Up until about a year ago the long suffering self-publishing author,defending their decision to go it alone, rather than succumb to the media mill of big publishing houses, would have been forced to fall back on the argument that, “Mark Twain did it.”
Or to point out the long list of distinguished authors whose classics grace thousands of libraries, from Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley to T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway and D.H. Lawrence; Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Edgar Allen Poe and Leo Tolstoi. Heck, even Beatrix Potter, Rudyard Kipling and Louis L’Amour backed their own work.
But as a struggling writer, falling back on a strategy that puts your unheard-of work in the same category as, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” and, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” can come across more than a little conceited, even to yourself.
Things have changed in the last year. There are a new rash of successful self-published authors around for us new starters to not only point at as examples, but to read their books and blogs, and learn from.
John Locke, Amanda Hocking, Joe Konrath, for example. OK, so Konrath’s Jack Daniels series was published by Hyperion before he turned his back on traditional publishing. John Locke had a successful business career before deciding to self-publish his Donovan Creed series. Amanda Hocking is young, edgy and cool. And enormously hard working.
But here’s the thing. Konrath’s first novel, “Whiskey Sour,” was described as a, “cliché-ridden first novel [that] should find a wide audience among less discriminating suspense fans,” by Publisher’s Weekly. He’s currently on 12 published books and counting.
Locke freely admits he doesn’t take his writing too seriously, and doesn’t expect his readers to either. That hasn’t prevented every book he’s ever written becoming an Amazon Bestseller. Nor did it stop him becoming the first ever self-published author, and only the 8th in history, to sell over 1 million ebooks on the Kindle platform.
Hocking credits the success of her young adult paranormal novels, (complete with trolls, zombies and of course vampires) more to her self-promotional attempts and the popularity of the genre than to anything else. Mostly her self promotional efforts. Didn’t stop her landing a book deal with St Martin’s, turning down Amazon because they wanted exclusive ebook rights.
Now, I’m not young cool and egdy. My step kids call me Squishy, for crying out loud, (As in, “I shall call you Squishy, and you shall be my friend.” Thanks, Nemo.) I don’t have a string of books published by a traditional publishing house, and I opened a florist shop on the eve of the worst financial crisis in my lifetime.
I make a meagre living writing web pages for clients, and write fiction in my spare time, though. Which should tell you something about how much I love writing, if nothing else. And I know how to Tweet, answer emails and make new friends.
So this is me, throwing my “cap in the ring.” I may never be a John Locke, a Joe Konrath or an Amanda Hocking, but I’m not going away. I’m not selling out to a traditional publisher, I’m not going to confine myself to a single genre, and I’m not going to pack in doing the one thing I enjoy most – telling stories. I couldn’t. All those characters screaming in my head would drive me insane.