How I Began Self-Publishing; Prelude: Greek Summers

Before I explain how I got started in self-publishing I need to explain about my summers in Greece.  However, I have a confession to make.  I will likely go into more detail than I need to because thinking about sunshine and warm seas helps assuage the pain of the cold winter I am enduring right now.

When I worked as an English teacher in Greece I followed the standard school year. I would work eight months of the year and have four months off.  The way the system worked was that the schools hired and fired year by year, and during the four slack months teachers would collect unemployment insurance from the government.  It was inefficient and further taxed an already overburdened system, but that’s the way everyone did it.  Sometimes I considered getting another job during that time, but when I did the math I realized that it was not lucrative to do so unless I found work with astoundingly good pay, none of which was available even then before the huge Greek economic nose-dive.  So I had four months when I didn’t teach.  I was still busy because my wife worked full time, so I shopped, cooked, cleaned, took care of the boys and so on, but it was a much less strenuous time than during the school year when I did all those things and also taught from afternoon late into the night on weekdays and also Saturday mornings and had the burden of class planning and correcting essays and exams besides.

So in summer I would write more, especially Monday through Friday when I would stay at home while my wife was working.  On weekends on those clear hot Greek summer days we would head for the beach. Only twenty minutes from our house there was an excellent sandy beach with clear clean sea water and a cluster of rocks offshore that was perfect for snorkeling.  The only problem with that spot was because it was closer to the city, it got very crowded on Saturdays and Sundays.  If we got just a little more ambitious and drove forty minutes away, we came to a village where there was a superlative beach.  Here it was uncrowded, the water was clear and warm, and the beaches were clean and commodious.  Usually my wife and I and our youngest son would go, as the older ones preferred to stay at home and play computer games.  We would set up our beach umbrella, drop our towels and spend a few hours there, as much time as we felt safe before getting sunburned.  My son and I would spend a lot of time in the bathwater-warm water.  Sometimes I would swim underwater for a time, finally break the surface, revel in the sun and sea and feel so peaceful that I wished I could retain that sensation and carry it with me always.  There are not many such moments in life, in which you feel no stress and perfect calm and peace and a wonderful wash of well-being.  And of course, those moments do not last and you cannot carry them with you.  If you could I would cocoon myself in the blissful memory of the Greek sea instead of shivering in the Yakima cold.  So it goes.

Anyway, those summer weekends were intensely therapeutic, and the weekdays allowed me to do a lot of writing work I had no time for during the school year.

It was during one of those summers that I first found out about the changes that were happening in the world of publishing, particularly concerning the new opportunities for writers to self-publish their work.

I don’t remember how I discovered it, but the first thing that ignited my interest was Dean Wesley Smith’s series of blogs on “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing.”  From there it was a quick jump to his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog “The Freelancer’s Survival Guide.”  Once I discovered these treasures, I not only read the current postings but all the available back material and readers’ comments.  When I was caught up, I looked forward each week to new posts from each of them.  It took me a while to come around, entrenched as I was in old, traditional ways of thinking.  I was hesitant about taking a leap into the unknown.  Not that I was averse to it – I just wanted to be sure it was the right move before I made it.  So I read; I studied; I searched for corroborating evidence on other websites.

And I came to some conclusions.  I had started to sell stories to traditional magazines and anthologies years before, but this path was excruciatingly slow.  I had a book finished that I was trying to peddle to agents and editors but was getting no nibbles – in fact, most of the time I was getting ignored; they had not even the courtesy to reply.  The more I investigated, and the more I analyzed my situation, the more I realized that I had nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain by taking the leap and getting involved in what seemed an exciting new trend in publishing.

I’m a professional writer; I make my living by my words.  I’m happy to share these essays with you, but at the same time, financial support makes the words possible.  If you’d like to become a patron of the arts and support my work, buy a few of my available books or available stories.  Thanks!

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