Brian Drake recently gave us his dollars-and-sense version of self-publishing. This time around, he takes a second look at the true rewards of self-publishing, which have nothing to do with money…
THE REWARDS OF SELF-PUBLISHING
When we last spoke about the costs of self-publishing, even I had to admit what I described didn't look very good. But after that piece went to press, I started thinking. I may not have any large monetary reward for my DIY publishing efforts, but I have something a little more valuable – to me, anyway. I wanted to do this follow-up to show you that something similar can happen to you, too.
I wouldn't be writing these articles for Paul if it hadn't been for my self-publishing, because that's how we met. He featured Justified Sins on his blog, made some nice remarks about Bullet for One on Amazon, and we then connected through Facebook. All of that was a prelude to his invitation to write a Fight Card story, which I did entitled Copper Mountain Champ (What? You missed it? It's a good one, check it out).
Then there's James Reasoner. You should know who he is. When I started my blog back in 2010, he commented frequently, which was how we connected. He allowed me to do some guest posts on his blog to promote my books, and when he and Stephen Mertz (you should also know who he is) started the Blaze! western series, I sent James a note asking if I could audition. He told me to send my idea... and maybe. Well, he and Mertz liked my idea, and now I have a book due to them. It's also my first western. I've wanted to write a western for the longest time, and now I'll be edited by two writers who have been doing western since before I was born. You can't buy that kind of education.
Let's go back to Paul for a moment. Paul knows a guy named Tommy Hancock, editor and publisher of Pro Se Productions. You should really know who he is. Together they created some fresh pulp characters for an anthology and invited writers to do the stories. Tommy invited me based on what Paul told him. Somehow, I guess, I hadn't embarrassed myself to much along the way. I was happy to write Never Enough Corpses for Pulse Fiction Vol. 1 (You missed that too? We really need to have a talk).
None of these connections would have happened without the calling cards of my self-publishing projects. Years ago, like every writer starting out, I couldn't get any attention with my work. What magazines still existed back in the '90s didn't want hard-boiled. The web and crime zines laughed at me. And Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine sent not only rejection letters, but eventually a restraining order – I framed it.
After a few more years of typing quietly and not sending anything out, I decided to do it myself, and now I have all these new friends. What they've done is given a young writer (well, not so young anymore) what every young writer wants to hear – We think you're good enough to work with us. And Paul and James in particular know posers when they see them. Somehow I passed muster.
Somehow you might, too. Once your work is out there, you never know who will see it. That's why it's important your writing be as professional as possible. Since getting a Kindle recently, I've gone crazy downloading free books, trying to find the hot new talent, and sampling some of the self-publishing heroes to see if I can learn anything from them. I've deleted nine out of ten books because the writing screams amateur – even those writers look at as heroes of self-publishing have problems. I once disagreed with Lee Goldberg and his Tsunami of Crap theory, but now I think he has a point.
Everything I needed to learn, I learned from all the dead authors I’ve been reading for decades. This isn't amateur hour. If you're going to do this, you need to know your craft, and where commas go. Ignoring basic grammar out of some misguided attempt at style only makes you look like a fool, but somehow in our meme and text message centered world, the basics don’t matter.
That’s the bright side to the not-so-pretty-picture I painted in my other article, and I hope you get something from it. Self-publishing is worth it, but you may find the rewards come in a different manner than you were expecting.
And the Corvette is still for sale.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian Drake lives in California and hopes to one day do an interview where all of his answers somehow incorporate Taylor Swift lyrics. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
ON THE WEBBRIAN DRAKE AT LARGE