I Done Did Something Good

Making time to write when you’re going to school, being a daddy-o, and living up to the title of Best Husband in the Northern Hemisphere is not easy peasy lemon squeezy. But I do it — in the twenty minutes before a class, the half hour before bed, and while I’m waiting at the doctor’s office. I seriously bring my laptop every damn where.

And it’s paid off.

After a few years of busting my hump whenever I could I finally have a couple of projects worth a crap. I finished a first draft of one book — it actually sucks but that’s normal for my first drafts — and I’m pretty darn close to wrapping up with rewriting my first YA book. The YA book is the one I’m stoked on, mostly because after reading big portions of it I kinda like it.

So the downside: the book is a teensy bit on the long side. As in 120,000 words sort of long. I don’t know if that’s too long to get the damn thing picked up and agent, but I don’t really care, mostly because I have been thinking a lot about this whole self-publishing game. I mean, I really really really like the idea of getting picked up by a publishing house, but I’ve been starting to ask myself why I care so much. The answer, at least the most honest answer, is that I feel like getting published traditionally would legitimize me as a writer. The thing is, that’s a bunch of bullspit. What I really want is for people to read my writing and like it. If that happens then it really doesn’t matter if it happens traditionally or not.

Scott Sigler Sez It’s Good: Indie Publishing for Aspiring Authors

Greetings, my interwebby minions! How are things out in the intertubes? Sweet ass sweet, I hope.

So just recently I took the advice of a friend of mine and started subscribing to podcasts from the folks at Nerdist.com. What is this “Nerdist” I speak of? Well, friend, Nerdist is a sweet site created by Chris Hardwick, this dude who hosted some dating show on MTV. I’m not so stoked on MTV, but seeing as there’s twenty-thousand pounds of all-things-nerd packed into the site (twenty thousand is actually rounding down, FYI) I can forgive his music television shenanigans.

The bit from Nerdist I’m most stoked about is this super-duper dope interview of author and indie publishing master, Scott Sigler! Hardwick asks the tough questions, by which I mean the questions I’m interested in, about how Sigler got his start. Apparently Mr. Sigler went from unsuccessfully shopping his books around for about nine years before finally giving the publishing industry the finger and releasing his books as serialized podcasts. Since then the guy has become a NYT best seller and has had a story optioned to be a movie. Pretty successful so far, right?

Despite all these bitchin’ little facts about how he’s succeeded in the indie publishing world, I was way more stoked on his advice for aspiring authors. Here’s what he says in an interview from his website, which is pretty much the same thing that he said in the interview:

“There is no blueprint, things are changing too fast. The first piece of advice is get used to the fact that you are in the minor leagues, there is clearly a minor-league system, and in the minors you have to give your content away to build up a following. Be prepared to do that for three to five years before you have enough people to make a difference. It will not happen overnight for you, nor do you want it to, because audience feedback will help shape your storytelling style.

The second piece of advice is that the days of ‘just writing’ are gone. You may hear the old guard talk about how a writer should write, and how they ‘let other people handle those other things.’ Well, that was because these guys signed their publishing deals fifteen, twenty years ago, when there weren’t 500 channels, when there weren’t metroplexes, when video games were nothing like they are today and the internet was basically non-existent. People have so many entertainment choices now, you have to fight for your customers’ time. You have to market AND write, you have to be a businessperson AND an entertainer.

Third and final bit of advice, understand the fact that readers want to connect with the author. Embrace social media, reply to emails, to blog comments, interact with them whenever possible. Don’t be an arrogant douchebag. You are not important. Your work is not important. What’s important is giving people value for the time they spend with their works — write great stories, and be accessible. The days of the author’s ivory tower are long gone.”

Holy crap, I love this for so many reasons. Sometimes I think writers forget that in this age of social media, everyone is accessible. Got a Twitter account? Then you better get used to people directing questions and comments straight at you. Look at /r/ama and you’ll see tons of celebrities willingly answering direct questions from normal schmoes out here in the interwebs because they know that interacting with fans gives you, like, at least twenty-five XP for a fandom level-up.

So my question to all you webby minions is whether you’re down with the indie publishing scene or are you holding out for a “real” book deal? I’m a little on the fence about this thing, mostly because I don’t know which is going to be the best in the long run. I feel like legacy publishers would just as soon give me a kick in the ding-dong as give me some sweet publishing deal, so why not get out there and do this thing on my own?

Oh yeah, and here’s those links again for Nerdist and Scott Sigler. Both of them are wicked awesome and guaranteed to make you better looking.