The Indie Spirit: Martin Short and Harry Shearer

My name is Jacke Wilson, and I’m an indie author.

Yes, there’s a stigma attached to this. All those people saying: “Who do you think you are, Jacke Wilson?” and “There is no check on quality anymore! You can’t just SAY you’re a writer.” and “The self-publishing world is like an agent’s slushpile times a zillion!”

I’ve gotten over it. Mainly for the same reasons I gave in my support of NaNoWriMo. What’s the harm to you, Madame Slushpile? Who are you to stop me from writing and publishing what I want?

And also…I do have eyes, people. I’ve been to Barnes & Noble. I’ve seen what the gatekeepers have let through. If anyone think they provide a check on quality, as opposed to marketability…well, I don’t know what to say.

When I first cranked up this blog I posted several tributes to what I called the indie spirit. These were links to people – famous people, celebrated authors or artists – who took things into their own hands. Ezra PoundDr. JohnsonStéphane MallarméMarcel Proust. I had others as well – ten or twelve, I would guess. Some were people who adapted to technology before the rest of the field. Or who wrote a book that was claimed to be “unsellable” or “unpublishable,” but who found a way to sidestep the naysayers and get their voice heard somehow.

I posted a lot of these because I was trying to talk myself into why self-publishing was a good idea. Every success story heartened me; I drank them in, in the way someone afraid of flying might stop off at the airport bar for “shots of courage.”

Now that I’m on the other side (two books, a podcast, a blog, and lots more on the way), I consider my efforts a success. Success on a tiny scale, sure. But tens of thousands of readers and listeners is far more than I ever expected. Frankly, it’s more than most of my friends who have published with traditional publishers have. That’s the dirty little secret of literary fiction: A few Mobys. Lots of minnows.

And my experience has been better than theirs! Most of them hate their publisher: hate the contract, hate the lack of support they received, hate the cover of their book, hate the changes they were forced to make.

I am responsible to no one. I rise and fall with my own decisions. It’s liberating. It feels creative. It feels artistic.

Everywhere else in my life I’m governed by forces out of my control. But in this realm, where freedom is everything, I have it.

My friends have been told that their lack of success on the first book means that publishers won’t want to see their second. Does this have anything to do with quality? Is this how we encourage artists and writers in today’s world? It’s a ridiculous premise.

Most of my friends are so dispirited they’re ready to give up. I’m just getting started!

But set aside all that highfalutin’ puffery. Save that for the intellekshuls, as my beloved Flannery might say.

The main difference between the old way and the new way is this: I was getting nowhere the old way.

I had an idea for a novella-length piece of work. Ready to go! Fresh paper in front of me! Blue pen all revved up! Just a quick run to the agent websites to see where I’ll be aiming this when I’m finished…

Wait, what? A novella? About a hundred pages? You’re telling me not to bother? Nobody wants them? Publishers won’t look at them? Agents laugh behind your back for being so naive?

But…I like reading them. Don’t others like short novels? People are busy, no one has time for a novel…Wait, why the hell are you getting in our way?

Writers! Readers! The decision to connect or not should be their decision, not yours.

Because, Jacke. Just…because.

So then what? Set down my pen? Or decide to bring it out myself?

I brought it out myself.

And whatever you think about its quality, I think you would have to agree that it’s a better outcome than setting down my blue pen altogether. (If you can’t even meet me that far, if you’re going to tell me that I should not even bother writing anything if it’s a length that traditional publishers don’t want to sell, then we’re just not going to agree. Thanks for stopping by. You can go work out your daddy issues or whatever is forcing you into the comfortable thought that People In Charge Know What’s Best For Us. I’ll side with the artists, and the people, and the barbaric desire to create, every time.)

Here’s where Martin Short and Harry Shearer come in. Remember the Men’s Synchronized Swimming sketch? It struck the young me like a hurricane. I did not think I had ever seen anything this funny before.

I hope you’ve seen it. If you’re over forty, you probably have. If you’re a comedy fan, you probably have too. It makes it onto a lot of lists. In any case, it’s here if you want to take a look.

Here’s Martin Short describing his first year of SNL and the short films in particular:

I remember after we shot synchronized swimming, I said to Harry, What do you think we have here? Do you think these pieces are any good? And he said, “I don’t know, but all I know is that in L.A. I would have had two potential meetings about an idea and here at least we’re shooting stuff.” So he was thrilled about that, I remember.

