Sunday, March 6, 2011

Why I'm going Indie ~ the long trail to print

Actually, I'm not going Indie, I've been Indie a long, long time. I started on the web back in the nineties when the internet was all text and the closest thing to social media was newsgroups and internet relay chat (IRC) over dial-up. I built my first internet portal site using clip art and free web-space at Angelfire. I was hooked. I started out as neolythic ~ my hacker name, a pun on Neo from the Matrix and the fact that I was twice the age of most of the coders I knew.

Before Web2.0 was born, and social media became king, I frequented chat rooms, forums, and played early mmorpg's. Electronic publishing and eBooks were a dream of the future when I had the idea for an online, interactive novel. ArchAngelxx was developed as a web journal, posted one chapter at a time, following the tale of hackers using the computers they controlled to brainwash unsuspecting users. The original was in first person, and shattered the fourth wall by bringing the reader into the story ~ actually contacting the reader via e-mail at one point in the story with a warning from the hero.

I had become a novelist in the pursuit of providing content for my website. Then blogs were born, and Facebook, Myspace, Twitter... The internet was going social, and books were being produced in various electronic formats. I turned from my internet coding and into serious writing. My second novel, which was to be another interactive website, became an eBook instead on what was then the new MobiPocket eBook platform. The codebase and market website promised an eBook that could be read on any mobile device from a laptop to a smart phone. It eventually provided the code foundation for the Kindle Reader.

When Kindle hit the scene I ported both of my titles, ArchAngelxx (in eBook form) and Cybrgrrl to Amazon Digital Publishing. The ArchAngelxx website had been a big hit, and the eBook had quickly hit MobiPocket's best seller list. Cybrgrrl soon surpassed ArchAngelxx on the Kindle and remains a steady seller. But my dreams of publishing went to printed books and author appearances, signing books and meeting fans. You can't sign an eBook. I guess you could sign someones Kindle or Nook, if they were a really big fan. But I digress.

I wanted the New York dream, so I wrote, I polished, I queried, and all but stopped coding. I started writing freelance, entered contests, kept writing novels, joined crit groups, took classes, and kept querying. But the times have changed, and I have always enjoyed being on the bleeding edge. Yet there I was, circling the prize on the query-go-round. I kept seeing, even writing about the innovations in Indie publishing. The Indie movement was blossoming, and I kept hearing tales from traditionally published authors of bad contracts, low pay, and lack of help from publishers promoting their books. So I stepped back and took an honest look at publishing and what I wanted as an artist.

First on that list was a desire to have my writing published for readers to read. That's what had prompted me to put ArchAngelxx on the internet for the world to see, that's why I wrote articles and content for websites. It definitely wasn't the money. But I saw acquaintances, fellow writers, land agents only to spend a year or more chasing publishers and eventually being dropped by their agents to start the process again. Some sold books, but waited two years or more for them to reach market and then some died on the shelves from lack of promotion. I'm reviewing an author soon that spent four years from agent to published book. I'm too old for that.

I'll be fifty this year. My own personal time table when I started years ago was to be published in print by fifty. I decided I could keep querying and maybe debut a book in four or five years, or I could start publishing what I've written and have multiple novels out by then. I have the technical skills, so the publishing doesn't intimidate me. That's the one big thing that holds many writers back from self-publishing. And these days authors end up shouldering most of the book promotion even with the big New York publishing houses. So that isn't an issue either way.

Second thing on the list was a need to create. I love to write and I love to code. Again, that's what got all of this started, and what led me to build that first website, and learn to ePublish my books. That thrill of learning new things and mastering new skills has always driven me forward. The idea of creating a complete book from manuscript to book-block and cover design to market intrigues me. I may not hit the best seller list, but if I do it will be my story, my book design, my cover, and my promotion that gets me there.

Then, of course there is the age issue. If I were younger, maybe I would play the game a bit longer, but then again maybe not. If I were younger I would more likely have went Indie and stayed Indie from the start. But the skills learned and the knowledge gained over the years chasing agents and publishers has been well worth the effort. And I'm not getting younger, I'm almost fifty ~ too young to quite, but too old to waste any more time.

So the obvious decision was made. New York will always be there, and some Indie's are already being offered book deals after their self-pubs proved to be marketable. What I really want is to write, publish, and promote my novels. I want to go to a convention and meet fans and sign books. I want to design a cover that fits my words perfectly then feel the printed book in my hand. I'm not going to get that with a big New York publishing conglomerate. I'm going to get a smallish advance I have to split with an agent, a book design and cover I may not like, and if I want to go to a convention and sign books, I'll still have to pay my own way.

I started Underground Press Publishing over a decade ago when I first had the idea for ArchAngelxx and first bought web-space from GoDaddy. All of my eBooks have been published through the Underground Press. Now I have an account with a POD printer and distributor so I can at last see those books in print. My books will be available through Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and in the major wholesale catalogs for Indie bookstores to order, here and in Europe. I'm also porting them to Nook and all future titles will come out in print, as-well-as on Nook and Kindle.

So now, dear friends, I am a serious Indie Publisher ~ no longer walking the line between pubing on Kindle and querying New York. Underground Press Publishing is in the game, and we are bringing Southern charm, and Tar Heel tenacity to the publishing world. If there is anything we can do for y'all, just give me a shout here, on FB or Twitter, or drop me an email.



  1. Thanks. Right where I belong I think ;-)

  2. Congratulations! I wish you so much success.I know first hand that holding a copy of your book is priceless. Please let us know when your books are in print. I, for one, would love to buy copies.

    (Oh, and by the way, fifty's not really old.) :)

  3. Thanks for the encouragement. And don't worry, I'll be screaming it from the housetops when the first book comes out ;-)

  4. Max,
    Nice, love your post and share your sentiments. Life is too short to wait for years to have something published, and it's great to have alternative means by which to do it.
    Congratulations on moving into print on your own terms. And though you may be older, you are also certainly wiser, and that is something only time could have provided.
    By the way, fifty is the new thirty, so don't worry. "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
    -Mark Twain

  5. Thanks Eden. It's true age and experience can be a plus. I'm comfortable with the business side, which younger writers might find intimidating.

    I'm excited with the challenge. I don't know about 50 being the new 30, but ol' Ben Franklin had a lot of fun after 50 ;-)