Thursday, November 3, 2011

Clarification: Mike Duran, Phil Tomasso, Richard Wright and GOOD Digital Self Publishing

I'm a little more awake and a lot less grumbly than yesterday, so over the next few days, I want to clarify something I grumbled about yesterday (and have grumbled about in the past), and also throw a curve ball as an experiment is brewing in the old head.

First, the whole e-publishing, ebook thing.  I've sorta grumbled about this a lot in the past year, because quite simply, as a reader, I'm a book lover.  Always will be.  And I'm a little stubborn, border-line fanatical about it.  For me, the concept of ebooks - as a READER - isn't exciting at all. Throw in the bald fact that I really can't afford a Nook or Kindle, and won't be able to do that anytime soon, and you won't see me reading ebooks anytime soon.

However, as a WRITER....well, let's be honest. Ebooks are a force to be reckoned with, a viable market avenue here to stay. ALSO, after a year of upheaval and "doom and gloom" predictions about the death of print, it also seems that - while the mass market paperback may be on the way out, trade paperbacks will be around for a good while, and ironically enough, hardcovers still seem to be doing okay.  So, for now, ebooks and physical books can co-exist.

So, I guess my issue is - not to offend - how EASY (relatively speaking) epublishing is for the individual to  simply publish their work.  And I mean relatively speaking, because formatting something, editing, getting nice cover art, figuring out formats,  graphic layout, marketing - that stuff is a LOT of work.   So saying epublishing is "easy"?  Bit of a misnomer.

I guess, the long and short of it, is this: I'm still a fan of the gatekeeper.  I still believe in traditional publishing.  I still think we NEED editors to work with (good ones, hard to find sometimes, I get that) in order to make our stories the BEST they can be, not just "good enough".  I kinda don't want to be "good enough to be published". I want to be the best I can be.  And, no matter how you cut it, self-epublishing eradicates the gatekeeper, which, contrary to rising popular opinion, I DON'T think is a good thing.


Here's the flip side.

I'm only concerned about this with writers who haven't proven themselves.  Folks who have cranked out their first book ever, and maybe have paid for professional edits and layout and cover design....but they haven't done their time in the trenches.  Haven't paid their dues, or proven themselves.  But hey: they don't have to, now.  They're published, after all.

Over the next three or four days, I'm going to highlight three PROVEN, established writers who are pioneering the digital publishing trail, folks for whom I believe the digital self-publishing craze is a GOOD thing: authors re-releasing out of print material,  (See NECON EBOOKS for this, also) established authors creating non-standard content that didn't necessarily fit in anywhere, and established authors releasing something digitally, while still striving away in the traditional market  (that's where my experiment will fall. Sorta.).  The authors in question:  Phil Tomasso, Mike Duran, and Richard Wright.  Today, I'll be looking at Phil Tomasso.

1. Phil Tomasso/Thomas Phillips: I'll admit, straight out before I pimp his stuff, Phil has become a good, good friend.  He's been a lot of help, given lots of great advice, and I've learned a lot from him.  He's visited with my Creative Writing and English students before, they love him, and he's solid writer, tells great stories, writes smooth prose, and he's a veteran, in his own right.  In his case, digital epublishing is a good, good thing.

In the nineties, Phil wrote and published several crime/thriller novels through a Leisure-esue midlist house, sold over 80 short stories to reputable horror/crime/thriller mags, got favorable reviews, won a few awards, and even saw a hardcover release. Unfortunately, he ran into some personal things and dropped out of the publishing scene for awhile.  Back in 2008 he reemerged under the pen name of Thomas Phillips with his first CBA (Christian Bookseller Association) release, The Molech Prophecy, a great suspense/thrillerLooked like a brand-new start.  His then-publisher was talking a series, even.

And then they said: "Let's see how this first one does."

And then, they said: "I think this will be the only one."

Now, this is just my soapbox opinion, but the CBA failed in Phil's case.  An awesome writer with a deft touch (one of those few writers you can call "obsessively readable"), an industry veteran with a good grass-roots following, they basically left him out in the cold.  

So, after giving the CBA its fair shot, he resumed writing under his real name.   Also, he's decided to re-release several of his well-received but now out of print crime novels through Kindle, along with two previously unpublished novels he just wasn't able to find a home for.  Check them out here.  You really should read them.

But Phil hasn't abandoned the editorial process or traditional print publishing.  He just announced recently on Facebook that a publisher - albeit a small but reputable press - has shown interest in a vampire trilogy of his.  So he's certainly using digital publishing to his advantage, to re-ignite his career, build some momentum - even if it's just personal and motivational - but he's not leaving the system high and dry.  He still believes in the gate keeper. 

That, in my opinion, is a judicious, smart use of digital self-publishing.  

Maybe I'm too idealistic.

It's possible. I'm an idealist, I'll admit it.  But, in my humble opinion, even though the stigma of self-publishing is fading, there are times to "self-publish", and times not to.

Tomorrow, I'll look at Mike Duran's self-published novella, Winterland.