There are many ‘how-to’s’ out there about book publishing; so I won’t gum up the pipeline. As I am enjoying the feeling of my book of short stories about to hit distribution, there are a few things about the process that were humbling, exciting and shit stirring all in one.
First of all, my book of stories was created a few years back in graduate school and added to yearly. Many of the stories have been workshopped raw and edited by the best. Still, the amount of blue call-out boxes in the MS word document my editor sent me was humbling at a criminal level. The feeling of a good editor at your back is something I can’t emphasize enough. I came to the conclusion that if I had worked up the courage over the years to put my stories out there and risk embarrassment, then the writing should be well showered when it does embarrass me.
And with that note, I just have to promote my editor here. Di Freeze was amazing—Thorough and advanced in her skills; she completely loves her work. She really cares for the writer. I had to hold myself back from asking her all kinds of questions: “Should I put a foreward on the book? How do I handle reviews and acknowledgements? Are there known issues for naming people in the acknowledgements section?” But alas, she was there to correct typos and punctuation and help me clarify sentence structure, not to be my book therapist.
The next thing on my mind as I considered publishing for real with full distribution was there couldn’t be anything halfway about it. Creating a book poses juicy, thoughtful, moral ambiguities about everything you put into print. So I had to face the fact that, although, I’d spent a lot of time with these stories (I almost wrote children, Freudian slip), I write differently today. So it wasn’t just a commitment for this book. It was a commitment to write and publish books in general. This book is the platform, the time in my life when I fell in love with writing fiction. And since then I’ve written stories that are visually charged as well (film and illustrated novels). So I would need to find media channels for the stories that support the characters and story arcs best. Having the support of Creative Convergence helped me think through the strategic aspect of content creation—open up my imagination to the variety of media possibilities and make that commitment. I now have a year of scheduled activity to take my current stories to the next level: Animation, web series, picture books, short films, possibly a stage play etc.
I needed to think through what I want mainstreamed and what I want published through my company Sweet Bee Books. I really hadn’t anticipated how exciting this was going to get. All the possibilities of publishing. Not to mention animating my picture books on the iPad. As a former software experience designer I’m seeing a fusion of books and software. I anticipate there won’t be any lines in the near future. It’s all about grabbing the story and expressing it in the most powerful way using the technologies (including print) available to us.
The pages really started to fly once I saw the endless possibilities.
And that’s a good place to end this post. A year ago, I only saw two avenues for getting my work into mainstream. A producer would option one of my scripts or a publisher would publish one of books. Now I see lots of options. Some indie, some mainstream, some ‘i-world’ centered (teaching myself new tools) and some in the oral tradition of simply telling a story. The economic model centers around authors marketing and selling their books more than ever these days. So in a way I see all my work as independent because the work to sell it is on me.
I look at my stories like they are people finding their way; they have different voices and need different vehicles. Some have the personality that is perfect for a VW bug. Others want to walk and need me to buy the perfect walking shoes and hats. Others will have the red carpet and no other. Stories need listeners and as their ‘bitch’ I need to be their first listener. I should make a t-shirt, I work for my characters – they pay me with countless nights of insomnia but really good coffee and a happy heart.