RSS

Category Archives: Self-publishing

Heroes & Villains & other brouhahhah

banner1-3

Have I told you all how much I love blog tours? Once upon time, authors had to actually get dressed (okay, so I do have *some* clothes on, don’t worry) and leave the house to interact with readers—unless those readers were stalkers, but that is a villainous topic for another day. Now, we just go on tour virtually, linking up with the blogs of other “Authorpreneurs” who have had the nous to self-publish their works. That creates a huge network of authors and readers and maximises our opportunities for getting our books read and your opportunities for getting cool free stuff—all while we’re sitting at home wearing whatever the hell we like and hammering out our next masterpiece while sucking down a bowl of ramen noodles (the author dietary supplement of choice, for financial reasons).

Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in Martin Bolton’s stupendous Heroes and Villains Blog Hop, running from 3-6 May 2013 on twenty-eight awesome author blogs. As well as writing a piece on the villains in Cruxim and how I came to make them so dastardly, I’m also giving away stacks of great swag, including books, an Amazon gift card, and jewellery (which you can check out down there *insert downward arrows dammit* at the bottom of the post). Better yet, every one of the 28 fantasy, science fiction and historical fiction authors on the tour is also giving away fabulous prizes for readers, so make sure you hop along to all of the blogs listed at the end of this post, check out their books, and enter their competitions too.

So here goes … my little post filling you in on the evil workings of my own noggin.

The Characters you Love to Hate

As an editor by trade, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told authors that they have weak villains.  When writing villains, authors have to ensure that not only is their badass just as memorable as the protagonist, but that his or her motivations are just as clear and grounded in aspects of the villain’s past and his or her personal and psychological development. In real life, sometimes it seems that we see people (hopefully from behind the safety or a TV screen, or simply in a newspaper, rather than in real life) who seem to be just straight-out plain evil monsters. We’ve all seen the news stories that made us shudder at the depths of human depravity. Sometimes, it seems like there is no rhyme or reason to such cruelty, but dig a little deeper and there is often a profile to such killers: a number of factors (not causes, let’s not make excuses for it) that might lead to the kind of evil that serial killers or psychopaths indulge in.

If you’re an author like me, you’re probably a little bit fascinated by the psychology behind killers. What makes them do it? How can they live with themselves? How did they get away with it? When I was writing Cruxim, I wanted Amedeo to be faced with villains who weren’t just out to get him for the hell of it, but who actually had chips in the game. It would have been easy for my Vampire villain, Beltran, to just hate Amedeo because he is a Cruxim—after all, Cruxim eat Vampires. I’m pretty sure gazelles are not too fond of lions: same dynamic. But I wanted Beltran, who is also the primary Villain in the ongoing saga and appears in later novels, to have a real reason to hate Amedeo aside from the sheer circumstance of the supernatural food chain.

That reason became Joslyn—primarily Beltran’s love for the mortal-turned-vampire, and her enduring love for Amedeo, even as he forsakes her. I drilled down to what I thought were the major psychological issues Beltran had to deal with (and again, readers will find out more about some of Beltran’s background issues in book II in the series, Creche, which I hope to have out by July. So if you don’t want to read a very slight *spoiler* look away now). Abandoned by his father as a young boy, Beltran turned his feelings of helplessness into a craving for power. At first, it was just the power to defend himself and those he loved, such as his sister Evedra. But in his longing for it, power became a kind of lust for him. When he became a vampire and finally had that power, he was unable to control either the power or the lust. It manifested as a need to dominate others, particularly women, physically. But when he meets Joslyn, he falls in love with her innocence. He hates Amedeo not only because Ame truly represents the kind of pure, honorable power Beltran once craved, but also because Joslyn loves Amedeo for that sense of honor and hates Beltran for the perverted way he abuses his own power.

The other major villain in Cruxim is Dr. Claus Gandler, who I’ve found has given many readers shivers even more than Beltran. When I was stripping down his character to the bare bones (which is not a bad analogy for Gandler, given his predilection for torture and amputation), I revisited the biographies of some of the most heinous real-life villains in human history. Seriously, you couldn’t make up the kind of horrors these men inflicted on innocents. I wish I could scrub some of the things I read while researching Gandler’s character right out of my head. Among these beasts was Josef Mengele, the abhorrent, seriously depraved physician of the Nazi’s Auschwitz concentration camp, a man known as the Angel of Death. Not only did he personally order jews and those of other ethnic minorities to the gas chambers, Mengele also conducted appalling experiments into heredity upon twins and on others he considered abnormalities of nature, such as those who suffered from dwarfism or heredity conditions. Not even children were spared Mengele’s terrors. I also spent some time studying the hateful practice of travelling “freak shows” in the 18th and 19th centuries. As an Aussie author, I’d read a bit about them before, because unfortunately many Australian Aborigines were taken to Europe and exploited at such shows and “world fairs”, incorrectly portrayed as cannibals or imbecile savages.

