Friday, April 16, 2021

a year of self publishing

I've been working this week on preliminary design for the next book project, which is my collection of midwest gothic awesomeness, dark country.  Over the past couple of years, I've finished an ungodly amount of full-length manuscripts (well, it's just 4, but it feels ungodly when they are sitting quietly unpublished.) I decided this year, since I don't have any book releases on the immediate horizon, and it had been a year since Black Lawrence released sex & violence, that I might as well get them out in the world.  It's been a learning curve--and something altogether different than publishing zines or chapbooks, which I am used to. A full-length book is just so much more unruly than a shorter book. More editing, more proofing, more design hits and misses.  And also, the after work of actually getting it in the hands of readers and getting any sort of blip on the promotion side. It feels hard with anything I write and put out there, but especially something like a full-length collection. 

I've spoken before on my reasons for self-publishing this series of books--mostly that my current publisher passed on a couple of them during reading periods (and obviously, they can't publish everything I write, cause yo, I write a lot.) I'm not feeling like sending to other contests and reading periods is really something I want or have resources to do.  I am also aware of the space I take up as a mid-career, already reasonably well-published author when there are so many other emerging writers out there who could have those opportunities. (I think this sometimes when I'm on the self-pity train, the why not me? train, but really sometimes, things like publishing luck seem really capricious and obviously skewed toward the privileged--whether it's age or gender or ethnicity.) We should all take up less space. Or at best, try to make room through our endeavors. But you also have to balance this with a desire to find your readers and thrive as a creative. 

Of course, there is a lot of uncertainty when you don't have someone--and editor, a publisher, backing you up.  Lots of doubts that you're not just putting more crap into the world.   Other people who probably think your work is crap.  But one thing I hope I've gained as I get older is not so much blatant overconfidence (which is totally true sometimes) , but moreso an ability to discern what is good, what is crap, what's worth launching into the world, and what should just stay safely on my computer for awhile or needs more work.  I also know how to put a book together now, more than I ever did.  Have even been able to help other authors with their through manuscript consultations.  Consultations which actually have taught me as much as I've helped the other author (hopefully I may have just muddied the waters).

So I find myself with a handful of unpublished projects, an ability to make them publishable, and a small audience that (the most awesome thing!) wants to read them.  I was hesitant before, but if covid has taught us anything, it's that certain things that used to matter, don't really all that much anymore. Or matter differently now.  The expense, which at the time was covered by some reading income, and in the future, stimulus funds wasn't all that prohibitive if you do al your own design, use POD small batches (less if you choose to sell through something like Amazon or the B&N site).  Also, that we have no idea how long we have in the world, so what the hell...

All of that is to say that dark country is coming.most likely in July if all goes well on the final edits and interior design front (margins, my friend, are a bitch when the format varies as much as mine does from section to section). feed, which was a longer time coming turned out to be a delicious little book, so I hope this one will as well. More soon...

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