Friday, January 24, 2014
Between the Bindings with Mike Meyer
Mike and I both belong to the Action/Adventure Aficionado Group on Goodreads and I love to read the things that he shares on there. I gotta tell you - he is a fun and interesting guy. When I asked him what made him decide to become a writer, he told me that he's now a retired English professor and when his doctor asked him what he planned on doing now that he's not working, among his list of things was to write. His doctor was really excited about this because writing is a "wonderfully healthy activity." I agree.
Unpublished writers often ask me how I happened to publish five novels in such a short time. The answer is simple, and yet there is some complexity to it. I decided to self-publish my own novels. I wanted my work to be read right away. If I had gone the traditional publishing route, my books would still be somewhere along the lengthy publishing route, lying there not yet ready to be put into readers’ hands. It takes months, sometimes years, to get one’s work published the traditional way. I am so delighted that Amazon Direct Publishing came onto the scene, followed by the NOOK for Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. My books have already sold thousands of copies since their birth at their new home at Amazon. And in that short time, my books have made me an international author. Copies of them have already been bought in England, Germany, France, Australia, South Africa, and Singapore, in addition to wide distribution throughout the United States and Canada. None of this would have been possible, in such a short time, if I had chosen to pursue the traditional publishing route.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, the highly acclaimed international author, often complained of having to change parts of his books, especially endings, to satisfy his publishers. He is not, by far, the only author who has had to adhere to someone else’s editing in order to be published. In my case, the case of a self-published novelist on Amazon Kindle and the Nook, I have complete control over every single aspect of my book, every word, every punctuation mark, and even to the appearance of the cover. It is my choice, and mine alone, how to begin and how to end my own book. I have complete control over all of my characters’ actions, thoughts, and words. In a nutshell, as a self-published author, I am the true writer of my own work. No editor has had a hand in changing even a single word of my original work. The book is mine, and mine alone, and it is presented to the reading public exactly as I want it to be, nothing changed to satisfy a publisher’s whim.
However, being in complete control of one’s own work means that enormous time needs to be spent polishing the final product so that it can compete effectively in the marketplace. Errors of any kind can be blamed on no one but one’s own self. It is lonely out there, all by yourself, with no editors and no marketing department to provide assistance. In other words, there is a downside to self-publishing, but, in the end, when you hold your own book in your hands, it is well worth all the time and hard work that has gone into it.
The best advice I can give an aspiring self-published author is this: you must be thick-skinned because not everyone will like your books. In fact, you need to be prepared to receive some negative views, at times, even some that might be downright hostile, from people you will never meet. It happens to all writers. It is the nature of the writing game. Attacks on your writing will take place, and they will be posted on book sites just as poor reviews of restaurants and such are posted on Yelp. When you receive such a review, even though it might seem very hard to do, ignore it. Never respond. Let it be. Instead, cherish the positive reviews you receive. You will find yourself moved at times by the great things readers have to say about your work. Feel good that you have pleased someone with your writing. Take pride in this. If you have put forth the work required, you will receive some reviews that will move you. Then move forward. You know that you cannot please everyone. All artists, be they film makers, song writers, or painters, etc., know this. Accept this fact and then keep on writing because that is what writers do: they write.
And, by all means, make your writing an enjoyable activity. Look forward to interacting with your characters as you put their story down on paper because soon enough your books go off to live on their own. Have fun! Life is too short to do otherwise.
Great advice, Mike. Thanks. And I never looked at self-publishing that way - being able to be the one to decide whether something stays or goes - as opposed to having a publisher who tells you what you can and cannot keep. Even though self-publishing takes more work, it seems to me like it's more worth it. But then, that's my opinion.
Until next time y'all ....