Anne Bean

I make delicious words. // I make words delicious.

Tag: self-publishing

States of Grace

Last Thursday, I was part of a panel at SoulFood Books with ten other local women authors, most of whom were primarily self-published. It was a great evening and a healing experience on many levels. It reminded me that yes, I am perfectly legit as a self-published author: my experiences of writing and creating are very real and valid. I think it’s easy to question yourself as an artist at any point in your creative life: the voices in the back of your head start playing up, saying stuff like, “Is she for real?” and “Well, this has worked out so far but I’m sure it’s a fluke” and “Well, it’s not like she’s properly published except in literary journals put out by colleges and those don’t count because…” etc etc. In her excellent book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott calls this Radio KFKD and has some great tips for how to tune it out. Going and hanging out with a group of empowered women authors was a pretty good one, I have to admit.

It was interesting to hear what everyone had to say…one thing that surprised me (not that it should’ve, given that it was a new age bookstore and deep in my wormy little scientists’ child heart I know more spiritual truths than I am willing to admit) was how much everyone talked about the experience of writing as a spiritual experience. There was a lot of talk about being a conduit and having the writing naturally flow through you, of writing as a spiritual experience.

There was also a goodly mentioning of how hard writing is, which was important…otherwise I was starting to wonder if these enlightened and self-empowered ladies ever have days like I do when they can’t even muster the courage to roll their faces across the keyboard, much less write down actual words or sentences.

But at the end of the day, I admit that there is a very important spiritual component to writing. For me and fiction, it’s about surrender. Getting some words down means not obsessing over each one, means not standing on the edge of the abyss and quietly freaking out, but rather diving in and thrashing about until I get somewhere. I am not afraid to write bad prose, and I think that is one of my biggest strengths as a writer. Because if I can write a terrible piece of connective tissue binding two decent scenes together, then I’m one step closer to getting that second draft of the novel. I have faith that my bad prose will eventually turn into good prose, with pruning and revision and dear trusted friends telling me when they don’t care about my characters or have no idea what I’m saying. In the meantime, every day that I sit down and turn to the page is a good day. Nothing bad can come from me writing. It’s a lesson that’s easy to forget (especially when there’s laundry and commuting and sleep to be had).

So. Today counts as a success then.

Also, the video from the SoulFood event will be available soon on ustream….I’ll keep you posted!

Author Event in Redmond, WA

So, I’m pleased to announce that I have an upcoming booksigning at Soul Food Books in Redmond on June 19th! They are having some exciting Solstice-type festivities there, and I’ll be in to sign copies of Freedomland from 2-3PM!

I recently had a conversation that went something like this:

“So I have a booksigning coming up in Redmond.”

“Oh cool. Where?”

“SoulFood Books.”

“Which one is that?”

“It’s by the Ben Franklin and the toy store.”

“Oh! The hippie bookstore!”

SoulFood is arguably a heck of a hippie bookstore; my younger generation friends would more likely describe it as “woo-woo.” It’s got a solid selection of religious, spiritual, new age, and herbal medicine books. It also has a stage, coffee shop, and strong commitment to supporting local authors, musicians, and artists. Bomb!

I have a special place in my heart for new age bookstores, having worked for one (the inestimable Mountain Books of Conifer, CO) through high school. The man who runs it is a fount of wisdom and was a great adult for me to have in my life during my impressionable teenage years. Plus, once I found a handwritten, photocopied account of someone’s encounters with Bigfoot. And what does a scientists’ child live for if not such wacky things?

In any case, come to my booksigning, O people of Washington! Have a tasty cup of tea while you’re there.

Searching for my readers…

This past weekend I spent most of my time in Capitol Hill at the Richard Hugo House‘s writing conference, Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century.

Its focus wasn’t craft, but rather marketing, publishing, publication, and all those other things that writers do that aren’t writing. This is something I’d been hungering for, and I left with an overall sense of hope about my career and writing life.

Mainly, I got two things out of the conference. First, I got a lot of really important nuts and bolts for my own publishing plans. I learned about the Espresso Book Machine, which prints and binds (well!) single copies of books from PDF files. I learned how to approach bookstores with my book, and what a writer’s platform is and how to strengthen mine. I talked to knowledgeable people about how to market my work when it stretches between genre fiction and literary fiction. Et cetera.

