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.

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.

Do what you love

Anytime I get asked to give advice to kids about their future I feel like the driver of the bullshit bus.

‘Work hard, do your homework and eat your vitamins!’ Hulk Hogan always said that when I was a kid so I go with that. I never worked that hard, they had to lock me in a room to do homework and my vitamin C came from fruit flavoured alcopops.

I also say ‘do what you love.’

If you’re doing something you care about in your spare time and working on projects that you’re passionate about then who gives a fuck. You’re going to get better at it and you’re going to value your time. If you can be proud of something you’ve created or a team you’ve worked with then it’s all worth while and that can turn into success in other aspects of your life.

This is my attempt to get back to that way of thinking.

I’ve always loved creation. Building worlds and characters inside my head, but in honesty that’s where most of it stayed because it’s a hell of a lot easier to think you’re good at something than test it. Also nodding along to scenes only you can see while listening to Spotify is simpler than putting it to paper.

So I’m taking my own, and the Hukster’s, advice right down to the vitamins. Over the past year I’ve written a book called The Sane King. The kind of book I’d like to read. It’s about doing the right thing and larger than life heroes like the ones who taught me how to be a better person when I grew up. It’s violent and earnest and not at all cynical.

I hope people enjoy reading it but most of all I loved writing it. There’s still a lot of editing needed but when the day comes I put it out there I’ll be proud to stand by it and say ‘that bucket of bat-shit crazy is mine’.

Heroes are not born, but forged.

A lone warrior takes up the cause of a hunted boy. A desperate nation seeks to bolster its fragile army. A malevolent god feasts on the nightmares of men and seeks to bring ruin to all.

The wanderer, Rayle, stands against the preternatural forces lurking on the edges of civilization and sanity. In the bleak lands of the Wrack, he rescues Bray from brutal men. Swearing to help the boy seek vengeance for the death of his brothers, Rayle finds himself locked in a savage contest that tests both his strength of arms and will.

The Younger Union, losing its long war against a tyrannical enemy is moved to enforce ancient contracts. Tensions build as an idyllic farming community becomes the stage upon which the future of the north will be decided.

When events collide, and a monstrous power threatens to drown their world in blood, Rayle and his unlikely allies must fight to stop the tides of carnage. To win they must first survive, and to survive they must overcome their fears, doubts, and regrets.