Friday, June 22, 2012

The Decision to Self Publish - Guest Post: Benjamin X. Wretlind

I am a big fan of Benjamin X. Wretlind's blog, so I was absolutely thrilled when I had the opportunity to have him do a guest post here as part of his Sketches from the Spanish Mustang blog tour. Benjamin was kind enough to allow me to pick from the tour topics. I chose "The Decision to Self Publish," and he did not disappoint.  Without further ado, here are Benjamin’s thoughts on self publishing:

I want to thank Michelle for allowing me to post on her blog. As fellow Indie authors, it's important to reach out and help each other whenever possible. Michelle offered to help me on this Blog Tour, and I appreciate it most sincerely.

It's not an easy task we take on, either. Being an Indie author means not only writing, but editing (or finding editors), formatting for electronic or print, publishing, navigating the maze of marketing, following through on interviews, attempting to generate support, etc.  Being an Indie author is, at times, exhausting, and those of you who have put your foot forward and your work out there know what I mean.

It's also rewarding in more ways than one. Sure, the royalty payments are higher, but if you're not writing for money then you really don't care as much about that as some people think you do. The reward comes from doing all the work and seeing it through to fruition. At least, that's the way I feel about it.

I didn't start out with the grand notion of being an Indie author. In fact, I had every intention of getting an agent, signing contracts that were explained to me because I can't read legal mumbo-jumbo and letting someone else do all the editing, formatting, publishing and marketing.  In my fantasy world (and we all live in those, sometimes), I was going to write and someone else was going to do all the work. If my cover looked like every other cover out there, so be it. Who was I to judge the expertise of the marketing roundtable at XYZ Publishing, Inc.? I was going to sit back and rake in the money while I wrote even more.

Like so many other people, I sent out query letters and wrote synopsises...synopsi...synopsiseses...outlines that were designed to make an agent's or a publisher's job easier by limiting the amount of stuff they had to read. But those literary kings and queens were the best in the business, so if they wanted to judge my work by a single-page query or a synopsis, that was the right thing to do. They knew the business and like so many other things in corporate life, you trust the manager, sit down, shut up and color. If you couldn't follow their strict guidelines on what to present to them, if your one minute "elevator" pitch was two seconds too long, if your query letter didn't follow the format of the agent's bestselling work, then you could have a nice day.
Awesome! Corporate America here I come.

Well Corporate America can kiss my ass. It didn't take long for me to realize that the rules put in place by these agents and publishers were restrictive to the point of being laughable. You pretty much had to know someone or get lucky to land a contract, and if you were anything like me (anonymous), you weren't getting your foot in the door. That's not to say there aren't good people out there landing good contracts, and you're probably saying that I'm bitter or have sour grapes, and I don't blame you for thinking that.

It's not true, though. You see, I didn't spend years putting query letters and synopsi...syn...things together and get rejected hundreds of times. If I did that and *then* I went the Indie route, it would have certainly given me sour grapes. No, I stopped at the beginning after researching both publishing avenues. I said I wasn't going to put myself into a corporate mess despite the stigma of being an Indie author. I was in the military for 20 years, and I vowed to never live under so many rules again.

As an Indie author, I would retain creative control even though I would have to work my butt off to get anything done.

As an Indie author, I would learn if some marketing tactic worked or not--on my time, through my methods--and I wouldn't have to rely on a publisher to tell me that was none of my business.

As an Indie author, I would be able to write what I wanted without worrying about what would make the corporation money, and if a book didn't make as much money as another book, I wouldn't worry about being "cut."
As an Indie author, I could stick to writing fiction instead of genre or compartmentalized fiction, and if wanted to write a romance, then I could, even if all my other work was horror or science fiction.

As an Indie author, I could work for the reader, not for the company.

I don't like corporations, and although I'm stuck in one right now as part of that "day job" thing, I wouldn't volunteer to work for one if I had the choice.

Being an Indie author--being self-published--is the best thing that could have happened to me. There is freedom, there is responsibility, and there is a direct connection between what you write and what the reader reads.
And this writer has no intention of working for anyone else but you.

Benjamin X. Wretlind, the author of Castles: A FictionalMemoir of a Girl with Scissors and Sketches from the Spanish Mustang, has been called "a Pulitzer-caliber writer" with "a unique American voice." Aside from novels, he has been published in many magazines throughout the past 10 years.

In Sketches from the Spanish Mustang, a haunting, heart-warming and often brutally direct exploration of the lives of seven people in the mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado, a woman must come to grips with the failings that cost the lives of her husband and child. Bestselling author Michael K. Rose says: "Mr. Wretlind has penned a tale of such emotional and literary depth it will haunt the reader long after the last page is turned."
With a pencil, a sketchbook and a keen eye for the details of the soul, the woman's lines and smudges, curves and tone reveal the stories behind her subjects. Life emerges on the page — vengeance, salvation, love and death. The artist's subjects fight for survival, only to be saved in the sketches of a woman with a gift . . . and a curse.
International Book Award winner Gregory G. Allen calls the book a "unique journey that rips away the outer layers of people allowing us to stare into their souls where humanity is universal: no matter the genre of writing."
Sketches from the Spanish Mustang will be available at all major online retailers for $14.95 on July 1st, 2012.  It will also be presented in an electronic format (e.g. Kindle, nook) for $5.95.

Thank you so much Benjamin! Working for the reader – I love that! Please be sure to check out the other stops on his tour and enter the Sketches from the Spanish Mustang giveaways at the bottom of that blog tour preview page!


  1. Congrats on the decision! I haven't researched the world of publishing in much detail myself. However, when I see myself publishing something in the future I always picture the "self-publishing" route. Nothing can beat doing things on your own terms, in your own way and communicating directly to your audience!

    Thanks for a great post and good luck with the book!

    1. Thanks! I love having creative control. That could mean I'm a control freak, but that's okay. It's important the work be what I envisioned and not what sells according to some focus group.

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    1. It would also be helpful if I hit "reply" instead of starting a new thread. :P