I also considered how in real life those who come into close conflict with certain afflictions sometimes come to hate others who suffer from them, and I posited how Gandler might feel if he had a child who suffered from a “freakish” disorder. What if his only son, Fritz, was killed directly as a result of having that disorder: a rare blood condition in which he produced too much blood, making him a target for vampires? Would Dr Gandler understand other “freaks” (and I use the inverted commas because I recognise that these were simply unlucky people who suffered from medical conditions), or would he hate them and use them to try to get to the bottom of vampirism, would he exploit them for his own ends? I decided to make him hate the other “freaks” he collects for all that they represent—his inability to protect his son Fritz, his hatred of hereditary imperfections. That hatred of freaks, and his desire to understand how to correct/avoid such conditions and how to end Vampirism, leads to the horrible acts of torture and “experiments” he carries out. It is only when faced with his own imminent death that Gandler makes the decision which will eventually lead to his downfall. To my mind, Gandler is a particularly evil character because of the clinical way he goes about collecting and dissecting his freaks. His is a controlled, careful kind of insanity, and sometimes that is more dangerous than all-out “batshit crazy” (a phrase which I suppose applies to Beltran in some ways).

So did I achieve what I wanted to do with these villains? Yes and no. In retrospect, I wish I had spent more time letting Amedeo vanquish his foes. But in the heat of a battle, there is not really time to stop and crow over victories, however large or small; all of that must come after, and will to a certain extent in Creche. And as for Beltran … well, you’ll all just have to tune in to the next episode to see what happens to Beltran’s perverted power, and to find out how he gained such a power in the first place.

You’ve hung in this far, AWESOME. So, here’s what am I giving away?

Cruxim_cover_small* Two signed, personally addressed paperback copies of Cruxim.

* Three ebook copies of Cruxim (which the lucky recipients can have signed at http://www.authorgraph.com/authors/Authorandeditor).JW270-1

* A $10 Amazon gift card.

* The adorable sterling silver cross below right (a little larger than in the pic, which is not to scale).654459837_o

* And one of the beautiful angel wing bellybutton rings (far right, also not to scale.)

All you have to do is like my page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KarinCox.Author and leave a message on the Heroes and Villains Blog Hop thread there to tell me which prize you’re most after.
OR, Follow me on twitter @Authorandeditor.com and either tweet about the #villainsandheroes blog hop or RT my tweet about the #villainsandheroes blog hop.
Leave a message on the comments below, to let me know you have entered. Every one of these actions constitutes one entry for each of the prizes. So if you like my page, tweet, and comment, that is three entries. The more entries, the better your chances to win.

Also, make SURE you pop past the blogs of these other 27 incredible indie-published authors, like their pages and enter their competitions too! And lastly, thanks again for joining me. I hope you’ve enjoyed the hop.

Nyki Blatchely
Martin Bolton
Mike Cooley

Eleni Constantine
Joanne Hall

Jolea M Harrison
Tinney Sue Heath
K. Scott Lewis
Paula Lofting
Liz Long
Peter Lukes
Mark McClelland
M.Edward McNally
Sue Millard
Rhiannon Douglas
Ginger Myrick
David Pilling
Kim Rendfeld
TL Smith
Tara West
Keith Yatsuhashi

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Busy bees and other stuff

Those of you who regularly stop by may have noticed that I haven’t been seen around these parts for a while. “Is she pregnant again?” some of you may be asking. “Has she gone missing in action?” “Is she a recent casualty in the war of words between indies and legacy published authors?” The answer to all of these questions is “No.” Although I have to admit to a certain amount of “hmmmpffff” about the first one, as my daughter is starting to settle into the comfortable notion that she might be an only child. We shall see about that!

The real reason for my absence has been the establishment of the Indie Review Tracker website and my involvement in the excellent Indie Chicks Cafe site (blogging once a month or so), as well as a huge pile of editorial tasks I’m working through so I can get back to writing my own WiPs.