Yes! Yes! And to that I can say, “Stigma? All I know is that in the past I’d have spent a hundred hours writing synopses and cover letters to agents and this way at least I have actual readers.”

So who cares if Grandma’s memoirs go online? Let’s let freedom ring! Let’s let creativity rule! Let’s seize the power! And the day! And the reins! Let’s seize whatever we can get our grubby little artistic hands on!

You’re telling me that books can’t make it in the world without the stamp of someone official? That the author’s imprimatur is insufficient? I refute it thus, Madame Slushpile!

   

Onward and upward, people!

Small Press Shoutout: Enchanted Lion Press!

Happy November! In honor of the holiday season, we’re resurrecting the Small Press Shoutout Series, in which I highlight some of the most amazing small presses around.

Today’s small press is  unbelievably good. If you have a child in your life under the age of, say, ten, head on over to Enchanted Lion to check out their books. It will be time well spent: your holiday shopping will be complete.

Take a look at this:

And this:

And my personal favorite:

Here’s a list of our previous small press shoutout-ees, with links: Continue reading

Small Press Shoutout: Owl and Zebra Press!

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Longtime readers may recall the Small Press Shoutout series, in which I celebrated those independent, brainy, well-intentioned, focused, even more focusedadorable, craftsmanlike, inspiring, dazzling, successful, friendly, quirky, cutting-edge corporate governance-y small presses. Here’s a list, with links:  Continue reading

Formatting a CreateSpace Book in 2014: One Quick Tip

I’ve gotten some good feedback from the post touting the still-timely advice of Guido Henkel and his e-book formatting guide. But what about formatting for print-on-demand? That’s no less confusing – and I never found a Guido Henkel to serve as my Virgil.

So it’s Googling, and more Googling, and a lot of trial and error. Eventually I came up with something I was very happy with and a second try that turned out even better, so I thought I’d mention at least one CreateSpace trick that worked for me. Continue reading

New Novella Release: The Promotion!

Another great day here on the Jacke Blog. I’m excited to announce the release of my new book, The Promotion: A Novella.

Officially, The Promotion “is the deadpan cri de couer of a lawyer trapped inside a Kafkaesque firm, tasked with recruiting new attorneys even as he himself slides into obsession and madness.”

Unofficially, it’s what happens when a modern-day Edgar Allan Poe tramples through the world of big law. A plot twist hinges on a daguerreotype. Hope you enjoy!

You can order copies for your Kindle or Kindle-enabled device (i.e., there’s an app for that!) by heading over to Amazon.com now. Prices are reasonable.

Or you can wait for the paperback version, which should be available very soon.

Onward…

…and upward!

Jacke News: Another New Blurb!

Readers! I’m very excited to announce Blurb #2 for the cover of The Race. Things are really coming together now, and I hope to have a print version up very soon. In the meantime, here’s the blurb from the always trenchant Michael Janson:

“The brilliance of The Race is in showing us that American politicians are as much a product of their own desires as they are of ours: our politics, and its recurring political shtick, are of our own collective making – for better or worse.”

— Michael Janson, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Political Science

Well put – and very flattering! This will go well with Blurb #1 from the great Ronica Dhar.

My thanks to Michael for the great testimonial and for his helpful feedback throughout the process.

Onward and upward!

Blurbs That Will Not Be Appearing on My Book

Readers! Still trying to get the print version of The Race out there. It’s taking longer than I’d hoped. I do have one blurb lined up and a couple more in the hopper. I wish I had another one finalized to share with you (since Mondays are “Jacke News” day), but in the meantime, here are a few that didn’t make the cut. I’m not going to name names, but for the record these are actual near-misses (not something I made up for the purposes of a blog post).

Comic and insightful… a penetrating look at today’s political scene…

I could have lived with that one!

Warm and insightful, The Race tells a story of American politics you’ll wish didn’t ring quite so true.

Not bad!

It’s been said that celebrity is the mask that eats the face. The Race reminds us that politics is the mask that swallows the soul.

Clever!

In this book, Jacke Wilson takes the pulse of American politics — and finds its corpse instead.

Yikes!

Reminder: You can buy the book (or download a free sample) Amazon.com (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook) and Smashwords (epub, mobi, pdf, txt, rtf, lrf, pdb)!