Tuesday, June 26, 2012

GeekGirl Con and the hobbyist writer

In August, I'm going to be giving a presentation at GeekGirlCon in Seattle, titled "From FanFiction to Self-Publishing: Ten Tips for Making the Move." I've been thinking about what I want to say quite a bit. The tip part is easy, although why I picked the random number ten is beyond me. It's not a very useful number -- I wish I'd gone with seven. Or maybe eleven? I know it was just the alliteration that got me, but I hate realizing that I've thought in cliches.

Part of what I want to talk about, though, is writing as a hobby. Everything I read about self-publishing is so crazed about the work, the need to be entrepreneurial, the pressure, the business side and how important it is to take seriously, but very few of them ever acknowledge that there's an implicit goal in all that advice that maybe not everyone has. Or needs to have. Sure, if you wish to be JA Konrath and earn $100,000 in a month, then maybe you need to spend the next ten years working 17-hour days. But you can have fun with self-publishing on a lot less time and a lot less effort. (Admittedly, those attitudes comes from the sites that I've found and follow, so possibly there are quieter people who feel exactly as I do.) And the idea that if you like to write, you must want it to be your full-time job is so limiting. I like to cook -- that doesn't mean I want to spend the rest of my days in a restaurant.

Amazon, CreateSpace, and the self-publishing revolution makes it possible for writing to become a hobby like...knitting. Crochet. You don't have to create "Art;" you can create something fun to share. My goal doesn't have to be to write a NYTimes best-seller -- it can be to share a story with friends. Publishing is now a spectrum activity. Yes, you can use it to work like crazy and try to make lots of money and build a "career," but you can also use it to play and have fun and experiment and take chances and enjoy a really entertaining hobby.

I made a book this weekend. I did it on Sunday. I sent the order for copies to CreateSpace this morning. I'm going to make five copies and only five copies. I'm not going to sell them, I'm just going to share them. It makes me happy to think about getting them and to think about the people I'm giving them to. And that is a totally valid and wonderful aspect of self-publishing that needs to be given more credit.


  1. Hi Sara, I wouldn't worry too much about the number of tips. What will make them want you or not want you again is how entertaining the talk is.
    I am also crushed that I can't read your new story :)

  2. The book's actually a compilation of some of the fan fiction stories that I wrote last year, which is why it's not publishable. I have no rights to the characters. Well, plus, it would make no sense if you don't know and love the television show Eureka. But the people I am giving it to have all told me that they reread my fanfics and I'm pretty sure that they're going to like it a lot, even though they've read the stories before. And it's really fun to be able to do something so personal as a thank you for all their encouragement along the way!

  3. Oh, and hey, I have been thinking that I ought to get a little bit more serious about marketing. Not a lot serious, just like a tiny little bit more serious -- which for me, means making an email list of people who might like a review copy of the next book (ie, emailed to you when it's ready and free. :)) If you send me your email address (to wrafferty at gmail dot com if you don't want to post your address), you can be the first person on my list.

  4. Hey, Sarah,

    You know I want on your mailing list.

    It is so cool that you're speaking at GeekGirlCon. You are a fanfic success story. Have a blast, take plenty of pics, and post them for us to see.

  5. Oh, totally! Although you probably will have seen enough drafts that when the real thing finally comes out, you'll be sick of it. :)

    And I'm not sure that I'd call myself a fanfic success story -- not with EL James out there, showing what can be done! But then I never aspired to being a NY Times bestseller, and by my measure of success -- am I having fun? -- I think I'm doing okay. :)