Thinking

I’ve been thinking again about my past projects (pictured above), now have a bit of distance from them. They haven’t been out in the world for a while – I unpublished them over a year ago – and, in fact, one of them never even made it out to begin with. I killed my micro-poetry project before it ever really saw the light of day.

But anyway, I’m thinking about it because… because I’m kind of itching to start something new.

And I’m nervous.

I don’t know if anyone has been able to tell, but I’ve been finding it hard to blog, recently. Hard to motivate myself to do it. The words you’re reading now are the first ones I’ve written this month. Maybe I’ve lost momentum. Maybe I’m burned out. Maybe both?

Either way, I think I need a break. Which is funny, actually, because I’m not sure if I know what one looks like. A lot of the time, a break for me just means switching gears to do something else rather than stopping entirely. And it’s kind of the same here. I don’t want to stop entirely so much as I… well. This might sound weird, but I want to draw.

I’m not actually good at drawing, but I want to learn. I want to try.

I actually think I want to try Inktober, and I’m itching to put together a somewhat rough and ready zine from what I create.

…reading back over that last sentence, I am relieved that I still want to create. Maybe it means everything isn’t so bad as it feels right now.

I’m just tired.

I don’t know when I’ll blog again, but words will most certainly return in some way at some point. Maybe it’ll be in a month. Maybe it’ll be a few hours and I’ll then feel silly for having written this. Regardless, I’m gonna doodle in the meantime.

A zine is a fun idea, but I’m playing with it as just that; not committing myself to anything just yet.

I have mixed feelings about putting another thing out into the world, because of the aforementioned past projects. They all took so much time and energy (some more so than others) but, ultimately, I was unsatisfied with them. My standards kept rising and the books kept falling short.

No wonder I’m a little gun-shy.

…I’m not really sure where I’m going with all this. Maybe that’s my point.

I’m just thinking. Musing. Having a little doodle.

I’ll be back.

Thoughts on Legacies in a Time of Lockdown

Content warning for mention/discussion of death. 

This is a post about publishing, about career-making (or breaking) decisions, and about having a life’s work to leave behind you. In the grand scheme of things, it’s perhaps not the most important topic, but I find importance to be a fairly relative thing.

I feel the need to justify talking about publishing decisions at the minute, given the current state of the world, but I’m not sure how logical that is. What I can say is that it matters to me, personally, and I’ve found the current global situation has given me a little perspective.

Previously, I’ve spoken about my thoughts and feelings about mortality, and I’ve written here ad nauseam about publishing and self-publishing and hopes and dreams. Now I find all these topics overlapping in my brain, mixed in with an unhealthy dose of anxiety.

My thoughts about wanting to see myself in print have gone on a journey from wanting to get really far really fast, to finding folly in being ill-prepared, to slowing things right down and waiting for the right time. And I’ve documented pretty much all of those thoughts as they evolved.

Well, now they’ve moved onto this new place where, on the one hand, I still want to be cautious and careful about making the right decisions but, on the other hand, am worried about what happens if I wait too long and I lose all my opportunities through indecision.

I guess what I’m looking for is a middle ground. I haven’t found it quite yet, but am writing this post as a means to help me do just that. Continue reading

On Impatience and Self-Publishing

When I first found out I could produce a book and put it out into the world all by myself, I got so excited I jumped at the chance. Then I jumped a second time, and a third. Suddenly, I wanted to self-publish everything. Within a few months, I had several projects planned and– yep, I basically got wayyy ahead of myself.

Not all of the projects I planned saw the light of day, in the end, and I think that’s for the best.

As I said in my previous post, I wasn’t ready to self-publish when I first did. I just didn’t know enough to realize how much I didn’t know.

In part, I’ve been thinking about this because I’ve joined the recently formed Irish Independent Authors’ Collective. It’s also on my mind because I’m trying to get traditionally published at the moment as well.

At some point, I started thinking a bit more long-term and realized that all of my impulse publishing decisions might have hurt my writing career in the long run, which – oops?

Let me not beat around the bush: the very first books of mine ever printed were sub-par quality, and I’ve had to spend a LOT of time and effort re-doing them in the years since. The editions available to buy now I’m mostly okay with but, if I could do it all again, I’d have brought out fewer titles and spent more time over each of them.

I would still have self-published Juvenilia (the bind-up of my teenage poems), brought out a poetry chapbook as a stepping stone to submitting a full-length poetry collection to traditional publishers, and maybe released a short story collection (that just had stories and was not mixed in with poems) as I worked towards my novel, which I would aim (and still do aim) to get traditionally published.

I like the idea of being a “hybrid” author – having a foot in each camp – a lot. In the modern day, I think it makes sense to try and build an audience while you’re trying to attract an agent.

