Today we have another fantastic Guest Blogger gracing our digital pages! Meet Jen Frankel- writer extraordinary and the author of the Blood and Magic and Undead Redhead series.
She’s is a self published author who ventured into the turbulent waters of authorship when technology was redefining many existing mediums. Books were no exception.
I asked her here to talk about a few of her experiences, for all of you aspiring writers or readers out there.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in my early teens—and a storyteller even longer. But the problem was always to discover how to access “the sandwich meat,” you might say. I knew what the bread was on either side: write good stuff, and be published. But I had no idea how to get from one side of the sandwich to the other.
A lot of people must look at the path to becoming a writer the same way, as a gap of insurmountable magnitude. Your end as a creator is hard enough, but how to connect with the system full of people and mechanisms that could get your work out to a mass market?
I began as a lot of others must, trying to just get my writing into as many hands as possible. I started on a typewriter, pasting up my pages with Scotch tape and photocopying my stories and articles at the local Shoppers Drug Mart. My early attempts to attract any notice from Canadian publishers in particular was an exercise in futility. By the time I was twenty, my bathroom was liberally papered with rejection slips.
Now, I am an independent author of four books, one of which has been optioned as a feature film, and the proud surveyor of an ever-growing fan base. My best friend is modern technology, especially the Internet and the businesses that have developed because of it.
Without the advances, I would not be able to do what I do, or see a future in this field. Traditional publishers are, no matter what they think, relatively closed shops—especially in Canada where the arts are a cliquish place indeed. Publishers who can get your book into Chapters or Barnes and Noble are as likely to neglect or drop you altogether than further a successful career for you.
I went into the independent world because I knew that the things traditional editors saw as problems would be the ones that readers would embrace. Instead of being a marketing nightmare, I’m my own niche. And with technology on my side, and a brilliant publicist to help me make connections that matter, I know that the world is finally a place where I can succeed to the best of my ability to create solid work and put in the effort.
Here are the advances and innovations that make my career as a novelist possible:
- word processors that allow me to write, edit, and format a manscript that will be indistinguishable from “professional” books
- print-on-demand publishing platforms like Createspace (Amazon) and Lulu.com where I can set up and order as many (or as few) books as I need
- easy-to-understand blogging platforms like Blogger and especially WordPress where I can build a professional-looking site to show off what I’m doing
- the growth of fan-driven trade shows that bring my potential customers right to me, in particular Comicons and other genre-based conventions
- the ability to apply for, pay for, and confirm attendance, travel arrangements, and submissions of work and marketing materials online instead of by regular post. In a world where everything was done at the speed of the mail, waiting six weeks for the turn-around of an application to a show meant it was much harder to anticipate booking a dozen or more every year
- the availability of software like Photoshop which allow me to do my own graphic design
- services like Vistaprint where I can make promotional materials and don’t have to understand complex printing processes like four-color offset
- social media, especially (currently) Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, where I can not only interact with fans and let them get to know me but cross-promote with other writers
The Web and software innovations have allowed me to have the career I wanted without the kind of compromises I would have made with a traditional publisher—who probably would never have wanted to know me in the first place!
The biggest sadness I have is in having known from my early years that publishing in Canada through a traditional press would probably be impossible. Very few major Canadian presses have been interested in writers of genre, and the ones that have grown up recently have limited resources. I see more hope for the future in Canada because of independents with fan bases who might be able eventually to form a mutually beneficial relationship with a Canadian publisher, but very little potential currently for an author who hopes to build a career by being published in Canada.
- many publications in American lit magazines (short stories, essays, poetry) since 1991
- many wins in Canadian and American literary competitions (mainly for screenplay and stage plays, but some for poetry and prose as well)
- NO published work in Canadian lit mags or with Canadian publishers
- have run open stages with featured writers including Stephanie Bolster, James Reaney Sr. and Andrew Pyper in London ON, Montreal, Halifax, and Stratford
- four books self-published through Lulu.com and Createspace, all available from major outlets like Chapters and Amazon and as eBooks from iTunes, Kindle, etc
- have taught courses in writing, playwrighting, screenwriting
- Director of Development and later President of Wildcard Pictures, an independent film production house in Toronto
- writer/star of two one-woman shows touring the Fringe Festival, both with excellent critical reception
- novel UNDEAD REDHEAD recently optioned to be a feature film by Black Dragon Moving Pictures
If you want to read one of Jen Frankels books for yourself, or ask her about her experiences, you can check out her website at http://www.jenfrankel.com