Secondly, I got an overall picture of where publishing might be going in the future…and I like it. The traditional vision of publishing goes something like this: Author gets agent, who convinces publishing company to accept manuscript, manuscript is printed and distributed en masse, extra books come back to publishing company as returns. In this scenario, the books are products to be pushed, stuff to be sold just like any other gadget on the market. The new way *might* look something more like this: author makes manuscript, hires editor to edit, then feeds manuscript into Espresso Book Machine, making single copies available to eager readers worldwide who know said author from their online presence. No returns, no agents.

I see self-publishing like this as something that will become ever more popular, although I don’t think it will ever replace traditional publishing, nor should it. But I think that the traditional structure will change in response to a new wave of bad-ass self-publishing. I guess as a whole we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’m trying to have the best of both worlds; I plan to try to find an agent and traditionally publish “Changeling” when I’m done with it. In the meantime, with Freedomland I’m riding the wave of self-publishing (and hopefully self-printing once I talk to Vladamir at Third Place Books!) into the future.

If you’re in Seattle and itching to get your hands on some local writing, check out Pilot Books in Capitol Hill. It’s a tiny store with bas-ass flavor that’s all about local authors.

Author event today!

I know this is short notice, but I’m pleased to announce that I have a booksigning today at the Dragon’s Lair (a game/comic shop) in Bellevue at 3:30PM. Hopefully I’ll be able to do a bit of a reading, too. So, Seattle/Eastside peeps, come show your support! If you have my book and have just been waiting to track me down to sign it…now’s your chance. Otherwise you can come and buy my book and get it signed. Whee!
Map to Dragon’s Lair

Le sigh.

Turns out after I spent far too much time and effort stressing out over how to get my book distributed through Ingram…that happens automatically with iUniverse. My book can be ordered by independent bookstores whenever. It’s listed as “nonreturnable” because it’s print-on-demand, but I can totally convince bookstores they should buy copies to sell. Holler. I’m back to a place where I’m no longer horribly sick of Freedomland and do want to actively promote it again. I feel a little silly, after all that stress.

Turning the page

Wrote this yesterday, thought I’d put it on today for the start of the new decade. As a side-note, I find it auspicious that the new year starts on a Friday.

The sky in Seattle today is basically sludge—a gray slurry of clouds that spits rain and gives that quality of dull light that makes people want to sit around in dark rooms playing guitar and wearing flannel. Today I am doing neither. I am writing a post for this, my Professional Writing Blog What I Am Actually Doing Not Just Talking About, because I am determined to get a decent start on the blog before the decade ends.

I’ll admit it straight up. I feel a bit embarrassed about saying I self-published a science fiction novel. Not that I’m embarrassed about the “novel” or even “science fiction”…it’s the self-publishing that makes the little centipedes of self-doubt run around in my stomach. I talked to an editor friend of mine about the likelihood of me getting a press release in the Seattle Times. “As a policy [they] don’t do anything with self-published books,” he told me, “just because there are so many.” One of my iUniverse folks told me one out of every seven books published is from them and their affiliates. That doesn’t even cover the whole range of the self-publishing and print-on-demand market, and it’s taking up nearly 15% of the publishing industry! This tells me two things. First, people are hungry for words, so hungry that they’re putting out books left and right in any form possible. This is the optimistic thought. The pessimistic second thought is that there is little niche market for my book. I know “science fiction” doesn’t really cover what my book’s about, but I’m not sure what does. “Dystopian fiction” is not yet in vogue as a genre.

So I’m torn. I’m torn between the longing for traditional publishing and someone else to do all my marketing for me for free, and a desire to kick traditional publishing in the pants and go on a raging DIY rampage, freeing words from the confines of, well, professional editors, for one. Hmm. To that end, this year will be about indulging both desires. I will write shortish things to publish, and also create a monthly zine about food and gardening and vegetables, which has been an idea brewing in my head for a long time. I also plan to revise my NaNoWriMo novel, which is a fabulously rough piece of clay at the moment that I can shape in many different ways. But that is another story entirely, as it were.

Any thoughts on traditional versus self/other forms of publishing?

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