If everything goes as planned, in a few months I’ll be the proud author of the self-published collection of flash fiction, A Man of Few Words. I’ve been working on the collection off and on for a couple years, but I really worked on it last year to get it ready. Two weeks ago I sent out a mass email to friends asking for people to read my rough draft looking for typos and stuff like that. I gave them not quite two months to read through it and get back to me. I figured I would use that time to figure out the self-publishing bit. I’m using CreateSpace and I have to say it’s pretty easy, although there are a few things that bug me a little. But I think my problems are just unfamiliarity with the system; I’m betting that once you go through it once or twice it makes perfect sense. Anyway, I think I’m about as far along as I can go without having the final, final draft. Now, I won’t start on the final, final draft until I hear back from my friends, which means I have about a month where there isn’t much I can do on my book. Except trying to get the word out. So in the coming weeks I’ll probably put together a few blogs dealing with my experience.
So, to be begin. Why am I self-publishing? Because I probably couldn’t get them published any other way. As I said it is a collection of fifty flash fiction stories. Now I have had a few stories published, but never in a big name magazine. I don’t have a novel to my name, or big awards. (The one award I did win – for my first professionally published story – I think only ran two or three times before fading away to obscurity.) Why would a professional publisher publish my package of pithy prose? Seriously? I don’t believe myself to be the next Hemingway or O. Henry. I see my stories as the type that would be published after an author has several novels out as a collection of their “early work.” So why don’t I get my ass moving and get a couple novels out? It’s a bitch. Meanwhile, I have all these stories taking up space in my filing cabinet. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could do something with them?
And I’m not ruling out professional publishers for my novels for when I do finish them. In fact, I see this book (as well as a few others I’m planning on self-publishing) as helping me work up to the professional level. One – I’m learning what it takes to put a book together. From what I’ve learned during the process of getting A Man of Few Words together, I’m planning on doing things a little differently on my next books. (I’ve already started putting together stuff for my next three books: two story collections and a poetry chapbook. I’m working on them together and hope to have them out all next year.) Two – Hopefully, as more people are exposed to my writing, I’ll start gathering a following. Having a group of people who will be excited when I announce “My next book will be a novel published by X” will make my negotiations with X a little smoother. And Three- Speaking of X, over the years I’ve heard several stories of the publishing world by various authors. The one general idea that has come across is, if two authors go to a publisher and the first goes, “Here is the great American novel,” and dumps a manuscript on the desk while the second goes, “Here is an okay novel, and here is my plan on how to sell it,” the publisher will mostly likely go with the second author. Publishers are in the business of selling books and anything the author does to help that along is looked upon favorably. By self-publishing these books, I’ll be giving my marketing a test drive.
In a few years when I finish my novel None of Them Knew the Color of the Sky and I start looking for a publisher, I won’t be like countless others who just show up with a manuscript and a dream. I’ll be the one going, “Here’s my okay novel, and with my experiences from my self-published books, this is my plan for selling it.”