Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Media splinters as more people try to grab your attention

That crash you just heard was media splintering.
Media -- news and entertainment -- is available everywhere, from every direction. 
Hundreds of thousands of us, if not millions have a blog. Some have a video blog (vlog) and more people are becoming published authors thanks to independent publishing, also know as "indies." 
"Real" authors used to look down their noses at vanity publishing. 
Vanity publishing referred to someone writing a book and paying someone to print it for them. 
It was as if "real" authors would be paid by Random House or some other big publisher for the right to print and distribute their work. 
Authors would spend years and collect hundreds of rejection slips. They would spend thousands of dollars in postage to send their 60,000-word manuscript to publishing houses only to get it back the worse for wear thanks to not only the U.S. Mail but sloppy editors who would drink coffee and eat at their desks while reading the latest batch of manuscripts from people who would become disappointed authors. 
Independent publishing is the exciting third option available to those who wisely refuse to pay to have their book published and who aren't willing to wait to be "discovered" by the big publishing houses. 
Improved technology has made independent publishing possible. 
Now, everyone can be a published author and I say that with joy, not looking down my nose at anyone. 
Not long ago, I received an e-mail from a person who I knew in high school. She and her husband were youth leaders in my home church. She wanted to know if I were the same person after reading my work somewhere. She said she had read one of my books and really enjoyed it. Then, she said (and I saw it coming as I read her e-mail) "I would like to be a writer." 
So, as part of my e-mail response I told her about indie publishing and gave her a few suggestions about how to get started. 
It's all about freedom of speech. The caveat to freedom of speech is that no one has to listen to what you have to say. 
I spent years in one job, absolutely convinced no one around me at work or in my personal life was listening to what I had to say. I felt invisible!
Having said that, I encourage anyone and everyone who can put two words together and be intelligible to write a book!
Here's where I would start: 
Now, it's up to you. 
My dad's aunt Jessie was the first person to give me any encouragement to write. She was a retired English teacher and thought my letters were really interesting. 
A few other people along the way said similar things. 
Then I received positive feedback after writing a few letters to the editor of the local newspaper where I went to college. 
Eventually, I sent off articles to magazines and they were published. And I was paid for it! That was exciting. 
My wife said my freelance writing often put food on the table. That was an encouragement and if I had been listening more closely, I would have made a change in careers years before I did. 
Encouragement is very important. I think it goes hand in hand with desire. 
Take my music, please! 
I was encouraged to play the clarinet when I was 12 years old. I didn't enjoy it but here was this cool, black instrument with the bright silver hardware on it. Mom and Dad made a substantial investment in it and carrying the olive green case back and forth to school seemed to give me a sense of identity. That's important to 12-year-olds. 
No one said, "You are really a good musician" because I wasn't. I certainly didn't enjoy trying to make music. There were too many squeaks where the notes should have been and I hated the squeaks. 
I would have much rather they spent the money on a typewriter or a tape recorder. I really enjoyed using both of them. 
I made lots of mistakes typing and, later, making audio recordings, but that was OK because I was having fun. 
Do you see where I'm going with this? 
Some people say they don't have time to write. Really? Best selling books have been written on legal sized notebook paper with a ballpoint pen. 
One author said she wrote her first book between sales calls, stealing minutes here and there. 
Today, Amazon (Kindle) offers indies the opportunity to get started in publishing for no cost except your investment in a computer and internet line. If you use your friend's computer, you don't even have to make that investment. 
There is also Kobo, Lulu and other companies that will print your book on demand and even put it for sale on Amazon and in other places. 
You can publish for electronic publishing (e-pub is the generic term for what can be read on the Kindle devices or a Nook or other equipment.)
If you want to publish one or a thousand copies of a book, you have to submit the manuscript and usually you have to purchase one book, a proof copy, that you can go over and be sure it looks the way you want it to look. When you sign off on it, Amazon and other booksellers will make it available online. You usually have to sell copies of your printed book yourself. 
The indie publishing model is really growing very fast. 
You can obtain digital copies of books free of charge from Amazon and other sellers. Some cost 99 cents. I prefer digital books because I am not fond of paper that grows old and smells moldy, but that's just me. I also like the ability to read books on my smart phone while waiting for Linda after work or while waiting for a doctor or dentist appointment. And, I love my tablet! Again, that's just me. 
So, good luck! While you may or may not be the next Faulkner, you will have many, many writers in competition for an audience. The good news, if you want to own a book, you don't have to pay $25 or more and then pay for shelving to keep that book with others in your home or office.