BUT – and here’s the kicker – only if you’re ready.  Continue reading

Addendum

Things I Wish I'd Known About Self PublishingIt’s just over four years since I published the first ever edition of Still Dreaming, and I’ve learnt a lot since then.

At the time, I boasted about how I could do everything myself – editing, proofreading, cover design, etc. – and, as such, that I was saving so much money.

Older me knows better.

Twenty-seven-year-old me knows, for example, that you can read over the same document three hundred times and still miss a typo that a different person, with a fresh pair of eyes, can pick up in moments.

Proofreaders and editors are worth their weight in gold, and if you want your book to be the best, it’s a good idea to invest in hiring one (or both).

Editing and proofreading are skills that I now offer other people (having now learnt the skills, myself), but I no longer rely solely on myself to do it for my own books (as per the reason mentioned above).

I’ve also learnt a fair bit about formatting and cover design since two-thousand-twelve.

Still Dreaming (and all the rest of my books) have been updated a few times since then, and I’m a little bit embarrassed about the earlier versions, truth be told, but I’d probably do it all again, if given the chance.

I mean, sure, if I was doing it again I’d do it differently, but the only reason I know what changes to make is because I went out there and tried. I made mistakes, I learnt from it, and now I’m better at what I do. I’m even able to help other people, which is great.

As for the money thing: I couldn’t have afforded to hire an editor back in 2012 even if I wanted to, but I have paid the literal price since, ordering new proof copies each time I updated anything (which was often).

If I’d been more patient and less arrogant, I’d probably have waited until I could have afforded to work with professionals, but then, as I say, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I’m very happy with where I now find myself.

I guess the main thing to take away from this is to be wary of advice from newbies – especially if that newbie is yourself.

Lulu Junior, but for Adults?

Comic Book Front CoverApparently it’s been around since February 2014, but I’ve only just heard about this thing called Lulu Jr.

Lulu.com (the parent company), for those who don’t already know, allows people to self publish using the print on demand model, meaning there’s very few overhead costs to releasing a book. As a big fan of this M.O., I’ve used Lulu to create the paperback versions of all of my books.

So now there’s this new thing – essentially Lulu for kids – and it sounds so cool! (No, I’m not getting paid to say this.) Lulu Jr’s book making kits come with everything needed for a child to draw out pages of a book, which they then send to Lulu via the included envelope, and then Lulu compiles the pages into a proper printed masterpiece and sends it back. I told you it sounded cool! WHERE WAS THIS WHEN I WAS A KID?!

Ahem.

Don’t judge me, but I find this so awesome that I’m tempted to do it myself. Yes, the kid’s version and, no, I’m not joking.

As and adult that shamelessly reads children’s books, and enjoys a good spot of coloring in, this is right up my street. But here’s what I’m wondering: why isn’t there a Lulu Jr, but for adults?

Okay, okay, I can practically hear you rolling your eyes at the screen. There’s already the main Lulu service, I’ve already said that, I know. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about a third option, in which adults who are not professional artists but who like to doodle as well as write can, not only self publish a book, but can illustrate one too.

In 2014 I made a comic for 24 Hour Comic day, and that resulting comic is available through Lulu’s main site. But let me tell you, it was not easy getting it there – I fought with my printer/scanner for three hours straight!

What I’m essentially saying here, in my perhaps not so humble opinion, is that Lulu is great, and Lulu Jr is a stroke of genius, but I want more. I want to be able to draw out pages to accompany my text, and then have Lulu put them into a book for me, no stress of misbehaving scanners whatsoever. Now, wouldn’t that be a nice Christmas gift?

Thoughts on Self-Publishing

I’ve self-published a few books, so far, and I intend to release more in the future, but I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on the topic by any means. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from both A. having opinions, and B. wanting to share those opinions, which is what I’m going to do here. If you want to read more about the actual process I went through in making my books a reality, you can do so over here.

So, what are my overall thoughts on self-publishing? It can be great. Key word: can. It can also be awful, if you do it wrong. But, generally speaking, I’m in favour of it. I like the opportunities it gives to people who – for whatever reason – can’t or don’t want to be traditionally published. That’s not to say I’m not in favour of traditional publishing, because I am. They’re both good, for their own reasons, and in their own ways. I think some types of books are more suited to one particular publishing method than the other and, when it comes to my novels, I want to go down the traditional route, only using self-publishing as a plan B.

I self-published ‘Still Dreaming’ and ‘Wake’ because it suited the books and it suited me, at the stage of my writing career I was at (i.e. the very first stage). Traditional publishing wasn’t a real, tangible option for them at that time, mainly because they were works of poetry and short stories, which are also known as ‘things most reputable publishers won’t touch with a barge pole unless the author is already very famous’. As sad as it is, that stance is completely reasonable for publishing houses to have because the chances of them selling these types of books in large enough quantities for them to break even – let alone make a profit – are very low.  Continue reading