Self-Publishing is About Growth

Originally guest published over on Bookwraiths.com

When I was writing my first story all I could think about was how people would love the characters. It had a kickass kid, time-travel, dinosaurs, swearing, and random acts of senseless violence.

My teacher hated it. 7 year old Matt Knott was distraught.

Then again 7 year old Matt also got stuck up a 2 foot tree. He was an idiot.

What I didn’t understand was that my teacher didn’t hate it. She just saw something in it that was beyond my years and wanted to nurture that through criticism. A few years back my mother made mention that the now retired hatemonger had asked if I’d carried on writing.

She was genuinely curious to see how I’d grown.

What many Self-Published authors tend to miss is that our readers are teachers. What we put out there is on us to make the best tales we can, but also accept that the best we can do today is not the best we can be.

Over the past couple of months I’ve seen a whole lot of Self-pub guys pushing for good reviews or only acknowledging praise.

For close to a decade I’ve worked on huge projects in gaming. They’re collaborative global efforts that I’m really proud of. I’ve learned so much and grown as both a person and a professional. When it comes to writing I wanted to go it alone. Put into practice all I’d learned over the years.

I wanted to own my growth and destiny. Have something that is completely mine.

Part of that is accepting that I’m starting out on a journey. That I need to be ready to ache and challenge myself. I’ve always loved writing. Genuinely loved it and to love a skill is to suffer for it.

Self-Publishing is a way to grow as a person and a writer. Engaging with people who have legitimate, well placed criticism is rewarding. It helps you to get to firm up your own beliefs in where you should focus on improvement.

It also guarantees that person will be invested in your journey and come back to see where their guidance has led you. Your most valuable readers aren’t those who love your words unconditionally. They’re not fans.

They’re people who saw something in your work that holds promise and encourage you to live up to that.

What you deliver should always be the highest quality you can provide and we should feel pride at what we’ve achieved. Accept the praise! Feel great about it. Just know that we can always do better and owe it to our readers to strive for growth.

That’s why I encourage everyone to take the time to write thoughtful replies to criticism and to not only acknowledge it but embrace it. Be self-aware

As writers who chose to go it alone we owe it to ourselves to be open and honest about our flaws. We owe it to our readers to live up to their expectations.

Self-Publishing can just be pure vanity projects, or it can be a place for us to hone our craft and surprise our readers and ourselves with every new page.

That old teacher is reading my first book now. I’m looking forward to my first F since I left high school.

Insecure Authors and the Grim Wasteland of Self-Publication

The other day I got a message from someone telling me that the busiest period of the year for book buying was coming up. I couldn’t miss the big marketing opportunity they had for me, apparently.

For only a handful of coins they’d transform my life with some great Amazon and Goodreads reviews.

What absolute bollocks that is. I can understand there’s a market for it. Self-Publishing is a world of getting shunned by everyone and working hard to have people give your work a chance.

It’s a crowded wasteland, we’re all hungry, and the sun is setting.

wasteland_video_intro

Paying for lies isn’t going to protect you from reality. A few more strangers might give it a look, but it’s tainted meat.

Reviews don’t come easy. That’s what makes it worth the work and waiting. A four star review from a stranger was the most satisfying thing I’ve ever logged into Amazon to read. It blew my mind and made me get excited to keep working.

I’ve had a couple of friends post reviews unsolicited after they’ve hit me up, and I’m glad they enjoyed it. When I see one posted by them on Amazon, something feels off. They’ve done it of their own accord and I know their enthusiasm is genuine; thing is the satisfaction isn’t there.

A paid for review posted up would send me crazy. My dad posted a review and it gives me palpitations. It looks sketchy as hell, I feel oddly cheated. I even dropped a message over to Amazon that’s yet to have anything done.

Those are just personal feelings though, do I have facts and data to back up why it would be bad to do this? Luckily I created this handy graph.

graph

As you can see it’s great for skiing in the clown shoes that come part and parcel with the service.

What if the intended effect happens though and you make mad cash from it?

*Imagine I’m doing a shrug with a confused look and my palms pointed upwards like a bit in a 70’s comedy*

I get why people do it. I don’t blame them for wanting to try for an edge. Lying to your potential readers and trying to shortcut hard work isn’t the way to do that. You can grab hold of that first piece of bushmeat you find out on the plains and stuff the rancid, raw morsels in your mouth.

You might be fine at first, but the myriad diseases are going to wreck your innards.

Don’t compromise your integrity and dignity by paying someone 15 bucks to have their kids write you an Amazon review. Self-Publishing is risky and you need to be secure enough to be in for the long haul, if you’re so insecure that you’re trying to rush things along then stop to consider the whole.

Are you dependant on book sales to eat? To change your life? To get laid? Maybe there’s better ways to achieve those things without spending cash on gimmickry.

Not all authors will survive the wasteland of self-publication. My work will likely end up as bones on the trail.

It’ll make one hell of a smug, honest skeleton at least.

Fantasy is Inspirational

The other day someone mentioned to me that Heroic Fantasy as a genre is weak. It’s a place for power fantasies and weirdness.

I disagree, good Heroic Fantasy isn’t about projection.

Fantasy at its best is inspirational. It’s a fuel for ambitions that don’t come easy for some. It’s not about imaginary power, it’s about the way we experience a beautiful world. After reading good Fantasy you should want to walk, crush the gym, see distant lands. Cram more into your mind. Live that shit.

If you’re sitting on your ass or don’t feel a twinge of wander-lust bursting in your veins then something is wrong. Maybe you’re sensible. Sensible people are good people, nothing wrong with it. Yet there’s something glorious about embracing potential. Letting your mind loose to not just dream, but plan.

Is there a mountain you want to scale? Is there a sight you want to see? Is there some lust deep inside yourself to get into high impact physical sports?

Fuck it, that guy in the book pulled it off and he was a nobody. Maybe I can do it too.

Maybe you’ve never woken up bruised and battered, but proud of an accomplishment. The prospect of pain scares you, yet you’ve always wanted to try something with the risk of it.

Grit your teeth, you bastards. Get that music that pumps you up on, and go for it.

If you’re healthy and without any sickness, Fantasy should be your push to go further. Not a crutch or a window into a world that can never be yours.

You can hide in it, sure. That’s how I often hear a lot of people describe the genre. It’s camouflage from reality. I can understand that, I can empathise with it. I just disagree it’s all there is.

Through depression, cancer, growing up gay, all the violence and everyday bullshit, Fantasy has been there. Never as an escape but a friend laying out sagas that gave me something to aspire toward.

The question good books tend to pose is ‘What would I do?’

We get put in situations everyday where we can answer that with action. Small things usually, but they define us. Heroic Fantasy boils down to doing the right thing.

That is something everyone can aim for. Being a person who helps others, looks on things with awe, and rides life like a horse.

We don’t need swords or magic to do it, we just need to be inspired.

Heroic Fantasy is inspirational. It’s raw passion for the best things in life.

Next time you finish a book that sparks something inside, keep clicking it until it ignites.