1 February 2023
A few years ago, when I started writing Surrender, I knew I was going to publish it independently, because I’d experienced “failure to launch,” with not one, but two other books. Those other books were both non-fiction and both good. On the recommendation of the editor of one of them, I sent off the manuscript to a list of agents he knew, who all said no or not now, and then I sent it to a bigger list of agents I’d researched who said much the same.
I didn’t want to go through that again with Surrender. Not only is it time consuming, but I felt some of the agents I’d contacted were making a distinctly non-literary judgement about me. They wanted to know my social media reach. On social media, practically nobody knows me as a novelist. So the agent route seemed like an exercise I didn’t need to try again.
Publishing Surrender isn’t my first self-publishing rodeo. (Terrible metaphor; kind of a fun mental image.) I’ve published five non-fiction books independently, but Surrender will be my first indie-published novel. The community-building, brand-building, and name-making is the hard part of this, harder than the writing, actually. The simple part is setting up an independent publishing imprint. Mine is called FutureX.Studio.
From the start, I wanted readers to have an alternative to Amazon. Amazon is a powerful distributor, but it competes with bookstores, so bookstores hate Amazon. Amazon can also be overly controlling of your rights, pricing, and promotion. Amazon can decide whether your book shows up in the top search results. When people want to order your book, Amazon can say it’s unavailable or will take weeks to deliver. And Amazon is owned by a plutocrat who wants to encourage colonizing other planets instead of fixing our relationship to our home planet, and he’s not even Elon Musk, but close enough. (End of one-sentence rant.)
Still, Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla online, so on February 15, I will list paperback and ebook editions of Surrender on Amazon. The indie alternatives where you can buy it right now are bookshop.org, where a portion of your purchase benefits independent booksellers, Barnes & Noble, the UK-based Book Depository, and indiebound, which links you to your local bookstore to purchase. Yes, a subtle suggestion right there to buy Surrender. Probably too subtle, but hey, we’re just getting started here. The book doesn’t come out officially for another two weeks.
I’m enjoying reading Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. It’s a heartfelt romance/anti-romance set in the world of creating video games. And I’m reading The Singularities by John Banville, a writer whom I mistakenly assumed stopped writing after I finished reading a book of his so long ago, but no, he’s written many more since then. Sourdough by Robin Sloan was a fun read, with its mix of baking, coding, foodie and tech culture. I review books now and again on Literal, an alternative to Goodreads.
I am seeing more clearly now after eye surgery and I wrote about it here.
Thanks for reading,
(c) Lee Schneider 2023. Take care of each other. Subscribe.