Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Publishing Game-Part II

Self-publishing Stuck was the right decision for me. It allowed me to reintroduce myself to the people who knew me only as musician. I hit the pavement in search of my audience. I scheduled readings, got my Web site up, sent out press releases and posted online at bulletin boards. I picked up the guitar again, which I hadn’t played in years. I tried all kinds of crazy stuff to get attention for my book, like incorporating live music and sound effects into my readings.

To date, I’ve sold about 500 copies of Stuck, which puts me in the top five percent of all print-on-demand titles. Stuck was nominated for iUniverse’s Star Program, which is a program offered to select titles that show promise in the market.

Still, self-publishing didn’t solve every problem for me. By and large, I didn’t get the kind of attention usually granted to a traditionally published book. I didn’t get any mainstream press. Stuck wasn’t in most bookstores, and it wasn’t reviewed in any of the important places.

But I went into it knowing this would be the case. Despite how proud I was of Stuck, I knew it was a small book, only 42,000 words, which by today’s traditional publishing standards plants it firmly in the novella category. It's also "off-genre," meaning it doesn't fall into any easily definable marketing niche. Finally, Stuck is topical; its greatest appeal is to people who have spent time in Tempe, AZ, especially those familiar with the Tempe music scene of the early 1990s.

I didn’t intend for this sort of specific appeal. I included aspects of that time and place purely for the sake of rendering a believable world; I wanted my fiction to seem real, and at the time of writing Stuck, the best way I could do that was to include elements of people and things I knew. This helped create my milieu, helped my characters cast shadows.

In retrospect, Stuck wound up being like a minor leagues of authorship for me, where I got a sense of how the publishing industry worked before taking the big plunge. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Next week, a quick peak at Ghost Notes.



Anonymous said...

Your experience is very valuable to me. Thank you so much for writing about it. It's very enlightening as to what I can expect. I do know the publishing game is NOT an easy business. I'm not looking for easy, although I didn't know there would be so many stumbling blocks and so much "arrogance", if you will, from the elite class of this business. Everything happens in it's own time, I do believe that. The one thing I can't seriously went for years without playing guitar?
;-) "If your bottle's empty, help yourself to mine"! Cheers! ~ K

Art Edwards said...

Yes, I did go about five years without touching one.

It was important to me at the time to focus on writing. Music has a very strong pull on me, and I needed a clean break. I moved to SF, went to graduate school, and wrote every morning from 7 to about 8:30. In 4 1/2 years, I had *Stuck.*