That's writing a book. And as with all art, I see it in two main components: what you're expressing (the art), and how you go about expressing it (the tools). The first is art and the second is craft. You learn to use the tools of the craft in order to release the art.
There are reasons I try to write, and I'll do a journal entry about that in the future. Today I want to talk about the tools, though in truth, the topics do overlap.
Yesterday, I attended a one-day class on self-publishing that is a part of the Milsaps College Community Enrichment program. It was actually more of a 3-hour workshop in using CreateSpace to self-publish your book. In my quest to produce a novel, publish and distribute it, I've studied the publishing process from the traditional to the electronic (reading on computers, Kindles, iPads, etc). I've had some success in both for short stories and novellas and, all the while, I've been working on making my post-apocalypse novel, Dentville, a reality with one eye on how I would publish it.
Ten or so years ago, I would have gone the traditional publishing route without question, and that was indeed my thoughts then. But things have changed. Corporate publishing is in as much flux as everything else and the big houses work under the same "infinite growth" paradigm as the rest of the capitalist world. In publishing, that works out as "you gotta be Stephen King" to get their support, or even their attention. And then, you're still pretty much left to promote yourself.
So, as in so many other areas, the Internet and digital technology provide an alternative. Print On Demand (POD) publishing supported by the web and social media give a writer a means to produce quality books (materially anyway) made available through mass outlets (on the web) at a (potentially) reasonable cost. It has become more and more apparent to me that that is the way I should go (pretty much "forced" to go). Though self-publishing has its own trials, the traditional route is just too long and difficult if you're not already established. The odds are against you (as at a casino). In taking this class, I wanted to get a closer look at the process and hear from someone who has done it.
Most of the class was a demonstration of Createspace by the teacher. With the website projected at the front of the room, she stepped us through the process of creating a sample book (A Day in the Life) using the website. It was easily done and produced a book (though she didn't take it all the way to publication, of course) for no cost. There were points along the way where you could purchase professional services (like artwork and book design) and so would have incurred some costs comparable to the charges of other POD companies. Still, she demonstrated how it is possible to publish a book for free and have it distributed online through Amazon by making clever use of freely available tools on the Internet.
Actually, it's not completely free, Amazon will get their percentage when the book is published. There is a royalty schedule (I didn't note the specifics) and an author's discount (so you can order POD hard-copies for author sales). I saw that self-publishing can work, especially if your goals are well-defined. For instance, the class teacher is an English professor at a local university and she publishes her own textbook this way. Her students can purchase it online or she has placed it in the university's bookstore (I believe it sold out). So this works for her in her world.
Regarding quality, I have seen that Createspace can produce a quality product. My story, Davis and the Goth was published as part of the Createspace-published anthology, While the Morning Stars Sing and the book it produced is very nice.
But I have serious reservations about Amazon.com, the corp that is behind Createspace. Being the online publishing giant, they seem to want to rule the publishing world (infinite growth again--they can't just do well, they have to dominate the world). Their push for exclusive rights to e-books has earned them much enmity among bookstores to the point that many refuse to sell Amazon-published titles (see this article in Publisher's Weekly). Even the self-publishing teacher pointed out that selecting one of the Kindle options in Createspace will result in Amazon taking exclusive rights to your ebook edition and so prevent you from marketing it elsewhere. She recommended not doing that.
So I can pretty much guarantee that Dentville will not be published with Createspace. I do have other POD publishers in mind. But the class was very helpful in demonstrating the current mechanisms of online and POD publishing and how a person can do much with digital and Internet-based tools. And the teacher's love of her work and enthusiasm for books and writing was inspirational.
Speaking of tools, I think I mentioned that I'm using a software product called Writeway to write (actually, "build") my first Dentville novel. I've found it extremely helpful and it has enabled me to make much headway on the book. I'm working on it every day and the completion of it feels more real to me now than ever before. And then the self-publishing class gave me the feeling that the publishing of it is "doable."
I'll have much more to say in future entries about the development of Dentville. I won't talk about writing mechanics but about the evolution of the story, its themes, and the current trends and events I'm drawing from. My journal entries should reflect the story's development and I hope for this website to develop along with it.
And I hope you'll follow me as I write this book, and can find sympathy for what I'm trying to say with it (more on that coming) and inspiration when you finally read it. I think that would be pretty neat.