Today we are pleased to have a special guest post by one of our Tuesday Serial contributors, Aaron M. Wilson. His Tuesday Serial “Bike Mechanic” ended up as one part of a longer work called “The Many Lives of Inez Wick” that he has self-published via Lulu. In this special guest post, Aaron discusses how he came to the decision to self publish, how he approached the editing process, how he found his cover designer and how he has approached the marketing for his book. Thanks, Aaron, for sharing your journey with us! Aaron would be happy to answer any questions from readers, so please chime in via the comments.
Self-Publishing The Many Lives of Inez Wick via Lulu by Aaron M. Wilson
To self-publish or not to self-publish is a question that I’ve seen better debated by others, such as Tony Noland and Tonya R. Moore. Part of my job as an instructor of Environmental Science, English, and Literature is to seek publication, make a name for myself that the school can use to attract students. However, I’m not so vain as to assume I’ve accomplished such magnetism or will any time soon. Yet, the pressure and desire exist to see my work published, to share my stories with a larger audience than my writers group (and selfishly, make a buck or two). The struggle is that, and perhaps these are my personal feelings and insecurities, self-publication is not respected in academia. The science community believes in peer-review, a necessary process that reduces error and should prevent faulty method and fringe findings from muddying the theoretical waters. Just as, the literary community has trusted editors and publishers to protect and uphold the standards of canonical quality. I believe, however, that entertainment, enjoyment, and literary quality can be found outside those traditional gatekeepers.
I wholeheartedly believe in the editor-writer process that was perfected by the publishing industry. I enjoy the back and forth, the feedback-revision process, that hones a story into a great read. My stories “The Paperless Doctrine of 2152” in The Last Man Anthology and “What’s For Dinner” in Cifiscape Vol. I, The Twin Cities are better having gone through the editorial process. The editors pushed me to cut sections that diluted the action or obscured the plot, and they asked for expanded scenes and closer attention to setting. Having experienced the transformative power of the editorial and revision process, I sought to include it in the process of self-publishing The Many Lives of Inez Wick.
While researching short story collections, I discovered two trends that I admired. First, I was impressed with collections that contained linked stories, such as The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman and Drown by Junot Diaz. I saw that these books functioned in two worlds: short story and novel. I wanted to follow their example. Secondly, I noticed that most collections include previously published short stories. Thus, I sought publication for many of the stories. Four of the seven were previously published, and one is still forthcoming in a future anthology. However, before these stories ever saw the light of publication, they went through many revisions.
The feedback-revision process started with my writers group. We met once a month, to read, edit, and provide feedback. The majority of my stories start with them. I say start because I give them the fresh ideas on paper and they help me, through feedback, to create stories. Thus, when I was ready to collect and publish a linked collection of short stories, I put the collection, as a whole, back through the process. I sought and used the advice of those I trusted to help me create an entertaining collection of stories. First and foremost, my wife and author of Blameless Mouth, Jessica Fox-Wilson, and secondly, the talented author and poet, Darci Schummer. Each of them spent countless hours editing and providing feedback on the collection, without which the collection would have been much less clean and cohesive. I found the editorial process that I needed outside the publishing world.
Beyond the editing and crafting of the collection, I sought out an artist and paid for the cover art. The cover art options available through the self-publishing tools were not attractive to me in the least. I knew that I would need to commission artwork for the cover. I got lucky. I asked Bob Lipski, the author and illustrator of Uptown Girl, to design a cover for my book. If you are interested in Lipski’s cover art process, you can read his blog post, Cover Me.
Now that the book is out in the world, I’m beginning the marketing process. I’m new to marketing and the process of getting the word out about my fiction. I see the self-publication and marketing of The Many Lives of Inez Wick as a work in progress. There is little to no overhead in the print-on-demand world of book publishing, so I don’t feel the pressure of a warehouse full of product that I need to quickly unload. I can take my time. I can publicize as opportunity and time permits. The next step in the marking process is creating a blog tour.
I also did some pre-release marketing. While my editors had the book and I waited to see what I would need to revise, I created a Facebook Product Page to market to my friends and acquaintances. Having people I knew “like” the product page helped me keep focus and finish. Then, when I was ready to launch the book, I created a virtual release party to refocus the attention of those I knew on Facebook to help me celebrate the book release (and hopefully sell a couple of copies to them).
To close, I feel lucky to have had such support in the publication process. To all those who have helped bring The Many Lives of Inez Wick into the world: THANK YOU! If you like this post and want to know more about The Many Lives of Inez Wick or just want to chat, check out the Facebook page or my personal blog, Soulless Machine.