I’ve mentioned the idea of Indie Review Tracker on her before, but haven’t, as yet had a chance to formally announce that the site is up and running over at www.indiereviewtracker.com

With more than 200 reviewers, book bloggers, advertisers (both free and paid) and indie service providers (editors, graphic artists, designers and formatters) listed, and more being added by the day, I hope it will be a useful resource for self-published authors and help them easily find reviewers or bloggers, by genre, to help them promote.

It sure was a lot of work getting it up and running, and it is a lot of work to maintain (sourcing content, liaison with my awesome guest bloggers, finding and adding sites). but I *think* it will be worth it in the end. I also invite indie authors, reviewers and bloggers (and practically anyone associated with the indie writing community) to submit their blog, website or author page for free using the Submit Your Site form. So if you would like to be part of it, please do. You can also showcase five-star reviews of fellow indies for free on the IRT Showcase page. You can also submit an idea for a guest post, should you wish. So far, in one month, we’ve had more than 4000 visitors. So please do join in and use the free opportunities to promote your work. The more the merrier.

As loyal followers of this blog (which I will continue to post on sporadically, depending on my content demands for the IRT blog), I’d like to offer you $10 off an annual membership, which means you’ll pay just $4.95 for one year’s membership. You can quickly and easily search for promotional opportunities, create a to-do list of promotional tasks, and be active in the forums. To receive the special offer, just type in the coupon code IRTeasy when you register.

And if nothing else, be sure to pop on over and check out the great content from yours truly and some excellent guest bloggers and indie success stories. www.indiereviewtracker.com

Cheers

Karin

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Two surveys highlight the “satisfaction divide” between indie and trade-published authors

There’s been a lot written about the so-called divide between trade-published authors and indie, or self-published, authors over the blogosphere, and I’m afraid to say I’m about to add to the reams of virtual paper devoted to it. Two recently published surveys combine to underscore some of the key problems traditional publishing houses, or the Big Six (as these large publishing conglomerates are commonly known) might face when it comes to hanging on to their authors. They also draw stark contrast between the satisfaction levels of self-published and trade-published authors.

The first survey, the Taleist Self-publishing Survey, truthfully titled Not a Gold Rush, collated the results of 1007 self-published authors and asked about practices, attitudes, pricing, sales, and their satisfaction with their publishing efforts (Catherine Ryan Howard does a good break-down over on Catherine, Caffeinated).

The second—conducted by Harry Bingham’s editorial consultancy The Writers’ Workshop (with the help of the Society of Authors, The Crime Writers Association and The Romantic Novelists Association)—was based on the answers of 321 trade-published authors, asking them how they felt about publishers’ editing, cover art, and marketing. It also asked several telling questions about whether those authors would stick with their current publishers, and found that 40% of the respondents said they would move to a new house if “a reputable publisher offered [the] same advance”!

All in all, the Writers’ Workshop survey appeared to suggest that trade-published authors are happy with the editorial and creative input of publishers, but that the marketing and communication aspects seemed to leave a lot to be desired, and the way of the future, for the majority of authors, appears to be self-publishing (although for some, there was only a grudging acceptance of that).

The Wash-up of the Writer’s Workshop Survey

The participants’ biggest complaint seemed to be about marketing (and, unsurprisingly, indies like to moan about marketing, too). It seems from the study, that one of the major drawcards of going with a trade publisher—the marketing and publicity—may have been taken off the table. The marketing may be marginal or less than an author would do themselves as an indie (although given the lack of consultation and communication, it may be true that authors were simply unaware of marketing efforts). Only 19.7% of respondents said they were closely consulted about their publisher’s marketing plans, and 33.0% (the most respondents for that question) said “there was no attempt at consultation.” Worse still, in another marketing question 38.4% of respondents answered the question “Did you feel the eventual marketing campaign made good use of your skills, knowledge, passion, contacts and digital presence?” with “What marketing campaign? I never noticed one!” And a paltry 14% said they were “very happy” with their publisher’s marketing campaign.

Long lead times were problematic (46.6% rating it as the aspect of trade publishing they most disliked) as were “inadequate payments” (45.8%) and “insufficient consultation over the process (“42.4%)—something that self-publishers certainly can’t complain about! Communication was also a point of contention for some, with a combined 47% of respondents saying that communication was either “poor” or “tailed off” following publication of their book. 45.8% of participants were never even asked for feedback about their experience by the publishing house, answering “Nope. No one ever asked me what I thought” and guidance about the process at large was also on the slim side, which disgruntled 36.7% of participants.

