My prior Mixed-Up blog entry introduced the Island of Misfit Books, populated by works that find themselves in publishing limbo: unsalable manuscripts; series books abandoned by their publisher; and other books with no traditional route to readers who would love them.
For the sake of those books, I’ve been gathering information about self-publishing and sharing with other authors who find themselves in a similar position.
So far we have learned that:
- Self-publishing is now called indie publishing because, like indie music and indie film, indie publishing sees itself as an underground movement. Whatever you do, don’t call it “vanity” publishing;
- Self-publishing has become more common and less stigmatized than in the past;
- Because of trends and market forces, traditional publishers are less willing or able to support midlist authors as they did in the past, and are putting more resources into short-lived blockbuster titles;
- Authors with hybrid careers, publishing both traditionally and independently, are becoming more common;
- For indie publishers, the rise of ebooks and print-on-demand technologies have eliminated the need for large print runs and warehousing expenses;
- Online retailers have automated the ordering and fulfillment process;
- Websites and social media have made powerful marketing tools inexpensively available to authors; and
- An independent marketplace for many of the services provided by traditional publishers—editorial, proofreading, design, layout, marketing, and publicity—have made it possible for indie books to be as polished and professional as traditionally published books.
Or in other words, for authors who believe strongly enough in their work, the Island of Misfit Books has a sleek fleet of escape boats.
One recent inspirational example of a middle grade escapee from the Island is…
The Sweet Spot by Stacy Barnett Mozer
When thirteen-year-old Sam Barrette’s baseball coach tells her that her attitude is holding her back, she wants to hit him in the head with a line drive. Why shouldn’t she have an attitude? As the only girl playing in the 13U league, she’s had to listen to boys and people in the stands screaming things like, “Go play softball!” all season just because she’s a girl. Her coach barely lets her play even though she’s one of the best hitters on the team.
All stakes now rest on Sam’s performance at baseball training camp. But the moment she arrives, miscommunication sets the week up for potential disaster. Placed at the bottom with the weaker players, she will have to work her way up to A League, not just to show Coach that she can be the best team player possible, but to prove to herself that she can hold a bat with the All-Star boys.
Mixed-Up Files author Stacy Barnett Mozer says:
Self-publishing The Sweet Spot was not an easy decision. I went the traditional route first. The book had an agent, spent a year in revision, got feedback from editors, went through more revision, but it didn’t sell. My agent suggested putting it in the drawer. I spent over a year working on other projects, but my heart was still in this book so I took out the editor feedback again and spent another two years revising it. I could have sent it back out there but the idea of taking control of the process became too enticing. It was the right decision for me and this book to do it myself.
What I have liked about self-publishing is that it has been up to me to get the book out there, to make sales, and to champion my work and since I have access to all of my sales, I can tell within a few hours whether something I tried worked. And getting the book out there hasn’t been completely my doing either. Every time someone has posted about my book on Facebook or written a review on Amazon, I have seen a bump in sales. It has not been easy, but at this point over a hundred kids all over the country are reading my book. That wouldn’t have happened if it had stayed in my drawer.
Inspired by Stacy’s success, I’m building my own escape raft for…
Galaxy Games, Book 2 by Greg R. Fishbone
Galaxy Games, Book 1: The Challengers was the story of Tyler Sato, who turned eleven and got a star named in his honor…
which turned out to be a doomsday asteroid…
which then turned out to be an alien spaceship!
Tyler found himself at the center of the most important event in human history, and only his last-second victory over an alien challenger could secure Earth’s invitation to the greatest sports tournament in the galaxy.
I thought it’s a great story, but I also wrote it, so I’m biased. But my agent thought it was a good story, my editor thought it was a good story, my publisher thought it was a good story, and that it would make money. A whole bunch of talented folks helped turn it into an actual book, and I was very grateful to have them on my team. Readers thought it was a good story too, or at least the ones I’ve heard from. It’s just a shame there weren’t enough of them to maintain an ongoing series.
And that’s how GG#2 ended up on The Island of Misfit Books.
I resisted the self-publishing route for a long time after the series cancellation because I didn’t want to be a publisher. I’ve already done that once, and I hated it. Back in the 1990s, I published Mythic Heroes magazine, working long hours with tight deadlines. I read submissions, purchased stories, commissioned artwork, managed an editorial staff, put layouts together, took out advertisements, dealt with a printing company, a shipping company, warehouses, and distributors, handled returns, and acted as corporate attorney, accountant, and IT department.
There was so much grunt work that I didn’t have any time left for actually writing anything, which was why I’d started the magazine in the first place.
But today, an ebook can be put together with HTML, which is like a second language to me. And now you’re telling me that I no longer have to front for a print-run and fill my garage with boxes? Sold!
2015 is not 1995. It’s a brave new world, with fewer excuses than ever for a good book to remain cooped up on an island, on a USB drive, or in a desk drawer.
Which is why I am pleased to announce, officially, that by this time next year you will be able to hold a copy of Galaxy Games, Book 2 in your hands!
Or loaded into your favorite device, which would also be located in or near your hands. Either way, Tyler Sato’s next adventure will be in close proximity to your fingers very soon.
In Book 2, we will discover the high personal cost of Tyler’s victory, and the new danger that will emerge as the Earth team ventures into the galaxy for the very first time. The story world will expand, the stakes will be raised, mysteries will be revealed, and new characters will be introduced.
There are several places you can go to keep up with Galaxy Games news. The Mixed-Up Files blog, of course, but also galaxygam.es, where a new series website is coming together. It’s an early beta, so your feedback and comments are welcome.
And since I won’t have a traditional publishing house behind this second book, I would love to have you on Team Tyler as we launch this boat off the shores of the Island.
Greg R. Fishbone is the author of galactic fiction for young readers.