A short time ago, I launched the Facebook page for "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain," a novel I've been working on since early last year. It's the story of thirteen year-old Alexander and his outrageous fears of daily life in middle school. His fears of what might happen spiral out of control, until he feels compelled to confront a boy he perceives to be his arch-enemy. It's a fun little novel that's had an eight year evolution that began with a few casual comic drawings and an award-winning (but unproduced) screenplay. It's also my first novel, and so fulfills a life-long ambition. With the help of my editor / proofreader (in the guise of my niece, who does that sort of thing for a living), I'm almost ready to send Alexander out into the world.
Aside from the not-inconsequential task of actually writing the novel, it's become relatively easy to self-publish these days. Amazon, Barnes and Noble's Nook and Apple's iBook are becoming more and more widespread, and the pathway to preparing a book for publication is relatively straightforward - even more so when using one of several low-cost services that specialize in physically preparing works for those devices. Createspace, Amazon.com service that currently offers my documentary Bollywood Steps both as a physical DVD and on-demand video, also provides a similar service for paperback books. Amazon manufactures books on demand as consumers order them. My costs, depending upon the services I chose, can range from nothing to several hundred dollars. For a minor expense, my work is available to the world.
In recent years, self-publishing is less seen as so-called "vanity publishing" as a legitimate pathway to a potential audience. It still takes quality work, word of mouth, and a bit of creative marketing - but it no longer requires the approval of a "gatekeeper."
Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't mind someday achieving the still valuable legitimacy of being distributed by a mainstream publisher. At the same time, I'm not willing to shop around a manuscript for untold years when I can reach my intended audience directly.
I don’t care how old or how young you are - life is too short not to take a leap of faith. We’re living in the age of the entrepreneur - nothing is stopping us from at least giving it a try.
Naturally, I'm a bit anxious to see how this will all unfold - and if I can, in fact, reach the young audience I believe would most enjoy the book. Will ten people read it? One Hundred? One Thousand? Have I done my job as a writer? As a marketer? It's a great, exciting challenge.
"Food Chain" is part of a broader effort I’ve undertaken to discover how I might better employ social media to achieve my personal and professional goals. I'll assess how that effort is moving along in my next blog.