And, in case you were wondering: the all-hallowed advance, for 40.1% of respondents, was not a multimillion dollar affair but a meager $5000.

When respondents were asked whether they might consider “cutting out a publisher altogether” to self-publish on Amazon, a whopping 74% appeared to be in favor of it (although, of those, 37.4% would be hesitant and saw it as a serious step to take). That left just 26% committed to having “a publisher to guide [them].” Dark days indeed. I, for one, can see why. If all the big publishers really have to offer is editorial, jacket and design influence, which savvy freelancers are now providing at reasonable rates to self-publishers, and a $5000 advance on royalties with little or limited marketing or input to back up sales, then they’re in trouble, big trouble.

In contrast, 44% of the self-published authors who participated in the Taleist survey said they found their self-publishing venture successful (with a further 51% admitting it was too soon to make that judgment). Only 5% were dissatisfied enough to call their venture “unsuccessful.” More telling, when the Taleist participants were asked, “Knowing what you know now, would you self-publish again?” an overwhelming 90% responded, “Yes, definitely” (no jumping ship here) and 93% of participants also said they would recommend self-publishing to other authors.

For me, it represents a real shift in author thinking. Where once the benchmark for author happiness was getting a trade publishing deal and holding a print book in your hand, it now appears that doing it yourself, and selling books online or in print, may be more likely to keep the smile on your face.

I have also been conducting a survey of my own on indie publishing promotional practices, and you can participate here. So far, more than 117 people have responded, but I would love more. The results will be published free in future on a new promotional website that is currently in production, and will help guide relevant content on that site. With just ten quick multiple choice questions, it takes minimal time to complete, and I’d welcome your feedback. Who knows maybe we can add more data that will help other authors decide which route they think will benefit them the most?

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Promotion and other evils

Image

Cage Life has had a facelift

Promotion is a funny thing, isn’t it? So time consuming. So draining. And yet, so very necessary for indie authors. I tallied up my total sales last night from the time I first put Cage Life out there on display as a kind of e-publishing experiment. With three books for sale, less than a year after my “experiment,” I have managed to place more than 29,000 books in the hands of readers. To be fair, the vast majority of those (easily 90%) were giveaways, with Growth having always been free and both Cage Life and Hey, Little Sister enjoying good free runs (either as part of Select or pre-select in the FREE boom days).

While that may look like a lot of books, my earnings have been less spectacular, hovering at just over $120. Part of that is because of the freebies, part is that I priced at $0.99 for a long time before I decided to trial a higher price, and part of it is that I’m far from selling the number I would like to be shifting each month. Had I released a novel by now, I might see more of an upswing in sales. It is difficult, I think, to sustain interest in short stories, poetry and children’s books, and the only solution is to ensure I take more time out for me to write. But … I have been countering that with consoling myself that if even one percent of those readers return when I next publish a book, that will be 290 readers I might not have attracted before. I’ve also changed Cage Life’s cover a little in an effort to boost sales, and have been busily sending off more review requests. As a result, I’ve received some wonderful reviews this week (which couldn’t have come at a better time, as health issues have made it a tiring, long and emotional week for me). The lovely mother and daughter team over at Parent’s Little Black Book of Books have reviewed both Cage Life and Hey, Little Sister for me and have given both five-stars, which was a fabulous surprise. You can see the review for my children’s book here, and if you write for kids, young adults or adults, I highly advise you to contact Loretta or Karen, who are both extremely quick and professional.

Image

It’s been a tough week, but 5-star reviews for Hey, Little Sister have helped put a smile on my face.

To counter my own little promotional dilemmas, I’ve also been hard at work compiling information for the free review sites ebook (which keeps getting pushed back but should now be a goer for June) and also the Indie Review Tracker Website, which is under production with a web guru at present. It should make it much easier for everyone to find reviewers, relevant forums and facebook pages, advertisement space, indie service providers and a whole lot more … yes, it just keeps getting bigger and better, and I just keep getting tireder and tireder. No matter, it will be well worth it when it comes out and I really hope others see it as a valuable tool that reduces their promotional time and “takes the puzzle out of promoting.” I’m currently looking for authors willing to guest post about their promotional experiences, so if you’re a strong blogger and you have great advice for authors, email me on karinwork@hotmail.com with “Indie Review Tracker Guest Blog” in the title.

