Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Uncharted Waters, guest post from a friend Heading into Publishing

Many times I have been told that I am losing my marbles. I disagree. There’s a hole in the bag but I still have some marbles left. That, however, could change. I have decided to become an independent publisher. In Quebec.  And publishing in English no less.  Bring on the challenges.

Why am I doing this ?  Because of one person.

In my office there is a photo album I treasure that I keep in the second drawer of my desk.  One of the pictures I cherish is that of my grade 4 class picture circa 1976.  I’m at the end of the second row to the left smiling and wearing a mom-made red suit complete with the also mom-made haircut. I was convinced my red outfit gave me super powers at least that’s what I told the sweet dirty blonde  sitting to the right in the front row beside Freddy.  She’s wearing a dark blue blouse, blue jeans and an amazing pair of blue and white North Star sneakers .  She’s leaning slightly forward, hands on her lap looking mighty mischievous yet full of promise.  Her name is Debbie Brown.

Fast forward 30 years, losing track of each other as life happened, we reconnected through Facebook with the help of a classmate only for me to discover that Debbie was weeks away from having her first book signing in Chapters after the release of her first published novel, Amethyst Eyes.  Needless to say I was impressed remembering that she was my main rival in our creative writing lessons.  She was the better writer yet I maintain I was funnier. 
I was intrigued by the path she had undertaken with her first novel, in becoming an independently published author.  Today’s financial less than secure stability has certainly made major publishing houses watching their bottom line and reluctant to spend too much on emerging writers thus driving more of those writers to self-publish in order to have better control.  That is better control over their creative output, editing, art work for their cover, promotion and distribution.  More importantly keeping the control to the rights to their work.  The main difference is that major publishing houses have huge overheads and an independent author not so much so the financial responsibilities are not on same playing field.  Plus readers are becoming less concerned about packaging and more with content which explains the exponential growth in ebook sales.  The number of independent authors self-publishing their books has grown drastically very quickly as more authors are deciding to do everything themselves thus cutting out the middle man.   However there are major challenges along the way to become an independent publisher that I am starting to face now, let you know of my progress next time.

You, as an aspiring writer, know the drill- your brilliant idea develops from a sentence to a paragraph to a chapter to a book.  You write line by line, rewrite it and then revise it again until you feel it’s book worthy. You sacrificed time, family and activities because you were driven to write this brilliant manuscript. Once you think you have it the way you want it, you decide to let what I call your first readers  have a crack at it to agree that it is an emerging masterpiece but more likely they’ll find errors you missed because you were blinded by the sweat and tears of passion you spent writing. Now it’s completely edited, interesting and so beautiful you must share it.  No sarcasm intended here…you must truly believe in your creative imaginative original work for all the magic to work.  If you don’t then why would anyone else.  Ok, having said that, what’s next??? Getting it published and in the hands of eager awaiting readers.
Certainly you must submit your manuscript to major publishing houses hoping they will see the value of your work meant to be shared. And you do want to make some money off from all your hard work.  Then comes the reality for most authors.  Their books get passed on maybe once twice or a hundred times. You might get angry, frustrated and disappointed yet there are options you can self-publish meaning you must do all the work and either get assisted or full self-publishing. 
 Now I could go on about what happens next but Debbie wrote a great piece on her blog about it…go read it, it’s very good and informative.
The biggest problem publishing in Canada is that options are few and even fewer in Québec never mind in English.  Québec is a uniquely beautiful province with a diverse landscape and a very trying, challenging political climate and cultural diversity.  It is quite militant in preserving its culture and French language making it quite complicated to do anything in English.  I wanted to step in and help Debbie publish in Québec because I believe that the money raised for her creative pursuits should stay in Québec and not head to the United States which keeps getting complicated by customs, taxes and the IRS.

The first challenge I wanted to tackle was to translate Emma, Amethyst Eyes and Rebirth in order to increase the availability and sale potential of Debbie’s work but the first stumbling block in obtaining a grant to do so, you must be a recognized publisher to qualify. Ok strike one.  In order to get grant money to fund any creative English work in Québec is akin to licking the street outside my office…there are forms to fill, justifications to defend and a whole lot of waiting for answers. Strike two.  However since I am still new at this, there’s more research that needs to be done and if I strike out, there’s always the next batter bringing on more challenges.

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