Am I Published? Self-Publishing in The Face of the Digital Age
For years, and years, publishing my own short stories, and full-length novels was always a dream. I blogged since I was in high-school, back when Blogger was really nothing more than a blurb and bio-logging wasn’t something really known to me. Still, I started by taking the journalistic approach, and doing really terrible book reviews. Some of which make me cringe to-this-day, but seeing the evolution of the writer I am now in my mid-thirties; they mostly bring a squinting smile to my face. Poetry was my passion: a more literary approach in a truncated formatting of structure made it easy to rattle off a multitude of different feelings, themes, and a genuine attempt at being a literary versifier. I wanted my works to be tumultuous to traverse without perhaps a handy dictionary, or sound like something a first-year English major braggart would deliver in class day-one. Meaning, it was bloated, pesky language that wasn’t fluid in motion; but rather dodgy, and stumbling about trying to fit in with the royals, but not to the same pedigree.
Publishing a novel was all I ever dreamed of doing as a child, a life-long dream that I cannot believe would ever leave my being. I had always thought to look towards traditional publications to give myself some merit, and I had sought after many publishers. From Dell magazines for Asimov’s Science Fiction, to local newspapers having a monthly column in the lifestyles section while still in high-school. In-truth, I think that whatever the passion, whatever the desire, there is always a way to come up from failure, and find that success was there all along...as you will shortly read.
Whilst I had dabbled with newspaper writing, self-publishing, blogging consistently for years-on-end, I was never formally published the way I always dreamed of being. Until one-day I wrote a book based on the needs of a publishing house. They sought young-adult books in the guise of education fiction, this one book in-particular would focus on the process of hybridizing roses. The press was a small press, which make up about 80% of the market, and most are usually out of business within a few years. The ones that stay relevant are the ones that take the business in directions most others didn’t even dare to go, and the differential allows for unique voices in the writing community to be heard, with little fear of their repertoire being undermined by one of the larger conglomerates that bulk up the publishing market.
The book I wrote went to one of the editors that worked for the said publisher. They had personally called me back, saying they had enjoyed the sample chapters (chapters 1-5) that I sent out, and wanted to read the rest of my manuscript. Now I was very close to the end, nearly done with the work, which was encroaching on two-hundred thousand words! Now at the time, even I knew that this was an extremely high number of words, and I didn’t have the wherewithal at the time to even think of editing it down. This was the mindset of a twenty-something wannabe author, and the sound of someone interested was enough for me to just ship it off...in the worst-case fashion I could, and hope to hear back: “it was perfect! Already published! And by-the-way, Paul, you’ve got a 5 book contract unit 2025!” (This was all happening about 2011)
Instead, reality hit me, and hit me hard. They liked it, but it was way too long, and it was way too much for them to edit and so I was asked to go with an outside editor, and that would cost me potentially thousands. Back then, even with a bustling internet market, there was still few options, like Fiverr for those who need a fairly decent edit on a budget, without the expensive add-ons of professional fees. So instead, I tried a hand at it myself, and became weary of the dream of publishing slipping through my grasp. Eventually the person who was interested in my project had left to pursue a career they dreamed of, and the individual taking over my account decided that she wasn’t as thrilled with the story, and didn’t have nearly as much time to dedicate. Which I understood, if they’re not as passionate about the hook of the novel as someone else who is all-in, you quickly discover that the market can be treacherous with the wrong people at the helm. Still, I was given a chance, but it felt like my passion and ambition was let-down by the lackluster treatment I was now receiving.
So I didn’t publish that book, and it sucked. I mean it really, really sucked, because I was close to the prize, and it was gone. That can make a young person, which I was very young, and under-matured for the time, to give up all hope on the dream of a traditional publication. So I was without a publisher, without a literary agent, and now I was just barely functioning to continue writing, because I felt that was my only shot….but it turned out not to be my only option.
Years later, I turned to self-publishing, and published my first book, Lolita’s Explosive. It was hard, gritty, and sort of the antithesis of what I had tried to angle towards earlier with the YA (Young Adult) novel. It had been read quite a bit, more than I ever expected, and it lit a fire under me to keep trying, and so, the passion returned. Even if it was by my own merit.
So am I a published author? No, not traditionally, but have I published a book? As of October 2020, I have self- published three, and that now makes me strive to publish more. Besides books, I had the opportunity to publish several newspapers, and magazine articles over the years, and have been freelancing since the early 2000s. If I were to give advice to the unsung youth looking to publish as well? Time is your greatest ally: read a lot, get lost in the magic of worlds from those great artists of the past and present. Learn what makes you enthralled with a tale, and take it to heart. Try to find freelance work throughout the internet. One of the best resources for writing comes from NaNoWriMo’s official website nanowrimo.org. NaNoWriMo is an acronym for National Novel Writing Month.
Seek out beta readers, and never be afraid to send out your work to potential publishing houses. I highly recommend Alpha Book Publishers, as their resources are a tantamount to the desire to help anyone see the dream of publication. Professional writing is a business, and to learn the business, trying new and unique ideas will be beneficial to helping you become a published author. Publishing should always be a potential outcome, but writing, and loving what you write is job one.