Publishing Choices and Proxy Dilemmas

After some time spent investigating options and some deep contemplation, I’ve decided to publish my first collection of work through Smashwords.com. Currently, I’m coding, testing, adjusting, and generally getting the ebook ready for public consumption. I’ll let you know when it’s available, and that should happen pretty soon.

Now, it’s important to mention that, per my earlier statement involving the release of my work, I decided to go with Smashwords for a few reasons:

  • I can get more visibility/findability through their distribution. Much more than I would were I to just put up a link here on my blog, leading to the file. Thus, there was the advantage of having my work showing up on a few book retailer sites, as well as being linked to from my blog.
  • I can still control the exact cost of the work. This was incredibly important to me. Thankfully, Smashwords allows authors to set a no-cost option for their work. Also, they honor Creative Commons licenses, under which my ebook will be issued. So I can successfully get a wider scope of possible readers while maintaining my desire to make my creative work available to folks for free.

As a side note, it makes sense for me to try to tackle some potential questions that might occur to readers — namely, why I’m so invested in giving my work away like this?

I confess that I have little confidence in the efficacy of “traditional” publishing avenues* for an author like myself. I also harbor strong doubts about the sustainability of the mainstream/traditional publishing model, overall. I don’t fault those who want to go that route; I simply feel that my direction will probably work best to help me achieve [what I define as] success.

I do think there are some people out there who are struggling to sustain small presses/publications where creative work of an unusual/experimental/niche nature can flourish, and I laud them for their efforts. But these entities are, in my opinion, too much of a mediator between myself and readers, creating some limitations. (For example, my work would only reach the set of that mag’s/small press’ readership.)

I’m more in favor of taking advantage of the Internet’s profound potential for connecting me and my work to an “unlimited” number of people, but with selection occurring on the level of the unfettered individual. One person at a time. Which is how I’d rather communicate anyway. OK, maybe in small groups. Like of about 5 or 6 people at a time.  Certainly no more than, say, 10 people at once.

And this is where things get tricky and problematic.

Because, at this point, the skeptical reader would say “But isn’t your choice to reach more readers through Smashwords (and the places it might distribute your work) still choosing to work through a mediator?” Yes, it is. It’s a confusing situation, assuredly. I want to deal with my audience directly and without proxy; yet I also know that virtually no one will find my work if I just post it on this website. It’s a compromise; but less of one, I feel, than going through any other publishing avenue. (Especially since most other avenues would require readers to pay something to own my work.) Perhaps, if enough people notice the work I’m putting out there, I can eventually deal with the an audience exclusively through my own site. But, until then, I’ll work as close as I can to my ideal without compromising any of my most valued principles.

*  By this I mean the tactic of: write >> submit >> submit again >> submit again >> try to get one story/novel published in a mag/small press/large press >> try to get another story/novel published by another mag/press >> etc.

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