Marcus and the Amazons @ Keiser University
Sometimes, reading for an audience never goes quite as planned.
I had prepared my notes, PowerPoint, and bundled all my books, including Dub Wise, for my reading at Keiser University on July 13, 2011.
At first, everything went as planned. I read from the first chapter of Marcus and the Amazons and encouraged the students to download the preview at Amazon. I also introduced the students via my PowerPoint to the book trailer, Facebook page, and blog for Marcus. But then, something happened that took me off my plan. The students were keenly interested in e publishing and the process of creating Marcus and the Amazons.
The question gave me the opportunity to speak about the genesis of Marcus and the Amazons, and the challenges of being an Indie author in a digital environment.
The first challenge is the stereotype that many readers associate with Indie publishing. But as John Locke has explained, no one calls it a "vanity business" if you decide to set up an independent insurance company (as he did), but if you self-publish, it's called "vanity publishing." The other stereotype is that a self-published book is somehow lower in quality than those books coming out of the major publishing houses in New York and London. This is a stereotype that many Caribbean writers still confront, and which, sadly, is one of the legacies of colonialism: the goods and services of the "mother country" are always superior to anything "local."
These are just a few of the issues that an Indie author must face before she has written a single word. Then, there are the doubts: Am I good enough? What will my peers think? What if it doesn't meet up to my standards of taste? But you have to push through and write.
Then, after you've written the manuscript, proofread at least ten times, and sent it off to a copyeditor (as I did), the next step is formatting. Fortunately, my son did most of that for me and my other son, Patrick Pollack, created the graphics. Uploading to Smashwords and Amazon was the easiest part of the process.
Next, comes the marketing, which some writers find distasteful. There are many authors who would much rather write the book, turn it over to a publisher, and let the publishers worry about the rest. These authors complain that marketing takes away from their writing time. It does. This is why Indie authors rely so much on the support of their readers.
When you are an Indie writer, you are the author, editor, proofreader, PR, therapist, coach, and booking agent. And you have to do all this while sometimes holding down a full time job. As I said to the students, "To be an Indie author, you must have the discipline of a warrior and the whimsy of a fool."
With that, I thought I was done, but the students wanted more. So, I read from Cry to Me, Third Time, and Dub Wise. It wasn't enough. I ended the reading with a poem from Twelve Poems and a Story for Christmas.
It was a great experience to read and talk with the students at Keiser University, who took me out of my comfort zone with the probing questions. Give thanks to Belkis L. Cabrera, for inviting me, and to Alissa Stone and Henry Georget for their generous support of my work.