Happy to be announcing official kick-off of self-publishing experiment Project Gnaw. First observation: Organising a publication solo is tumbleweed territory. There’s no noise, meetings, procedures, discussions, fanfare or pondering over author imagination, like, how proactive will this author be online? What ideas do they have around repurposing? What territories have they or their agent agreed rights for? So as author, publisher, editor and producer the entropy is all mine. As is the conversation, which goes something like…
‘Jen, get the print version off the shelf there, give it a re-read for errors and repurposing.’
‘Sure Jen, what’s Jen’s deadline?’
‘Today Jen, today.’
‘Okay Jen, let Jen confer with Jen — Jen, can Jen do the work on this today?’
‘Jen, Jen is the author today, therefore not advisable that Jen does the edit, Jen?’
‘What would Jen do if Jen was not Jen?’
‘But Jen is Jen is Jen and Jen…’
And so it goes. Actually, I feel like one of my own creations from an earlier post. Circular, self-referential, internal. This is way to insular for my liking. No wonder there’s a load of bad self-published work out there. Without a foil how do you accurately curate the bats inner monologue when it comes to publishing your own work? So the first decision is not difficult. Open the door; expose the work to industry peers. Makes sense. What’s a publisher for if not to stress-test the work itself? The worst thing I could do to myself is to bypass some key processes.
As David Marcus, Pat Cotter and the Munster Literature Centre have already vetted this work I like to think the literary part is sound. But the repurposing of a legacy title is never just a facsimile. It needs updating, it needs to be made suitable for a global audience if possible, or reworked. So with the publisher hat on, and bearing in mind self-publishing is a bit of a cottage industry, I’m asking some people I respect to give me their take on this piece of work via their proven skills. Over the next few posts I’ll be showcasing some extraordinary people, not just in publishing but in the design world and other industries and giving reasons why I have chosen them to be the best foils to prevent my Indie pub house from becoming a vanity pub house. First up: Screenwriter/writer Ferdia MacAnna.
Several years ago, aware that as a literary writer with a focus on words I may have blind spots when it comes to plot, turning point, dialogue, character arcs and other important basics of storytelling. To brush up on this I attended one of MacAnna’s screenwriting courses, advisable for anyone writing anything ‘story’ based to my mind. Exposure to a wider landscape and having the scrutiny of one who is a dealer in ‘story’ means an all-rounder mind, ideal reader for this project. I want my story to appeal to the person who reads all sorts, not just literary fiction. Plus his rate is reasonable. I asked him to flag the tropes, or the missing tropes from a plot POV, flag what sticks out as ambiguous, faulty dialogue or non-visual writing. Not to say that these things are not deliberate devices too in lit fiction. I’ll stand by that if I’m deliberately doing something there, but to take the work out of the vacuum and get it through a more commercial eye, well this is necessary stress test no 1. So my task today is to balance Ferdia’s comments with my own appraisal, update the text in Word format and get the document in better shape to pass on to the next person on the chosen team of craftsmen and women, none other than…to be continued next post!