HELLO, MY NAME IS DYANNE A., and I’m a self-published author.
I come by it honestly. My family has a history of print-abuse: both my grandfather and my uncle published their own books. Grandpa Harry wrote an autobiography, Life’s Journey, to edify our family about his odyssey from Russia to the United States, and Uncle Morrie penned Tale of Two Planets, a science fiction novel from which my aunt excised some sex scenes, which could not have been worse than the ones she left in. Over the years, copies of both of these tomes drifted from one dusty pile to another until they landed in my garage. I haven’t been able to toss them, not yet, and especially not now. It might be bad karma since I just published my own book, The Edge of Finalia written by my alter ego, Delores Hawk.
What my relatives did was called vanity publishing, and it carried the stigma of not being worth a real publisher’s time. These days, however, self-publishing no longer bears such a taint, thanks to a succession of fairy tale (but still very rare) stories about authors whose self-published books become runaway best sellers (or, at least, ebook best sellers). Witness Amanda Hocking who self-published a whole bookshelf worth of supernatural suspense novels until St. Martins Press came calling with a $2 million deal. Barry Eisler had published a string of spy novels before he opted for either publishing entirely by himself or in a hybrid agreement with Amazon (Eisler controls the packaging, Amazon the marketing). The great advantage of this arrangement, since traditional publishing has not yet adapted to the technological shifts that are redefining everything, is that Eisler’s book would be published within a month of his finishing the manuscript.
When Penny Marshall self-published (with Amazon) her memoir My Mother Was Nuts this year, the arrangement was so common that The New Yorker didn’t even mention it in its piece on the author.
“Good news,” I thought. “I’ll practically have the same publisher as Penny Marshall.”
Publishing has gone democratic, and masses of writers gamble on themselves, hoping they’ll hit a readership vein and mine financial profits, not to mention fame and glory. Some go it alone, others circle the wagons and form support groups, read each other’s blogs, offer tips. Some achieve at least one of the things they hoped for. Others don’t.
Like them, I heard the siren call. “Dyanne Asimow,” it said. “Time to take the power into your own hands.”
The Edge of Finalia began years ago when I volunteered as a “writing partner” at an elementary school and was paired witha young girl named Julia who loved to read and write. Her favorite kind of book was fantasy, so as she wrote her own stories I blithely set out to write her a chapter or two. We read each other’s pages. I waited expectantly for her response.
“Add wizards and swords,” she advised.
While Julia sailed on through the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades, my progress with wizards, swords, and the dark forces of evil was more of a struggle. I had previously only written for adults. Without her to guide me, I relied on feedback from a biweekly writing group and my own...read more