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Vast Waters - Self Publishing as an Option February 2019

To acquire the pedigree of publishing mainstream or to go it on your own, that is the question that  many new writers have to decide once their manuscript is ready for market. Novelists and writers in general all have to jump the span of the missing bridges between us, our agents, publicists and publishers. It has been this way for a really long time and it hasn't been a fair relationship for most of it. You see publishers and agents and other places that you would like to try to enter your work into the marketplace, have the upper hand. They hold most of if not all of the cards to our futures as writers. Its a very competetive business for us and equally for those who represent us. The publishers these days are under a great deal of pressure to earn marginal profits to keep their business viable, and as writers and authors, we can understand this. However, there have been increasingly difficult criteria for writers and authors to submit their work that makes it virtually impossible to find a way to "market their wares" to the public. Enter the world of "self publishing". For those who would hold this to be a stigma of inferior work or a case of "I just want to see it in print". Think again, the reality is that there are many outlets now for authors to consider while trying to bring their books to market, and most of them allow for a much larger slice of the profit pie! Self-publishing is an interesting and rewarding process in which the author, as publisher, has complete control over every aspect of the production of the book. Some authors turn to self-publishing when they cannot find a trade publisher who is interested in their manuscript. Trade publishers are often reluctant to publish a book directed outside their accustomed markets.

While speculative fiction genre publishers have a tradition of accepting manuscripts directly from authors. This is a genre that has a market of readers who think in terms of possibilities, and who don't, as a rule, like to follow the mainstream. These readers also have their own networks, which means a speculative fiction novel can achieve fame strictly through word-of-mouth. Other genres might believe they have no options available but to go to a mainstream big lable publishing house or press. It simply isn't true. While it is true that an author will have to become much more involved in the process of advertising and promoting themselves and their books, this is becoming a requirement of the big publishing houses acceptance criteria anyways. So why not consider self publishing one of your books? I mean why would an author in today's publishing world be content to wait for months just to hear back from a publisher, when they can have their book published online in just a few hours? I once dreamed of walking into a bookstore and seeing my books, but if we read the fine print you will see that in most cases you will have to give up control of your book for a very, very small percentage (10 - 15 %) of the profits (not to mention all creative control of the story and cover art) and say in how and where its distributed. This might be an overly simplistic way of viewing the mainstream versus the self publishing marketplace, and the truth is that there are good and bad reasons for going with either.

One or two things to keep in mind is that as a self published author, you may not be elligible for many of the industry's awards and prise money contests, such as the Griffin Award. For many new authors there is nothing better than name recognition. Publishing your short stories in award winning magazines and your first few novels through major publishers is a great way to separate the exceptional writers from the mountain of slush that has buried the self-publishing scene. It's also a great reality check for new writers who might not be quite as polished as they think. Online publishing has become a vast ocean that can be difficult to navigate. It can be really hard to make a ripple these days even if you are an A-List author. To my way of thinking, if you can navigate the world of mainstream publishing, and find a press that will consider your work, you should do it. I set up my own company to publish the books that I write, but its a lot of work to do on your own, and if I am given the choice, I would much prefer to go through a company full of savvy experts who know how to get my book into the readers hands in the most direct and efficient manner. While I may be trading a bunch of potential profit for the convenience of not having to do all of the work myself, in the early stages of any writers career, it sure can't hurt to learn the ropes by dealing with people who have been in the industry for years. At some point I may decide that a book that has been overlooked by the big publishing houses, and the medium publishing houses, still deserves a place on the shelves of my favorite bookstore or ebook store. Its an option that writers and authors didn't have a few years ago, but now we as writers can still have an outlet if we really want to go that route and try casting our fishing lines and nets upon the vast waters of the self publishing ocean! Its good to have options.

Mythology is Inspiration February 2019

My inspiration for plot writing often comes from an inaccurate perception of real or imagined mythologies. The storys that have been told in the past are often interesting, but lack adequate "relative substance" that todays readers would find relevent to themselves or their lives. The goal for most writers is to play upon the interests of the readers in present day, (because they are the ones who buy our books); and to give them a connection to one or more of the charaters in our storylines. Ancient mythology stories did the exact same thing. they were being written and acted out in ancient plays, with the intention of engaging the spectaor / reader with pure fantastical impact or to relate the authors embellished perspective to the masses. Sometimes this was for political purpose sometimes it was to relay an even older story of some heroic or tragic feat. Regardless whether modern fiction writers want to admit it or not, we are doing the exact same thing. We often play upon these much older mythologies and legends and modify them to suit our stories and their plot requirements. Even Cerberus the hell- hound and guard dog of the Underworld comes from the root Indo-European word kerberos which evolved into the Greek word kerberos which got changed to cerberus when it went from Greek to Latin "kerberos" means spotted that's right Hades Lord of the dead literally named his pet dog Spot. If you think mythology never gets modified or updated or recreated, just remember Hades' pet dog, "Spot".