Now It’s Put Up Or Shut Up
No whining allowed in the Kindle World.
By Phil Stern
When I was in college, all anyone ever talked about was writing the Next Great American Novel.
I can remember seeing friends in the Campus Center, busily working on their laptops late into the night. They’d excitedly talk of how “unique” their characters were, how “relevant” their work was. Their novel would seamlessly fuse the best of traditional literature and modern-day sensibilities, catapulting them to sure fame and fortune.
At times, over the years, I’d ask some of them if they ever published their novel. No, was always the reply. Usually they’d sent their manuscripts out to literary agents, getting the same form rejection letters we’ve all seen. Frustrated, and without any obvious outlet for publishing their work, their Next Great American Novel was left to gather dust in some drawer.
Now, of course, everything’s changed. In 2012, we don’t have to accept the final judgment of the literary agents and editors. In Kindle World, we can publish on our own.
As of now, I have five books up on Kindle. One is full-length (The Bull Years), the others shorter Sci-Fi and Fantasy works. I’ve talked to my friends of how wonderful it is to have people buy your books, getting positive reviews and even the occasional fan mail. It’s pretty cool to check your sales figures, and see that one, or two, or five books have sold in the last few hours.
Are there frustrations as well? Of course. But overall, it’s been a wonderful experience.
But you know what my friends say, those same people who spoke so rapturously years ago of getting published?
Kindle? Naw, too much trouble. People don’t actually make any money doing that, do they? But really, I don’t have the time. And who reads ebooks, anyway?
I think my favorite excuse may be that they’re “holding out” for a “real” publisher. As if, after years of rejection, and the numbers of new print books being published dwindling every year, that might really happen.
So here’s the deal. Anyone who wants to sell and distribute their work, directly to consumers, can now do so. You can be published, worldwide, within a few weeks. It just takes some time, effort, and a little money (editing, covers, etc.). But now it can be done, and no one can stand in your way.
But you know what? I think my contemporaries have suffered enough rejection in their lives (much more on that in The Bull Years), and maybe just can’t face the final indignity of putting their cherished work out there and having no one care. Whatever the reason, though, their work remains moldering in the drawer.
Which is a shame. Because even though we’re not 21 anymore, there’s still plenty of time to be the authors we’ve always wanted to be.