Daily Archives: January 8, 2013

Don’t be afraid to self-publish!!!


I’m an old fart.

I’ve been writing for a LOOOONG time – like since the eighties.

First story was sold in 1986.

* * *

So what was going on in 1986?

Dolly Parton opened Dollywood – a theme park dedicate to all things Dolly.

Arnold Schwarznegger married Maria Schriver.

Top Gun was the #1 Top Grossing Film earning nearly 354 milllion dollars worldwide.

The world’s very first computer virus – called THE BRAIN – was created.

And I made my very first sale to OUTLAW BIKER magazine. It was a story entitled “The Bridge” – sort of a Mad Max on a motorcycle story. I earned $125.00 cash money for the sale of that story.

Hot damn, I thought, I”m going to be rich!

Well, things don’t necessarily work out the way you want them to.

* * *

So why am I telling you this?

Well – as is often the case – I came across a REALLY interesting question over on Kindleboards.

A writer – named Robin – was asking how we indie e-writers found the nerve to actually self-publish our work!

Basically, they were afraid of what other people might think of their work. What if no one bought it? What if it drew bad reviews? What if everyone laughed?

So I sat down to type up a reply. And then the reply got way too big to fit comfortably on a message forum entry.

So I decided to write this blog entry.


So, where was I?

Oh yes – I was about to get rich.

Well – unfortunately that was one of only two sales to biker magazines that I made – and the second magazine never paid me – so I found other markets – but that was okay – because mostly every market I sold to paid SOMETHING!

But I wanted to show people what I had written. I wanted people to see that – yes, indeed – I WAS A WRITER.

That sort of personal validation was awfully important to me. Might be it still is.

So I showed this magazine to my Dad.


Now, you have to understand about me and my Dad. Basically, I grew up separated from the man. I was raised by my grandparents in Northern Ontario. My Mom and Dad split up early. They were VERY young and had three kids and I guess things got to be too much for them. So Mom went back home to Nova Scotia and Dad travelled South looking for work. Eventually, he wound up in British Columbia.

Which made for VERY infrequent visits.

I’m not bitter, you understand.

Life happens sometimes.

Then – in around 1986 or 1987 Dad came to visit me. I was living in Nova Scotia by then. I was married with a child of my own – my daughter Sarah – who is almost thirty years old now.

Dad came to visit for a week. It was a big deal for me. I saw this as a chance to connect with someone I knew VERY little about. It didn’t help that I still had a job to get to. My window of opportunity was VERY limited.

By this point most of my sales had been made to small press magazines such as The Horror Show, After Hours, Terror Time Again, Not One of Us, Night Slivers and Cemetery Dance. These were almost all photocopied – although I had a couple of magazines that were mimeographed – and didn’t look all that impressive.

(Go and ask your granddaddy what a mimeograph was – and if he says “Gestetner” don’t you dare say “Gesundheit!”}

But I wanted to show my Dad something that I had actually written.

So I pulled out my contributor’s copy of Outlaw Biker.

Dad was horrified.

And – in hindsight – I can’t say I blamed him. That magazine had more bared boobs, bikes, beards and beer cans than you could shake a rap sheet at.

(Go and ask your granddaddy what a rap sheet was)

I cannot tell you how bad I felt at that point in time. I felt a little embarrassed and a little ashamed and experienced a whole lot of  self-doubt.

Did I let that self-doubt stop me from submitting my work?

Hell, no.

As the years went by I continued to write and submit.

Writers write. That’s what we do. And, having written, we do our best to get it into print.

Back then the only way I knew how was to send it out to magazine after magazine – to publisher after publisher – until somebody sent me back a letter that said “YES!”

Since 2011, I have become more involved with self-publishing – which takes a whole lot more chutzpah than sending stuff to “real” publishers. You see, when I was getting started in writing self-publishing was considered a pastime best left for the losers club.

It took me a long time to overcome that well-established conditioning.

Now – I cannot wait to get my next e-book out there.

I still deal with “real” publishers. I sell to anthologies and I publish novels and collections of ghost stories and the like. I have evolved into a hybrid writer.

And I never let fear hold me back.

So – Robin – and anyone else out there who is reading this blog entry – DO NOT LET FEAR HOLD YOU BACK.

Fear is a mind-killer.

Fear is a de-bollocker.

Nobody wants to be a de-bollocked deadhead – now do you?

Go forth and write.

Sell it where you can.

Self-publish or sell it to a publisher – whatever you do – get your words out there.

So endeth our sermon today.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

How many ways can you say “he said”???

Said is Dead

(the above illustration came from the TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS website. You hit this link and it will take you right there. Let me tell you something folks – I have worked with a LOT of kids at schools across Canada – and when I bring one of my storytelling workshops to a classroom those kids leave the classroom feeling inspired to go forth and read and write. I’m pretty good at what I do. However, without fail, some teacher or another will point it out to me – “Gee,” they will say. “You have a real gift for this work. Have you ever thought about being a teacher yourself?” But teaching – every day out of a school year – takes a degree of guts, passion and sheer determination that I do not possess. Teaching is HARD work. The next time you talk to a teacher make sure you shake their hand. They have earned it.)

I’ve got a confession to make.

I am a said-addict.

In fact, I’ve even had more than a few editors/publishers tell me – “Dude, you say said way more times than you ought to!”

(he said)

But sometimes, when you’re writing dialogue, nothing else will do!

I can’t tell you how many times I have hurled a book across the floor for one too many “he giggled”, “he chortled”, “he grunted”, or “he ejaculated”.

The fact was he didn’t do any of those things.

What he did was he “said” something.

My favourite example has to be from a book I read many years ago that involved the Spear of Destiny – the one that Roman soldier stuck in Christ’s side.

I can’t remember who wrote it.

One of the characters in the novel was a German general.

A panzer general.

“Why don’t you just say said?” the general rumbled.

Cool, I thought. A tank general who rumbles. I like that.

The first time I read it, that is.

Then, two pages later he rumbled again.

Then three paragraphs later.

It wasn’t too long before I started wondering how ANYONE could even understand just what the heck that dude was saying what with him rumbling all the time. I mean – did he have digestion problems? Were his clockworks wound too tightly? Not enough WD-40 in his diet?

Why was the dude rumbling?

But the author of that novel didn’t care. He kept that poor old general rumbling for at least sixteen chapters before he finally shot the dude.

Last words?

“I’m dying,” he rumbled.

Next time just say said!

(this blog entry owes much to the inspiration of a Kindleboards thread which you can read just by clicking HERE!)

Thanks, Dalya!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon