The first question friends ask me when I talk to them about the Brink City Crime books is: Why self-publish? They say this largely because they know that I’ve worked in traditional publishing, that I socialize with published authors, and count among my acquaintances book editors and proofreaders. The implication being that the regular hurdles of getting some attention within the industry - no small feat considering how many people these days consider themselves authors - and of gaining enough respect to merit face-time with an agent, would be so much simpler for someone with connections on “the inside”. I sympathize with this view, and as a guy who began his working life in an altogether different industry, I still remember that feeling of wondering what it must be like to have contacts within publishing’s inner circle. A miserable state of mind, shared by millions - like a kid dreaming of a Wonka golden ticket.
Truth be told, the feeling evaporates the moment you start interacting with actual writing and publishing people. You might not believe this, but they’re just like every other busy professional, albeit with a few marked eccentricities the higher up the chain you go. Talking to them about writers, about deadlines, about slush-piles becomes no more fascinating after a while than talking to a carpenter about wood.
But that’s getting away from the purpose of this article. Why did I self-publish these books, considering how much trouble I’ve taken to develop a character-driven crime series? Wouldn’t it be easier, more prestigious, more lucrative to try to pull a few favors, and get enough of this material read by the people who count to at least put myself in the position of being a contender? Well, I admit it: I did just that. Self-publishing is not easy, if you want to do it right. It’s not prestigious at all. But then we come down to other factors, like money, like creative control, like rights ownership. These are the not just key elements of the deal, but the only elements any serious author should be considering when they’re embarking on a writing career. Prestige can go to hell, in my opinion. And as for doing things the easy way? No one’s going to convince me that pursuing the point of least resistance achieves very much of anything. But, along with so many other people, I still somehow imagined (or perhaps wanted to imagine) that going the route of traditional publishing remained the way of getting it done.