Welcome to Saturday Spotlight. A feature hosted by Tina’s Book Reviews as a way of shining the light on Indie/Debut/Self Published authors. Each week I’ll have a guest post written by a featured author.
For Art's Sake: Publishing on My Own Terms
I self-publish my Vampires of New England series, but I never think of myself as an "indie author," or even "a writer." I define myself as an artist who works in multiple media, one of which is the written word. To me, all artists are independent.
My passion for vampires, in fiction and folklore, has blazed for over forty years. The level of scholarship I devote to the subject extends to owning unpublished doctoral dissertations. But I'm a very critical consumer of the genre. So, when I started writing my own vampire fiction, I built it from my personal interests, a lifetime of experiences and knowledge, and the potential I saw for the fictional vampire to reflect realistic, contemporary human issues and dilemmas.
In other words, I write exactly the kind of vampire fiction that I most want to read, and can't easily find anywhere else.
I never hoped for mass popularity, because I abandoned so many of the common conventions (like fangs, or "incendiary sunlight") that most vampire fiction readers seem to expect. I knew where all those conventions came from (mostly the movies, not literature) and I found them silly. But readers enjoy having their expectations satisfied, and they have to trust an author before they'll accept something that goes off the familiar trail.
I wrote part of one novel (the story that would become The Longer the Fall) in the mid-1990s for a vampire fiction-writing egroup called Vampyres List. I only got one half of my novel posted before I ran into a snag and stopped, but it still won the list's "Golden Fang" award for that year. I wrote most of what would become Mortal Touch as a participant in National Novel Writing Month in 2005, and started a third novel, as well. But from 1995 on, I was in graduate school full time for three years, and after that took a demoralizing and draining job in human services.
In 2006, I came into some money that allowed me to pay off my staggering student loans and leave Hell Job, and I could finally focus on finishing my novels and getting them published. But I didn't try to submit them to any agents or publishers. I never even considered it.
I cared about the integrity of the vampire genre too much. I knew that my books didn't fall into any obvious categories, like paranormal romance or urban fantasy. I knew that as a first-time author, my stories would probably be changed to include all the clichés I hated, to make them "commercial." I knew that they'd get stupid-looking covers, probably a leering Dracula type or a sexy female with fangs hanging down to his or her chin like walrus tusks. I knew that I would have no control over any of these things whatsoever, and I cared about that—desperately. I knew that I had the expertise, experience and skills to publish my work—and other authors—and I had no illusions about what that would take.
I put myself through nearly a year of self-education about the publishing industry, book production, marketing, promotion, distribution…the works. I joined trade organizations, went to seminars and workshops, and read small press forums. This learning process has never stopped. I didn't see "the ebook revolution" coming, but the second the Kindle rolled out in 2007, we were on it. In running my small press, By Light Unseen Media, I've found my dream job, the work I was born to do, the career for which I unknowingly trained all my life, the thing I want to be doing with my last breath. Writing, editing, design, acting, story-telling, computer programming, and a lifelong passion for both books and vampires—they're all in there.
It's harder to be an "indie" now than it was in 2007. The corporate media industry is circling its wagons very effectively. But I don't do it for me. I do it for the love of vampires, and the love of books. I do it for my authors, and for my readers, and for my characters, as real to me as the people next door. It's because of them that I'll never stop.
Inanna Arthen is a NeoPagan politically radical geek artist. A lifelong scholar of vampire folklore, fiction and fact, she is the author of the contemporary realistic fantasy series, Vampires of New England: Mortal Touch (2007) and The Longer the Fall (2010). Book 3, All the Shadows of the Rainbow, will be released in 2012. She is a designer, writer, and coder, and runs By Light Unseen Media, an independent press dedicated to publishing vampire fiction and nonfiction. She is a member of Broad Universe, New England Horror Writers, Horror Writers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE). For more information, see http://inannaaarthen.com
Buy Links: Mortal Touch - The Longer Fall
Giveaway: Inanna will ship a signed paperback edition of either Mortal Touch or The Longer the Fall—take your pick—anywhere in the world. Description and sample excerpts of each book are available at inannaarthen.com, bylightunseenmedia.com , or the book's Amazon detail page. Please be sure to specify which book you want, and how you'd like it personalized.
Giveaway ends Saturday July 7th. Winner announced Sunday July 8th
To enter: Please leave a comment below with a way to contact you if you win.