A Ship Between Two Ports – Ramblings For Self-Published Authors. 1) You Learn Who Your Friends Are

For awhile my blog has dealt with the Iowa background of my novel The Northeast Quarter. As time went on, I felt that some of the experiences I encountered in writing, publishing and selling the book were something I wanted to explore as well. I have decided to pitch these next few articles to other self-published authors as well as anyone who considers writing a novel and going the self-publishing route.

I wrote The Northeast Quarter over a six year period. I had been a playwright for several years and this was my first novel.  Since I am of retirement age, one could say I got off to a late start.  I had considered the traditional route – submitting a manuscript to an agent who, depending on his/her acceptance of me as a client, would then begin to submit the manuscript to a publisher, etc etc etc. This process is somewhat similar to dealing with literary managers in theatrical submissions.  The process of submission and replies can take alot of time, and to be blunt, I don’t have that many years left.  So I decided to step around all this and publish the work myself.  In this regard, Wheatmark Books of Tucson has been most helpful.

Since publishing the book is only the first step, I realized there were other considerations – that is, getting the book noticed. For me, these considerations were huge financial sacrifices – even financial risks. But I decided to damn the torpedoes and go for it.

What I had heard about (and then began to experience myself) is there are people out there who resent self-published authors.  This resentment can manifest itself by passive resistance (stores which inform you they don’t carry self-published works) to outright hostility to the self-published author. Why this resentment?  We self-published authors aren’t hurting anybody.  One person suggested to me that it was jealousy.  To that I ask, “Jealous of what?”  Certainly not of the book, but perhaps of the daring to take the risk and make the sacrifices.  Of course, this is couched in platitudes of fairness, integrity and so on.

It is here that you begin to learn who your friends are.  It also here that you begin the journey of leaving one set of friends and acquaintances and making new ones.

Concerning The Old Guard:  One person, who I will call Samuel, said,  “Mr Harris.  Mr Harris. It’s not fair to other people who submit their works through traditional channels.  Self-publishing is a back door entry and you shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.”  Let’s look at Samuel for a moment. Obviously an armchair moralist – well spoken and proper – but hollow in his outrage. Samuel is always dreaming of writing a novel, but can’t seem to get around to it.  It’s much easier to sit on the sidelines and criticize than it is to take the risk himself. Will Samuel write his book?  Who knows?   Frankly, I don’t care.

When you get down to it, all artists are competitive and, if you want to succeed, you do whatever you have to do to get your work out there. It’s part of the picture. If you fret over what your neighbor is doing, it saps your energy and gets in the way of your own life road.  Just ask Samuel.

With my book I had a dream. I figured that if I left this world tomorrow, I would leave something behind me. My statue as it were.  It’s no best seller by any means, but I made my dream come true. I can reach out and touch it. The dream has a heartbeat. Was it worth all the effort and is it worth it now?  Absolutely.

If any of you reading this are dreaming of writing a book, start doing it as soon as possible. If you’re in the middle of a book and haven’t gotten around to finishing it, complete the job.  Start the journey.  It will be quite an adventure and you will be so glad you did.

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