Wednesday, 31 December 2008

This is your future speaking...

No, really. I mean it literally. During the course of this day, the New Year is sweeping around the globe hour for hour. It just happened to get to us first, which means I'm writing this in 2009 and some of you will be reading it in 2008. Never mind the blogger post time, it refuses to line up with New Zealand. I assure you, it is 11 AM on the first of January.

So much for the literal future. What about the literary one? Here goes...

It is my belief that small presses, indy houses and self-publishers will take over the entire bookselling industry in good time. We've all heard the news about big publishers losing business lately and reducing their output. Many authors think this is bad news - perhaps their manuscripts will never see the light of day?

Perhaps. But only if they continue their fixation on so-called "real" publishers. Let me explain.

This is one of the reasons I love the Lost Genre Guild so much. In our ranks you will find maybe a handful of authors published by traditional methods. And more power to 'em! But the rest of us...harbour a distinct skepticism for that approach.

Many of us have stacks of rejection letters from said publishers as proof. They don't want our genre. So why bother? I skipped that stage and went straight to publishing through my own imprint - due to encouragement from the Guild, I might add, and with their firmly instilled belief that our work must attain the highest standard in order to bust the stigma of independent and self publishing, which admittedly has a bad name. BUT if our books are truly good - polished till they shine, professionally produced and marketed - then we can leave that stigma far behind.

There's no need for an author to go through the awful cycle of submission and rejection. What we must do is focused in a different direction.

The things that an author MUST do in this day and age are quite different. You must work on your craft - read how-tos, full participation in critique groups, etc. You must engage in online networking to an epic scale. Invade the blogosphere, the social sites, the forums relevant to your work. Get your name out there. Secure pre-publication reviewers. Make book trailers.

That's about all if you're going with a small publisher, because that publisher will take care of cover design, interior formatting, print and distribution.

However, if you're going the total DIY route, there is more to be done. All that stuff the publisher would otherwise do is falling now onto your shoulders. The Guild is very helpful with ideas and resources in this regard.

Also, and I cannot emphasize this enough, you should run your book through another round of thorough critiques for edits and proofreading. Typos and stylistic sloppiness will brand your book as an amateur effort, and that is the one thing we must avoid at all costs.

If you succeed with excellence in these things, then this IS your future speaking. Quality, independently published books will be aesthetically indistinguishable from their traditional counterparts. The only difference: no limits on genre as imposed by narrowmindedness in its various forms.

I long for the day when science fiction comes to resurgence. And you know what? it feels great to be doing my bit in making it happen - with the Lost Genre Guild behind me all the way. Go LGG!
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