Q & A with JP Paul - Part VIII
Would you consider self-publishing?
Not only did I consider it, I embraced it 100%. I've worked with digital technology for decades. None of the mechanics of self-publishing phase me or the team I work with. I've always worked diligently to promote myself, my own work and that of others. What I decided upon was something we like to call group publishing, a collaborative method where we work as a unit to utilize each other's strengths. Artfronts Associates is only part-time for me but they have professionals who dominate the areas I need help with. This includes editors, beta readers, graphics layout designers, not to mention field specialists for research and marketing specialists for promotion. Artfronts Associates has essentially created an in-house publishing firm that offers almost everything you'd need and often get from the traditional publishers. Combining those skills with the ease of publishing through Amazon and other indie service providers is a perfect scenario for many aspiring writers, especially for foreigners. It's defniitely more costly and time consuming for those unfamiliar with the process. The good news is you maintain all rights for all publications for eternity.
Why is publishing different for foreigners?
Glad you asked. In today's publishing circuit, the hefty book advances and multiple-title contracts are reserved for established authors, with the occasional exception. Advances for newcomers are minimal plus authors are expected to participate heavily in self promotion. I had initial conversations with two publishers with editors willing to take on Rattle and would have gladly signed with either. The deciding factor for the marketing departments was that I was not based in North America to participate in tours, seminars and readings. As I am transitioning from visual arts to literature, my social platform for written works is also tiny, plus my local market isn't even English speaking! All considered, we mutually agreed to pass for now. Thousands of international writers faced with the same issues make the same decision every year.
My group is still pushing me to look for a larger publisher for RATTLE with wider exposure in the English-speaking world. We'll see how it goes with Amazon distribution before deciding on the other releases. I plan to be involved in marketing regardless of how, where and by whom my works are published. Like I mentioned earlier, I'm a people person. I love to be out and about. For a foreigner like me, that involves amplifiying my internet presence since frequent international travel to North America is expensive. Even though I've been actively writing online material for two decades, I need to ramp up current exposure.
This of course brings up the question I'm often asked, "Why does an author need a major publisher if they've already developed a large online following?" The simple answer is that publisher services all have major value to an author. Editing, career management, connections, access to reviewers and distribution logistics are very important. Nobody refutes the prestige of being represented by a notable imprint. But yes, unless there's some financial commitment to your work from a publisher, I think over time most authors can build a network of professionals to help them while they maintain 100% control of their work.
I believe Rattle warrants a wider readership than I can muster on my own. Most authors feel the same about their works, otherwise none of us would bother given the time required to complete a novel. That said, have book, will travel. Some say that the best marketing for a novel is the next novel. That's why I'm planning to release a few works over the next two years. I fully expect my time will be divided between promotion and production. What profession is any different? Whether it's trad or self-pub, the works will get out there.
Every time I put dates on my future plans, I miss them due to more career tangents and our meandering family path. I've been helping some friends build a visual art gallery so I haven't had much time for my own work. That, along with my role with the CPF Foundation, have kept me busy, as has my role as a stay-at-home parent to raise our youngest son. I'm still putting final touches on Scenes From Below the Curb for release in 2018, with Harbinger Effect sometime soon thereafter but not necessarily in that order. I also have a couple of other shorter pieces on the go that I may decide to publish as e-shorts. I expect to remain very busy for years to come!
November 2017: Questions were culled from conversations and correspondence with author JP Paul.