This week and especially yesterday has been an amazing time for me and I just wanted to share some of that experience with those of you who read my blog, plus I really want to make some comments on publishing and especially self-published or "indie" authors.
As an author, I think it is fair to say that the "Holy Grail" for us is and always will be, publication. This week I have achieved my "Holy Grail" with the publication of my first novel; "The Second Coming". It has been a time of immense excitement and euphoria that I just wanted to share with everyone.
The world of publishing has been turned on its head in the past decade. No longer do the big publishing houses have all the say; no longer do just a few elite writers have the opportunity to be published and no longer does the aspiring author have to wade through hundreds of rejection letters just to try and secure a literary agent, let alone a publisher. Technology has changed forever the ability of people to access the publishing process. Independent authors are indeed a rising force in the publishing game. Self-publishing is not only an option it is now a doable and achievable option for just about anyone. THIS IS A GOOD THING!
I've heard and read many opinions on this issue and the most common complaint I hear (especially from the entrenched "big name" authors) is that the self-publishing revolution has "dumbed down" the literary market. They suggest that the poor quality of writing, the poor quality of editing and the poor quality of the finished product destroys the very integrity of the published book. To this I say POPPYCOCK!
- Reading is VITAL to good physical, mental and social development for every single person. and;
- There is no such thing as a BAD book.
Let me illustrate my first point. In this mad, rapidly changing, hectic, fast-paced world, our children are subjected to 90 percent visual stimuli; be it television, video games, computers or just their own observations. Visual stimulation is good, don't get me wrong, but what it also is, is often passive. It doesn't usually require, in general terms, our children to think, to imagine and to fantasize, but merely to react. Those functions are exactly what our children need from an early age to stimulate the parts of their brains that deal specifically with creativity.
I consider myself blessed in that I grew up at a time when all this visual stimulation was simply not available. What I learnt about the world, about people, about relationships and about ideas, I learnt from books. I had to use my mind to create the visual images that were written on the page. I am absolutely convinced that it was this early exposure to mental stimuli that made me into the writer I am today.
I am sure we all remember as children how books allowed us to escape our boredom and transport ourselves to exciting, fantasy worlds of adventure and deering-do. It was an absolute joy and a treasure. It does concern me that many of our children are missing out on this amazing opportunity. My one advice to parents on this issue: Next birthday, next Christmas, just for a change give your child a book, instead of the latest game, the latest DVD or the latest subscription to XBox360 or whatever - in thirty years time that child will thank you.
What is a book?
To me, it is a collection of an individual's ideas, their fantasies, their personal recollections or their perspective on an issue, or on life in general. I hold the belief that everyone's opinions, ideas, dreams, ambitions, views, etc are not only valid, they are rightfully expressible. If they chose to use the medium of the written word to express them; then, I say, all power to them.
Sure, I may not agree with or in some cases I might totally disagree with what they write, but I do believe it is their inalienable right to do so, and the new publishing landscape now allows them the freedom to do just that. That is a GOOD thing.
The biggest objection made about self-publishing and independent authors is that they have flooded the market with poorly written, under-priced (says the big publishers), atrociously edited and sloppily presented books. There is some truth in that, I won't deny it; but if as these elite authors contend these books are SO bad, as good free-enterprisers I'm sure they would agree that the market will find them out very quickly, and they will sell very few books - so why worry about them anyway.
What I have found personally is that yes, self-published and especially self-edited books can be full of errors and typos and indeed they can be frustrating, but I'll use an example of one I read recently to show that it is not necessarily a bad thing.
This writer has talent, this writer has something interesting and worthwhile to say - something we would never have had the opportunity to read if it wasn't for the rise of self-publishing. I did review the book and I suggested the author re-edit the book and put it back on sale as a Second Edition - a very easy thing to do in this world of digital ebooks. I hope he takes my advice and I hope he continues writing because he has real ability with the written word.
The author's name is Bodhi Alvarez and his novel is called; "Masturbating With Strangers". If you are interested in reading my review of his book and maybe considering reading it for yourself, you can access it here: http://grantleishman.weebly.com/book-reviews/masturbating-with-strangers-bodhi-alvarez
Now a few brief words about my own personal journey to the release of my first book: The journey from conception to birth of "The Second Coming" has certainly been longer than the normal nine month gestation period and has produced a number of "scares" and "close calls" along the way, but most of all it has been a trip of great fun, excitement and ultimately joy.
