Indie Publishing —The Entropy Is All Yours

You wince reading your own work in print, or sometimes you are happily remote to it. Either way you created it and there’s something right about having the autonomy to take control of your content if you trust yourself to be your own foil and if you don't? Then welcome to publishing.

You wince reading your own work in print, or sometimes you are happily remote to it. Either way you created it and there’s something right about having the autonomy to take control of your content if you trust yourself to be your own foil and if you don’t? Then welcome to publishing.

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.

The dusty shelf of repurposing, where all e-book legacy projects start. 'Gnaw' lies dormant in good company inside 'Southword Vol 5'.

The dusty shelf of repurposing, where all e-book legacy projects start. ‘Gnaw’ lies dormant but in good company inside ‘Southword Vol 5’.

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!

7 thoughts on “Indie Publishing —The Entropy Is All Yours

  1. It’s a fantastic idea and I can’t wait to see how you get on, especially when trying to balance all those assorted Jen’s, I can imagine the staff meetings getting quite heated, though as you’ll never manage to agree which Jen should take the minutes it’ll all be kept safely in house 😉

    I’ll be especially interested to see how you manage using the data you have to get the story into, hopefully, the right hands as, to me, that has always seemed to be the greatest difficulty with independent e-publishing.

    Who knows, maybe a great e-publishing house starts here?

    It does, in a lot of ways, feel like a small indie record label opening up, starting with a few select singles and hoping to move from there. Who knows, maybe the next step could be a compilation of assorted works similar to the famous C-86 compilation put out by the NME many moons ago?

    Looking forward to the next installment already!!

  2. Yeah it was getting a bit manic there. I don’t know how REAL self-pub people do it in a vacuum. Then again my training is collaborative and no work goes through the machine without due diligence.
    Of course later that evening I met none other than a significant Publicity person of a significant publisher who filled me in quite innocently (that person had no idea what I’m up to here) how lit fiction was the most difficult, how blogs don’t work for this genre and how self-publishing is getting a rep for being tat. Well I’m addressing that I hope by doing quality self-pub. Anyway, the purpose of this is to test the waters and have some fun.
    Actually I do feel a bit like that record label, why not? Again I think of other peoples’ hobbies, golf and what not. What harm to put your time into all the things you love and get some bespoke training in the meantime.
    Next instalment will be either about copyedit OR cover whichever comes in first. Or something entirely different.

  3. That nibble of ‘Gnaw’ has really whetted my appetite – can’t wait to get chomping on a full helping – Go to it Jen, and Jen, and Jen and Jen …………………..!

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