Shifting gears? No.

While this blog has largely been about my ongoing and completed art projects, I sometimes touch on writing issues.  See, I didn’t start out thinking of myself as an “artist”–still don’t, it’s not that accurate when you think of the concepts that go into a work of art.  I’m more of a visual storyteller.  Anyway, I used to see myself as a potential writer.  So, I thought it would be cool if I could write and illustrate.

So, financed by a lucrative “library career” scheme, I set to work trying to perfect the right balance of storytelling and illustration.  Graphic novels, too much.  But illustrated books?  Just about right, except I’d like to do something for adults as well as kids.  While I’ve nothing against kids, I suspect my ideas would just scare them and annoy their parents.

The trouble is and always was: how do you get published?  I went to conventions, I tried to schmooze with
the insiders, and learned there’s a reason they’re called insiders.  I read just about everything I could on publishing, until I was filled up to the eyes with crap about jumping through the right hoops, persisting in sending out stories (just not to us), and how I should just keep writing.  Yep, did the short story submission thing, wrote a few bad novels for practice, until I started to suspect that the publishing industry simply couldn’t be open to new authors anymore.  Frankly, I suspect that the readers of most literary and science fiction magazines are just authors trying to get published in those magazines.  The industry is eating itself alive.

Which is why I find this Threat Quality post on self-publishing so interesting.  I’ve mainly thought of self-publishing as a way to make my own aesthetic decisions about the work I create, since the books I envision are complete works of art.  But it seems the technology and the time is ripe for something more.  Recently I also read this article by Time Columnist Lev Grossman on the future of books.  It’s definitely worth reading, since it posits that e-books are going to increase self-publishing, decrease writer’s wages, and essentially challenge the publishing industry to change their archaic “gatekeeper” mentality.  Maybe by crowdsourcing their selection?  Sucks for editors, but hey, then they can go back to actually developing books and authors.

While on the surface the electronic format doesn’t seem to offer much for my own goals, I think that the possibilities are just starting to bloom.  There’s plenty of web comics already out there, and I personally like the idea of DIY print-on-demand, giving people a PDF and letting them print their own copy, with instructions for folding it up into a nice booklet that they can bind however they like.  Or online books with integrated, dynamic illustrations.  So I plan to move further along in that direction this year.  I’ll start small, just a few little books, as I get the hang of it.  Keep an eye out until then.

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