Thursday, November 13, 2014

Defying Gravity: Taking the Plunge Into Self-Publishing

By Paul Anthony Shortt, @PAShortt

Part of the Indie Authors Series

My regular indie contributors are getting a break today, and Paul Anthony Shortt is stepping in to share his experiences with--and his choice to--dive into the self-publishing world. Paul has been a long-time reader at Fict-U, and it's a pleasure to see him here once again with a new book, and a new direction in his writing career.

A child at heart who turned to writing and roleplaying games when there simply weren't enough action figures to play out the stories he wanted, Paul Anthony Shortt has been writing all his life.

He believes in magic and monsters. In ghosts and fairies. The creatures that lurk under the bed and inside the closet. The things that live in the dark, and the heroes who stand against them. Above all, he believes that stories have the power to change the world, and the most important stories are the ones which show that monsters can be beaten.

He lives in Ireland with his wife Jen and their dogs, Pepper and Jasper. Their first child, Conor William Henry Shortt, was born on July 11th, 2011. He passed away three days later, but brought love and joy into their lives and those of their friends.

The following year, Jen gave birth to twins, Amy and Erica. Their fourth child, Olivia, was born in January, 2014.

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Take it away Paul...

Something has changed within me, something is not the same.
I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game.
Too late for second-guessing, too late to go back to sleep.
It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes, and leap.
It's time to try defying gravity.
- Defying Gravity, Wicked

Much like Cora Ravenell, the protagonist of my latest novel, I've been faced with some stark lessons and forced to make some difficult choices. And also like her, I've chosen to respond to these challenges by putting myself ever more to the test.

Lady Raven is my first self-published novel, a story I wanted to tell, with a powerful young woman at the lead. At 18, Cora sits on the border between a Young Adult and New Adult heroine, and much as that puts the book in a strange, changing position, Cora's story is one of violence, upsetting change. Importantly, it's about how you react to that change, how you adapt and survive, and become stronger for it. Ultimately, it's the story of a girl who has lived her life bucking the societal norms enforced by those around her, who is finally pushed too far, and decides to fight back and make a difference. I feel we can all relate to that.

I initially wanted to go self-publishing, in addition to sending books to publishers, in order to increase my yearly output. I'm the kind of writer who just can't sit still. I can't just let ideas sit in my head, unused, so I want to bring out as many books as possible. To do that, I knew I'd have to self-publish some of them.

Then earlier this year, my wife and I were hit with some unexpected difficulties, and faced with impossible childcare costs, we decided to go onto a single income. As I was earning the most, and had the least travel costs, I stayed in work, and she is now a stay-at-home mum. It was a scary time, but rather than let that fear beat us, we decided to leap straight into this new lifestyle. We're each trying new things to bring in extra money (she sings at weddings and special events, I am now also offering freelance editing services to writers). As a part of this, I knew that my focus, for now, anyway, had to be self-publishing.

That's not to say I've given up on traditional publishing. Far from it, I even have a new idea brewing away specifically with the intent of sending it to a publisher. But when self-published books can give back royalties on a monthly basis, and most publishers pay royalties twice a year, to say nothing of the time involved in querying, editing, and waiting for your book's place in the release schedule, it just didn't make sense for my priority to be to spend 4-6 months writing a book that wouldn't earn anything for up to 2 years.

I scrounged up what money I could, and called in some favors, and got Lady Raven professionally edited, got a cover done, got the layout set, and uploaded everything to Createspace. Within a day, there it was. My fourth book, ready for order. The experience has been wonderful. Amazon is a great company to deal with and they've resolved any query I've had within a day or two.

I think all of us have times when it feels life is nothing but setback after setback. But I also believe these setbacks happen for a reason. To test us, perhaps. Or to lead us out of a bad situation, if we only have the strength to keep going.

It's what we choose to do when we fall, that defines who we will become.

I choose to defy gravity.

About Lady Raven

Cora Ravenell has already lost her father. Now she stands to lose so much more. With no male heirs, her father's estate is stripped away, and Cora's only chance to remain in noble society is to marry a childhood friend.

But when her mother is accused of treason, Cora's world is shattered, and she becomes the target of a ruthless hunt. Chased through the darkest corners of the city, Cora discovers that not everything about the Empire is as it seems. In the darkness, Cora will find the truth, and a power she has never known.

The law calls her a criminal. The church calls her damned.

Her enemies call her Lady Raven

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  1. Thanks for having me back, Janice!

  2. Wow, Paul, your story is quite inspirational. I believe I'm going to do self publishing for the same reasons you mention. Though the idea that a "real" publisher would accept me is an exciting challenge, getting books actually out there is more of an enticement than waiting, waiting, waiting...

    It is also inspiring that you keep going with the writing despite such trying times in your personal life. You show that there is no excuse. That a writer will write. I'm going to check out your book, as it sounds quite intriguing! Thanks for posting today.

    1. Thank you!

      I firmly believe that there's no "right" or even "best" way to get published. Find what option feels right for you, and go for it.

  3. It's always encouraging to hear about writers who keep at it despite the setbacks life hands them. Congratulations on getting your book out there :)

  4. Thanks for sharing your story Paul, and best of luck on the self-published title!

  5. It's always wonderful to learn a little backstory with authors and their publishing choices. Thanks so much for giving us a peek :-)

    1. I often find I enjoy an author's work much more, the more I know about their own choices and experiences. I love sharing this side of myself.

  6. Paul, your decision to pave a way for your wife to stay home with your kids is one you'll treasure (IMHO). Yes, it's tough to make ends meet, but your kids and wife will probably love it. I've stayed home with our three boys. They're teens now, and one thing I know for sure: I'll never look back and wish I'd spent more time with them.

    I'm happy that you've jumped into indie publishing! I'm so glad it's been a good experience for you. Lady Raven sounds amazing!

    1. Either of us would have been overjoyed to be the one to stay home. Our girls are the most important thing in the world to us, and I'm so glad for my wife that she gets the extra time with them, and that I know they're in good hands while I'm at work.

      Hopefully it won't be too long before my editing work and book sales pick up to the point where I can stay at home, too.