The question is: would I have it any other way? The past ten months have been among my busiest ever (not least due to motherhood), and I’ve written more work for me and been more proactive at promoting my books than ever before. I’ve given a lot of thought this past month to what I aim to achieve with self-publishing. It started out as an experiment, and to be honest it still feels like one some days. Sometimes it feels incredible. Sometimes it feels like the goalposts are constantly shifting. Sometimes it feels like a crapshoot. A recent survey I wrote for indies discussing promotion, which you can go and complete here if you like, currently shows that of the more than 100 respondents 86% were either Extremely Satisfied or Moderately Satisfied that they self-published. (Note: All results of the survey will be published on the Indie Review Tracker site as soon as it goes live.) At present, I fall within the Moderately Satisfied crew. I know there is more I can to do to push my level up to Extremely Satisfied (more guest blogging, for instance, paid advertising, and more blogging in general, forging stronger connections, being involved in more indie community initiatives, and writing more books!) and that my promotional efforts will win out in the end, and if they don’t, I also know that books that ten months ago were available only on my computer hard-drive, now grace the libraries of 29,000 ebook readers … and surely that is worth something. 🙂

 

Tags: , , , , ,

And that’s why it’s called fiction

Grab yourself a copy please. Just .99c to help me feed my child!

Yesterday I took another tentative step in the direction of e-book self-publishing and put a collection of two short stories out there into the ether. At present, they’re only on Smashwords and you can check the collection out here. My intention is to put them up on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing too.

One of these stories, the eponymous Cage Life, has been published before under the title Still Life by [untitled] magazine here in Australia. When it was released, published in print in a slim volume with a garish illustrated cover, I passed copies around to several people to inspire them to admire me (it didn’t work!) although several lovely people even coughed up for a copy.

The story is written in first person from the point-of-view of a young wife and mother and, without giving too much away, starts off charting her carefree, drug-taking university years and spirals into tragedy. My intention was to explore the gamut of a woman’s feelings about liberation and love. How often women feel trapped by their own choices, how often we overlook the signs of love and mistake them for something else, and often we inadvertently fail to prioritise the most important things in life, even while simultaneously trying to put everyone and everything else above ourselves. But when the book came out, so many times the reaction from those who don’t know me well—or well enough to realise that I am begrudgingly unmarried (yes, I know! Talk to my hesitant loving partner and baby daddy folks) and my daughter is just 15 weeks old despite the story being written more than two years ago now—is, “It’s so sad. It’s not based on real life is it?”

My answer is, that it is fiction. I made it up. As a writer I am an incurable liar and I make shit up all the time. It’s what I do. So while it is entirely fictitious, it is, of course, based on real life. The events that take place in my character’s life are in part based on some of the experiences I have had. “The Cow” couch in the story, for instance, really did exist. Some of my best ideas were formed perching on its “furry flanks.” But now I get my inspiration the old-fashioned way (read: wine, or insomnia). I did, at some point, have an ex who was a lawyer and I did live in the “Dolls House.”

Having said that, the “crux” of the story, the tragedy that unfolds, thankfully never happened to me or to anyone I know and love, although such tragedies happen to families around the world every day. I suppose the story is a cautionary tale of just how easy it is to lose sight of the important things for just a few seconds in the midst of a busy life. Sometimes I need to remember that. Sometimes we all do. But hopefully it is a lesson none of us ever have to learn in such a painful and pointless way.

As for the second story … well I hope no one ever mistakes me for an 80-year-old!

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Indie publishing: perspectives on abundance

Last night I was all prepared to write today’s blog post about how to use commas effectively. The comma topic was prompted by a discussion on another blog, and I know that these pesky punctuation marks can cause headaches for even professional authors at times, so I figured I would add my two eggs to the mix. However, late last night, or, rather, at 1.24 in the morning to be precise (yes, like the majority of writers, I am an incurable night owl), as I checked for new posts on Indie Writers Unite Facebook page, I had a change of heart and decided to take an entirely different tack today.

Before I begin, let me tell you that I am not a big fan of inspirational, NLP, feel-good or “how to” manuals that deal with the subjects of eternal happiness, staying positive, time-management, success, or acquiring wealth or inner peace a la The Secret.

To me, most smack of slightly self-righteous high-fivin’ marketers turned authors profiteering from stating the bleeding obvious (You are responsible for your own happiness—well, duh!) or snake oil sellers peddling hocus pocus. It’s safe to say that the only “how to” guides on my shelf are about writing, editing and publishing, along with a brick-sized tome on DIY home renovation. That is, I’m a pragmatic, rather sceptical sort who doesn’t really spend too much time dwelling on what “the universe” owes me or might promise me. I am a “go out there and pinch the universe on the bum and see how it reacts” type of gal.