I think it was around September 2013 that I finally had the epiphany that I was way too young to retire and be a house-husband, a kept man, or even a gigolo. Realizing that writing was what gave me the most pleasure in life, I determined that writing was to be my future; but if I was going to be a writer, then what was I going to write? In my naivety I just assumed that writers write novels, so I would write a novel - "I mean, how hard can it be? Plenty of people do it."
It was only after four months of trying different ideas, different stories, different genres that the concept of "The Second Coming" struck me one day, out of the blue. As I'm sure most writers do; I often sit and contemplate that one big question; "What if?" It just hit me one day as I was pondering my total lack of progress to date; "What if God got so absolutely sick of man's inhumanity to man that in a fit of rage he decided to destroy the earth and start again?" The whole concept grew from that initial question; "What if?"
By this stage I already had three different manuscripts of three very different stories and ideas composting away on my computer (incidentally all three stories are still there and have progressed no further since). I clearly had no idea how to progress past the exciting first chapter. Luckily I read one piece of advice that saved me from "newbie" author oblivion - "Just One Step at a Time!" Once I began "The Second Coming" I followed that advice to the letter. I wrote the first chapter and invariably the ideas for the next chapter would come to me, before I completed it.
When I started, I knew what my first chapter was about; I knew what the ending was going to be, but that tiny, little, bit in between....well, that was just a blank. By focusing on one chapter at a time though I was able to progress at what I thought was a remarkable pace. By the end of June 2014 my novel was finished! Hallelujah! Or so I thought.
Ultimately it took me until around the end of August or early September 2014 before I pronounced myself satisfied with my work, but the absolute truth is we are NEVER entirely satisfied with our work. Even yesterday as I was flicking through the completed book when it arrived, I looked at something and thought; "damn, I should have done that a bit better". But I suspect that is just the nature of most writers - we do tend to be perfectionists and we are horrified when we see something could have done better; especially when it is too late to change it.
I'm done - Hallelujah! Or so I thought.
In my absolute naive "newbie" mind I thought I could just send it off to Penguin, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, or whoever, and then sit back and wait for the offers to pour in. Twenty seconds of research quickly made me realize I had a monumental task in front of me. Imagine my angst when I discovered that not only could you not communicate directly with the publishers - even those that could (i.e. literary agents) were incredibly picky and choosy about who they represented. Apparently just finding a literary agent to represent me was going to be potentially impossible,
So, what were the other options? If I was even moderately well-off, I could hire all the people I needed to publish my novel. There seemed to be a plethora of self-publishing companies offering their editing, cover designing, formatting and publishing options to independent authors. I have no doubt that these companies perform a wonderful service and fill a very important place in the publishing world, but they were not for me - I couldn't afford an editor, let alone anything else...so what hope was there? What was left?
That was when I discovered crowd-funding.
Whilst trolling through the google search engine one day with the criteria being; "publishing crowd-funding" I came across one hit that seemed interesting. It was a small Spanish company called Pentian and they promised that they were going to "revolutionize" the publishing world. Now I've always been one for revolutionizing and shaking up any established institution, so I clicked on it to check it out.
Pentian published Spanish books, but the first thing I noticed was one English book on the site. Intrigued, I read that Pentian had developed a new type of crowd-funding and more importantly they wanted to expand into the English speaking market. Their point of innovation was that people didn't just put up money to help a new author be published, they actually directly invested in the book. The backers; the people that put up the money for the book to be published, received a proportion of every single sale of that book.
I loved the idea, so even though I thought my chances were slim, I submitted my manuscript and was amazed, thrilled and overjoyed when it was not only accepted, but Pentian's principal said some really nice things about it. I was stoked - I had a chance.
With the support of some wonderful family and friends, plus a little extra boost from one of Pentian's investors, suddenly on November 17th 2014, my funding was 100% complete. My book was going to be published.
I've done it! Hallelujah! Or so I thought.
I have no idea how other authors get on with, and communicate with their publishers, but for me it was a tricky business. There was the language barrier (I often received emails in Spanish.Thank God for Google Translate). Their publishing website was in Spanish and I actually didn't realize some of my responsibilities, until way too late. There was the time difference, which never helped.
