Self-portrait of the author Good afternoon! I’m writing this at the Elma Timberland Library, where I’ve had the opportunity to spend the morning. After lunch, I’ll head down the road to the McCleary Timberland Library for the afternoon. How great is that? I get to spend the day working in libraries. I’m pretty lucky.

Writing

Cover art for the Successful Author MindsetI’m reading Joanna Penn’s The Successful Author Mindset (one of several books I’m reading). It dawned on me today that I have an opportunity to write while I’m on winter break from school. There’s a whole lot of other things I want to do too—but I will find some time to write. I haven’t written very much fiction since going back to school. It’d be good to get more written. I might work on more stories for Drive-By Stories, and/or maybe develop some ideas for another novel. I’m not going to attempt a novel right now, but I could get some things together.

Illustrations

I’d also like to spend time working on illustrations (and websites, coding, etc.). Obviously, my time isn’t unlimited. I have to pick what I’m going to spend time on. I want to spend time with family, too, and there are some movies I want to see during this break.

Drawing and painting, though, that’s a big one. I’d like to work on some fundamentals and practice. It’d be nice to work on developing a regular practice. With the massive reboot planned, I intend to reissue all of my existing books. That includes those currently available and those that aren’t up, originally released under pen names, and several as-yet-unreleased novels. For each of those, I want to do new illustrations, covers, and for some at least, interior art as well.

I’m not Frank Frazetta, Matt Dixon, or Michael Whelan. I have a long way to go still, but I don’t plan to let that hold me back. I want to take my publishing efforts to the next level with this reboot and part of that is creating original cover art. Why? Because I enjoy it. Because I want to improve in that area (along with design and other elements).

Publishing

I mentioned rebooting publishing. When I buy books by my favorite authors, I try to get hardcover books. I enjoy having those books on my shelf. I’m fond of print. I read a lot of e-books, I listen to a lot of audiobooks. I sometimes buy the same book in multiple formats. Still, I enjoy collecting nice hardcover editions by my favorite authors. Some authors, I have books in mass market paperback, hardcover, and e-book.

With my reboot effort, I plan to release hardcover books. I plan to do the best job I can with them. And as I move forward, I intend to keep doing hardcovers. The trade paperbacks are fine, but I want hardcover books. I’ve experimented with a few books in hardcover (Full Moon Nights came out in a limited hardcover). I’ve learned more since then, and plan to continue learning. So, as best as I’m able, I want to release the sort of books that I want.

Of course, I’ll also do new e-book releases.

Trying New Things

I love learning new things. For me, that’s the strength of self-publishing. I’d describe indie publishing a bit differently. An indie publisher hires people to do the work for them. A writer/indie publisher might hire someone to do the layout and design, the cover art, and various editing jobs. Some of it, they may do themselves. Nothing wrong with any of that. Many things work that way.

A self-publisher may or may not hire people to help them. There’s no clear dividing line, more of a gradient. I see self-publishing as an opportunity to learn and try new things. On the gradient from self-publisher to indie-publisher are many different variations. The more an individual does themselves, the closer it pushes them into the self-publishing spectrum.

Quality?

I give my best with whatever I do, as much as I’m able. Does that mean I’m going to be ‘as good as’ [fill in the blank] at whatever you care about? I don’t know. I hope to be the best I can.

That said, I don’t think there is an absolute metric of quality when it comes to art (any art). I love books other people might hate. I look at Bob Eggleton’s skulls on Brian Lumley’s Necroscope books and damn if they don’t stick with me! I remember eyeing those books several times before I gave in and picked them up. As much as I love those covers, I doubt it’s going to be to everyone’s taste.

People judge everything. That doesn’t mean that their taste is universal. When it comes to artistic expression there is only one thing I think is important: expression.

I think there is tremendous value in individual artistic expression. All ambitions aside, I think it is fantastic that some people express themselves. I think supporting that is important. I think it makes a difference when people have opportunities to express themselves.

Friends, web reviews, librarians, publishers, reviewers, and critics—these are all filters to help us identify expressions that we might enjoy. With so much individual expression out there, it can be helpful to have tools to find what we’ll enjoy.

I enjoy creating my own individual expressions. I appreciate the support and interest when someone picks up one of my books. I hope they enjoy them. And I’m looking forward to creating more!