little-readings/
Steven O’Connor writes young adult fiction with a futuristic bent. His writing is influenced by Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Blade Runner, Dr Who, and just about every sci-fi film and TV show you could possibly think of. His EleMental and MonuMental ebooks are available through Amazon.
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Genre – Young Adult / Science Fiction
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