The biggest problem that occurred was that of editing. Pentian's general rule was that they never edit manuscripts. I was totally unaware of that and had always presumed my manuscript would be edited by them; as part of the package. It wasn't until the first printed proof copy rolled off the production line that they realized there was a problem.
Kudos to Pentian! They broke their own rules and edited my book. Now herein lies the real lesson about self-editing. I consider myself a pretty good editor (I worked as a reporter for a newspaper for a couple of years) and I had fully copy edited my work on three separate occasions and yet I had missed at least twenty (count them TWENTY) typos, misplaced words or incorrect word usages. It is absolutely true that authors cannot properly edit their own work - I am living proof of that!
Thank you Pentian for saving me from the embarrassment of a badly edited novel hitting the market.
None of that reduces the absolutely wonderful experience of finally seeing my book for sale on Amazon and Google Play, plus the sheer joy of unwrapping my package of printed copies. It is an awesome feeling and one that will live with me forever. I don't know if the second or third books will evoke quite the same joy and excitement, but I actually suspect they will. I think it might be something that never gets old.
I've done it. Hallelujah! Or so I thought.
I know you'll enjoy it, so do, please consider buying it, reading it, and most importantly of all leaving a review. Authors need reviews, so wherever you buy "The Second Coming" from, please consider just writing a few lines there as a review. It doesn't have to be much - even one word (for example: "AWESOME" would be good) and of course rate it A review is like food to an Author. Please feed me!
I have included links here to Amazon and Google Play. I haven't yet found it on iTunes, but I'm promised it will be there, so if you're an Apple fan, please search for it:
First and foremost to the two people who "The Second Coming" is actually dedicated to; my son Chris and to my gorgeous, loving, wife Thess. To Chris who gave me so many ideas, especially at the beginning, when I was struggling and was never afraid to give his Dad a proverbial "kick up the arse" when I was procrastinating, you're amazing son. He was always prepared to read my work and critique it honestly (sometimes too honestly to be fair) - Thanks buddy!
To my biggest fan, my greatest cheerleader and the woman that rocks my world: Thess, you have been my constant companion on this journey. You have ridden the highs of elation and the depths of frustration with me. You have put up with my moodiness at the slowness of the process, but most of all honey you never, ever doubted me. You believed that this dream would come true and because of you - it did! You are my rock, my lover, my wife and my best friend. I am immensely proud of what you've achieved and are still to achieve. You are AWESOME babes! Sweetheart, I am YOUR biggest fan. Let's keep this ride going ha!
To Pentian: Thank you for the faith you showed in me and my book. You produced a wonderful product and although the road was rocky and long; you came through. Thank you to Enrique, Cristina and Julio.
To my Backers: Marilyn, Tracey, Nick, Darren, Nette and Heidi; you guys put up your own money to make my dream come true, and I can never express my gratitude for that enough. My fervent hope is that you will get a wonderful return on your investment. Thank you.
To my #promocave family: You guys have built an awesome independent author platform that I am just privileged to be a part of. Your support, encouragement and responsiveness has been amazing. To Jorge, Amilcar and Enrique; thanks guys. I look forward to working with you long into the future.
To my Facebook, Twitter, Pininterest, LinkedIn and other social media friends and followers. Thank you for reading my posts, liking my posts and commenting on them. Your constant support and encouragement means the world to me.
To all the other wonderful independent authors that I've met on this journey - you are all amazing and you never fail to help a "newbie" when he's stuck. Thank you guys.
In fact, to anyone who has been part of this process, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
MARAMING MARAMING SALAMAT PO!
My second book "Just a Drop in the Ocean" is complete. I just need to get the editing done and it's good to go.
The sequel to "The Second Coming" is almost 75% complete. It is called "The Rise of the AntiChrist" and principally follows the lives of Maria and JC's two eldest children.
The third book in the series is entitled "Holy War" and is still just a figment of my imagination, but it is next on the production line.
You can read some information about these books elsewhere on this website under the heading: "My Books"
After that - well, the skies the limit. We are only limited by our imaginations!
At the end of the day: Writing truly is the most fun you can have - with your trousers on!
Till next week.
EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES LIFE PRESENTS TO YOU AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!
Have a great life and spread the love!
Changing the world – one reader at a time!