Ah, life as an independent writer and publisher.
This year I released three different titles; one was a new work, my western The Last Hunt. The others were compilations of poetry and prose that go back more than twenty-five years.
I'm not expecting any of the trio to garner monster sales numbers--after all, the western genre is nearly kaput (at least according to traditional publishing houses) and nobody reads poetry or prose poems these days. Doesn't format well on iPhones, doncha know.
These literary offerings are of the highest quality and superbly presented...but they're competing with hundreds, thousands of self-published books by "authors" whose idea of editing is running their book through a spell-checker once or twice.
How does an author of originality, some modicum of talent, draw attention to their books amidst this flood of tawdry tomes?
My pal, British science fiction author Ian Sales, recently wrote about the difficulty of attracting readers, selling even a minimal amount of books. Ian is a writer of enormous talent and potential; I've publicly predicted that he'll be shortlisted for a major science fiction award within five years and that's one bet I intend to collect on. He talks about the stigma of being a self-published author...but what's the alternative? Leaving fine work moldering in some drawer, stuck away on a jumpdrive? Letting the trads carry the day with their Fifty Shades of Shit and soft core vampire/zombie porn?
Not a chance.
Writers like Ian and myself have decided to put our creativity (and our bank balance) to the task, release first-rate books in beautiful, eye-catching formats and rely on smart readers to (eventually) seek us out. For that strategy, one must think in the long term, cultivate a great deal of patience.
Sooner or later that wannabes and hacks lose their luster, flame out and end up in the bargain bin: stickered, remaindered, irrelevant. Let them have their day in the sun, collect their filthy lucre...and then slink back under the wet, slimy rocks from whence they came.
Two and a half decades on, I'm still coming into this office every day, sitting at my desk, answering the call of my Muse, putting words on paper. In that interval I've seen 'em come and go. The celebrated, the exotic, the next Great Thing. Where are they now? Gone and forgotten.
And me? I've still got my words...
Causes Cliff Burns Supports
The Stephen Lewis Foundation, Community Radio