However, many years ago I remember being forced to read something, as part of a publishing/marketing position I held at the time, that dealt with the concept of “abundance”. To be truthful, I can’t even remember the name of the book, but subliminally it must have impressed something upon me because last night it popped into my head.

What struck me—and, let’s face it, it shouldn’t have come as a big surprise given the verb in the name of that facebook page—was the difference in attitude and in altruism between self-published or “indie” authors and traditionally published authors, and how approaching publishing with an attitude of abundance, rather than of paucity, makes a massive difference in author happiness. What I have discovered is that, because anyone can now publish and become an independent author, the mindset and the buzz around self-publishing is largely positive, in contrast with the negativity that has traditionally dogged the trade publishing industry.

Now, I am a trade-published author too (if you “count” non-fiction, children’s/YA books and creative non-fiction, and let me tell you I’ve met some who turn up their literary little noses at these genres) and I’ve met hundreds of delightful, clever and generous published authors in my time in the industry. I’ve edited for many, and I’ve hobnobbed, latte-sipped, champagne-fluted, workshopped and industry-evented with others for more than a decade. Many of these authors repeatedly go out of their way to assist new writers, to act as mentors and to help promote others work, bless them. So let me make it clear that I am in no way casting aspersions on traditionally published authors. However, the problem with traditional publishing, to my mind, is that it has always operated on a platform of exclusivity and elitism. In some ways that can provide a remarkable sense of achievement, which is wonderful for published authors. A feeling of “I’ve arrived” (usually followed by a long and frightening pause then a panic of “where to now, and please point me to the bathroom”).

In the traditionally published world (let’s call it the “scarcity model”) for every manuscript accepted by a big publisher or represented by an agent, hundreds more receive a big fat rejection letter. For every wriggling, squawking, naked newborn author success story hauled screaming from the slushpile, thousands more sank below the sludgy surface without a trace. Every author who was picked up represented one more of the coveted publishing “spots” denied to another author. Every book published was just another demand on a publishing house’s marketing staff. Every single new release became a competitor for shelf space in bookstores, another shark circling in the sea of words. In some circles, anything less than publishing award-winning literary fiction was small fry or didn’t count. “Oh so you publish non-fiction?” Cue eyebrow raise. “You won a short story contest?” Brow wrinkle. “You write for children.” Careful snigger partially concealed by a sip of Chardonnay.

Now perhaps I’m playing up the comparison for the sake of being Devil’s advocate, and, as I said, many trade-published authors, recognising how damn hard it is to get a publishing contract, are lovely, caring, talented and supportive folk. But the thing I’ve noticed about indie publishing is just how perkily encouraging everyone seems to be. “Yeah. Way to go. You can do it!” They chant. I can tell they aren’t just saying it; they really mean it. And what is more, now it is true. You can do it. I can do it. Anyone can do it. Does that lessen the “special” effect—the experience of arrival? That depends on how you look at it.

Let me also qualify this by saying that I am hardly a seasoned indie publisher. Many years ago, when I was a  green willowy sapling of an editor (at least that’s how I like to remember my slimmer 24-year-old self) first trying my hand at freelancing, I helped several authors “self-publish”—a task that involved negotiating printer quotes and contracts, recommending and briefing cover designers, providing editorial services and generally project managing and dodging landmines on behalf of authors wanting to self-publish. I’ve been watching the self-publishing “market” grow for a decade since then, taking the occasional sneak peek at self-published products, noting the emergence of Lulu, Bookpal, Createspace and PoD and then the explosion of independent e-books. And, just this week I uploaded my first self-published book, Growth (a poetry anthology), on smashwords.

Since then, the indie writers I have connected with on twitter, facebook and other sites have been overwhelmingly welcoming and encouraging. Few hold themselves up to be paragons of teeth-grinding hardwork or publishing martyrdom (although there are few bitter and twisted individuals who castigate agents, editors and publishers alike) and they don’t necessarily clothe themselves in the thick skin of those suffering years of patience and rejection. They freely and openly champion the simple courage of putting your work out there—out where its merits alone will determine whether it sells or fails and whether it fullfils publishing dreams or leaves its creator feeling deflated.

It’s a marketplace of sheer abundance. “Come one, come all and the more they merrier,” they chorus, and I for one, find that a very merry proposition indeed. An abundance of words. An abundance of authors making money, however small, out of writing. An abundance of productivity. An abundance of encouragement. I ask you, what’s not to like?