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?
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,
I actually went as far as writing myself a blog when I started thinking I should put the keyboard away. Thank you for the words of encouragement.
Such a great post, Steve! How do I reblog this?
Doh! Maybe it’s the giant REBLOG button on the top of the screen.
That’d be the one. Thanks for the re-blog, Lauren.
Reblogged this on laurenwaters and commented:
I just had to reblog this amazing post by author Steve Vernon. His words are so true and inspiring for anyone who is afraid to dip their toe into the self-publishing water. Thanks Steve!
Steve speaks the best sense there is. As long as your work has been proof read and edited, if you have faith in it PUBLISH. It may take some time but someone will buy it and if you’re lucky write a nice review which will sustain you for ages. Luck will keep you selling until the right person picks it up. Nowadays this is not vanity publishing as it once was, it’s a valid publishing move requiring a lot from an author. Go to it !
Great post! I’ve been self-publishing for awhile, but I also still submit to places.