It is the season, the season for new books. Thanks to modern self-publishing, it’s always the season for new books. It’s possible to optimize publication dates, but any new book deserves a celebration, a celebration of the birth of an addition to civilization’s library. Look at it that way, and watch authors sat “Aw, shucks.” Let’s humor that response despite the fact that writing is one of the inventions that made civilization possible – some edits required. As for an income source, well, just because you furthered civilization does not mean you’ll be compensated for your work. But it could happen.
Tuesday evening was fun, at least for me. Don Scoby and I gave a talk at the Langley Library about self-publishing. Thanks to everyone who attended. Did you miss it? We live-streamed it, so all 90-ish minutes are available on YouTube.
Come back for more, because the industry continues to change. We intend to give updated versions of the same presentation at other local libraries, or wherever we reasonably can (including income and expense considerations, of course.)
The self-publishing industry has been changing in books, music, movies, art forms that were formerly gatekept by industries. Digital technologies have allowed artists to step around those gates and hurdles. When I published my first book, Just Keep Pedaling, fewer than 50,000 titles were published through modern print-on-demand presses.
“According to the latest report from ProQuest affiliate Bowker, self-publishing grew at a rate of more than 28 percent in 2017, up from an 8 percent increase during the prior year. The total number of self-published titles grew from 786,935 to 1,009,188, surpassing the million mark for the first time.” – Bowker
That’s a twenty-fold increase in under twenty years.
Self-publishing is derided by some because the quality of the work and probability of success are highly variable. But then, the same is true with the traditional publishers. At least now, freedom of speech and freedom of the press have fewer people restricting those freedoms. As for making money at it, I see any art form as an opportunity for an artist to create their own lottery ticket. The odds are terrible, but sometimes it works. Keep that day job in the meantime.
Add another title or three (and maybe four) to the list. Since Don and I made the presentation just before Thanksgiving, Don has published his new book, Make Your Own Darn Good Cookies. To those who think he should’ve shifted that title a bit, just wait.
In the audience was another friend who recently published two books: Reuse, Recycle, Reduce Your Waist & the ZooFit Exercise Guide both by PJ (Pattie) Beaven. In some ways, she’s spreading a similar message to Don’s; ala Make Your Own Darn Good Exercise Equipment. In a previous career, she helped zoo animals stay in shape. Why not do the same for humans? If a monkey can do it…
Everyone in the audience had projects in mind, and several were already published in some fashion. One of my joys is helping people complete their projects. My passion is for people and ideas, so helping writers become authors, helping ideas spread beyond the confines of one head, makes me happy. Considering the state of the world, we need more ideas, switching from thinking to doing.
By the way, send me a note if you or a group want our help working on your project. Check out Madrona Workshop Troupe for longer events that had more time to dive deeper into the details that don’t fit in 90-ish minutes.
New ideas frequently attract foes, or at least defenders of convention. Publishing my first books and selling my art photos revealed something about what readers and patrons were interested in. Writers can critique grammar, and then spend days debating amongst themselves about things like whether writers should use words like ‘amongst’ and ‘themselves’. (Or where a period should be placed in or out of parantheses.) They are valid argument(or)s. Photographers can critique resolution, exposure, cropping, and even camera choice. I found readers want stories and ideas and emotions; patrons of photos want something pleasing to look at, something that elicits an emotion, something that relays an idea. Readers care about story. Photo patrons care more about matching the decor.
Commas and pixels matter to writers and photographers, but not necessarily to those who buy the work. Who are you creating your art for? That’s an open question with no right answer.
As I type this post, Joe at Fine Balance Imaging is working on uploading my latest book. Usually I do so, but my computers can’t keep up with the software and hardware requirements of higher-end art photo publishing methods. Besides, he helped me produce the previous five editions, has professional equipment, and has younger eyes. Self-publishing requires significant delegation. Don’t try to do it all yourself.
This latest work is the sixth in my series of photo essays on Whidbey Island: Twelve Months at Maxwelton Beach. A glance at the books I’ve written should provide a clue about an element of my style. I am a marathoner. I haven’t run one in a while, but I bicycled across America, walked across Scotland, and even my investing strategy is based on holding stocks for years or decades. My Twelve Month studies take a simple idea that is rarely exercised.
“My few visits spread across twelve months are one small slice of a very long story, yet more than a single Saturday visit and therefore tell more of a tale. Visit it yourself and know that there is much more for you to see than I have shown. I hope you enjoy it all.“
“My books and photos are the products of my curiosity and my search for insights into our world, or at least my world. We live on a fascinating planet and in intriguing times. Whether that is for a reason, or just by chance, such a life is amazingly rich with experiences and connections. The best way to feel, to sense, the world and its complexities is the be active enough to get out into it, and quiet enough to observe it.“
Modern self-publishing is helping deliver the ideas and inspirations the world needs. Whether the author gets paid in money, acclaim, or simply the satisfaction of helping spread the word has less to do with their work in the world and more to do with a disconnect between the world and our economy.
If you want prints of any of the photos, contact Joe at Fine Balance Imaging.