24 January 2014

Making Book: The Mythical One-Man Band

(With apologies to Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

Just in case it wasn't clear before: THURSDAY'S CHILDREN is self-published. Yes, I said self-published. I know some writers prefer the term "indie author," but I don't feel the need for that bit of dress-up. Let's call a spade a spade. This one book will not bring me any sort of fame or fortune. Nobody in the history of the world has ever gotten rich off a frickin' short story collection.

The main reason I'm publishing at all is to commemorate a personal milestone, and to share it with my family and friends. I've written more than two hundred and fifty stories, y'all. That's a hell of a thing. I want to celebrate it, and you're invited to join me. That's all.

So I'm self-publishing this book for fun. I am doing the work mostly by myself, but I'm not doing it alone. What's the difference? I'm not alone, because I couldn't do any of this without the infrastructure and systems that others have already built.

It's like Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) says:

There is an entire Internet of resources that I've taken advantage of, and which have been absolutely necessary for this project. I don't begrudge any of those other individuals and organizations the money I've paid for their tools or the time I've spent learning how to use them.

Here's a short list of just some of the software, sites, and services I've used in the creation of this book: Scrivener, Microsoft Word, GIMP, Emacs, Lulu, Createspace, Amazon, BookBaby, Blogger, Gmail, Chrome, Flickr, and PayPal.

(By the way, that list doesn't include all the standards—file formats, network protocols, and more—that make it possible for me to turn my raw data into something humans will want to look at. For example: HTML/XHTML, CSS, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, PDF, DOC/DOCX, MOBI, EPUB, and ZIP, to name just a few.)

And then there are the people, actual human beings, who helped me with the production process: DeeAnn Sole, my redoubtable editor; Laura Mixon, who wrote a fantastic introduction; and Natalie Metzger, who created the amazing cover art and interior illustrations. Plus there are all the 512 readers who gave feedback over the last five years, and my fellow writers who offered invaluable publishing advice. (You'll find a more complete list in the Acknowledgements section at the back of the book.)

I could have made the book without these people, but it would have been a much inferior thing.

Nobody creates in a vacuum. If nothing else, any artist needs an audience for her work; sometimes it's an audience of one, but in most cases, we want a plurality to see and enjoy our work. At the very least, it's asking yourself: "Will anybody else care about this?" And in a world of seven billion people, the answer is probably YES. Then it's a matter of crafting your work so that it's meaningful and appealing, to whatever degree satisfies your sensibilities, commercial or otherwise.

It's okay to make art for art's sake, and not expect to reap a dime of financial reward. I mean, hell, I spend who knows how many hours making at least a dozen free puzzling events every year, and even spend my own hard-earned money (and precious time) to subsidize their creation. I do this because I want to share those fun things with other like-minded people. If I get something tangible in return, great. I'm not expecting it. That's not why I do the work.

All that is to say that I don't expect to break even on self-publishing THURSDAY'S CHILDREN. (You know the old joke: How do you make a small fortune in publishing? Well, you start with a large fortune...) I don't expect to sell more than a hundred copies of the book—if that many—and that's just fine. I'm doing this for love, not money. And we will do things for love that we would not do for any amount of money.