BWS 13.09.17: Nancy Kay Clark

Nancy Kay Clark

After many years as a magazine writer and editor, Nancy Kay Clark began to write fiction, but couldn’t settle on what kind—literary, children’s, sci fi or speculative (so she writes all four). Her short fiction has been featured in Neo Opsis magazine. She is a diehard do-it-yourselfer: she launched her own online literary magazine, CommuterLit.com, seven years ago (it’s still going strong); creates chapbooks to sell, and later this year will self-publish a middle-grade novel, Gus the Fuss, and, with a group of like-minded writers, an anthology of short stories, Our Plan to Save the World. You can find her stories on CommuterLit, and on Wattpad.

Nancy drops by the blog this week to tell us why she self-publishes!

Why I’ve decided to self-publish

Yes, I know the majority of self-published novels languish among thousands on Amazon, selling a mere handful to friends and family, before disappearing completely into the great bargain bin in the cloud.

And no, I’m not a marketing magician; I do not possess a potion for success that will ensure my titles will stand out from the crowd. Nor am I delusional in thinking that self-publishing is an easy ticket to fame and fortune.

But I’m going to do it anyway and these are my reasons:

  1. As a newcomer, being picked up by a traditional publisher (large or small) does not guarantee huge sales. I’d be doing the bulk of the publicity and social media marketing myself anyway.
  2. An inability to get picked up by a traditional publisher or literary agent does not necessarily indicate a lesser quality of work. It may have more to do with budgets and bottom lines. It may be I’m not on trend, and therefore considered not marketable. My manuscript might not be to some editors’ tastes, or if it is, there may be room to publish only two first novels and mine was judged number three or four, or maybe five, but definitely not six.
  3. No matter how many times I try to convince myself of what I just stated above, rejections still eat at me. I’m tired of letting them do so.
  4. Self-publishing does not preclude submitting other work to traditional publishers.
  5. In fact, self-publishing might lead to a publishing contract. It has happened — usually to self-publishers who have worked their asses off. Nobody knows where the next hot trending book will come from and writers who have built up their sales and fan bases grab the attention of traditional publishers.
  6. I’m middle aged and thus have less writing years in me than many out there. And I’m impatient to get on with it. I do not wish to wait for my lucky break.
  7. Actually, I don’t believe in lucky breaks. I believe you have to make your own opportunities in life.
  8. It’s fun having complete creative control over the entire publishing venture.
  9. Technology has made it feasible for me to self-publish and at a reasonable cost.
  10. I want to turn rejection into acceptance. Right here, right now, I’d rather have 10 people who buy and enjoy my self-published books, than 10 rejections from publishers and agents. That to me would feel like a win.
  11. If traditional publishers offer first timers itsy-bitsy advances, and most titles won’t sell out those advances, and the publicity and marketing will mostly be up to the writer anyway, what exactly do these intermediaries offer us? Editing expertise? Yes, fair point. A good proofreader? Arguable. Necessary judgment of literary merit? I dare you to go into any large bookstore, read a few back cover blurbs from books in various genres and tell me with a straight face about their literary merit. Mostly I think traditional publishers and literary agents offer third-party validation that all those years we’ve spent writing weren’t a colossal waste of time. The gatekeepers give you a pass to that exclusive authors club. They give you status. They give you the ability to take “wanna be” from in front of “writer” on your resumé. They give you respect from your fellow writers. So…
  12. I’ve decided to give up my all-consuming craving for third-party validation—well, from the traditional publishing industry, anyway. I’m going to go directly to readers, and see what they think. Now, I just have to work my ass off to find those readers.

Nancy Kay Clark visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Fathima Cader, Drew Hayden Taylor, Saidah Vassel and a special guest talk, “From Blog to Book: A Work in Process”, by Kerry Clare!

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1 Comment

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One response to “BWS 13.09.17: Nancy Kay Clark

  1. Norm Rosolen

    Thanks for this, Nancy. Self-publishing’s my goal for next year, too. For exactly the reasons you’ve given. Just an ebook – no hard copy.

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