Self Published

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It’s a shame that time and again the old dance of going after writing for being self-published still gets carted out from time to time. I have said it before and say it again – how is it that you can make movies yourself – INDIE – and music yourself – DIY – but god help you if you go through nontraditional means to get your work out there you’re suddenly a hack.

How does that make sense?

Now, I will grant you that let’s say that 95% of all self pub stuff released is OK to Not Good (my work is closer to Meh than either of those) which tends to be what people focus on, and that’s not unfair but it’s not a whole picture. Go into any bookstore or onto any book site and look at what’s there, that was published via traditional means, and how much of it is empirically good? How much is at least OK?

The difference between a published author in today’s market and a self pubbed one is luck as much as anything else. It’d be great to say – all of the people published today are genuinely talented authors with voices that cannot be denied.

That ain’t the case.

There’s a lot of crap out there, self pubbed and traditionally pubbed.

The greatest sin of self pub work, and I fall into this COMPLETELY, is the lack of editing and an editorial voice. Now, I prefer my work raw. I have a lot of things I can fix/do fix but I like that the work people get comes FROM me and isn’t filtered through other people. But that’s not always a good thing. Editors help keep the writer on task, cleans up the work, and makes sure the thing makes sense. Also, when a work is created for commerce it also forces those involved to take a harder look at it. I know I have enough stories written and more in my head that I could keep churning out book after book after book but knew that I needed to stop where I was. There’s a point of self-parody that you don’t want to reach.

The sins of self pubbed authors are many but most, MOST are self-inflicted and most only damage that author. When you look at some of the work that is picked up and put out traditionally, that to me is the problem.

Too much literal crap is put out.

There is a market for EVERY thing out there so variety is always great but having spent the last twenty years looking for publishers and getting no responses, or the same canned responses you start to pay more attention to trends. You start to laugh at the narrow focus the publishers have – We only want Christian fiction for babies – and you take heart a little. I was at a horror writing convention and had two pitches to publishers, a little one and a big one and each one I had ten minutes to pitch and each place yammered about themselves for six-eight of those minutes. They knew they were never going to buy anything from me, they knew it because that’s how that system works. Very, very few people get traditionally published these days.

And that’s fine.
But don’t tell me it’s because they have more talent than everyone else out there.

And don’t lecture me when I say to hell with the system and head in a different direction.

The biggest issue I have with the whole thing is that it takes away the common thread that binds us all together – we’re all writers. Good or bad, we are writers. I have a lot more respect for a writer that isn’t very good but writes out of passion and love for writing than I do for someone who has their works ghostwritten so they can keep cashing paychecks based off of their name value. Taking it all together there’s just a lot of crap out there, a lot, and it’s our job, your job, my job, OUR job to wade through it to get to what we want to read and what is worth our time. Don’t expect me to fight battles though for you, for anyone that belittles and denigrates what I do though. There is a battle being waged between Amazon and a large publishing house that has sweeping implications but the thing is that you can’t tell me what I do is invalid then ask me to take your side. Just like you can’t be on the sidelines catcalling people who have professional careers that are riding on how this turns out.

We need less They and Them and more US. We are all writers. We’re all trying to get our work out there and seen. The sad fact is that most of us, the greater part of most of us, will never live the dream of seeing our books in stores, having people anxious to read our work, and will never make but negligible money on what we do. I know so many authors that have their work put out traditionally but who still don’t make any money and it makes me see that it isn’t just Amazon that is broken but publishing as a whole. We began treating books and writing as if it was fast food to consume, crap out, then consume some more. The industry focused so much of its efforts on The Next Big Thing that it lost sight of the idea of finding and fostering talent. And book prices have made it easier to just get an e-book or not bother reading at all.

Books lost their magic.

We took it away.

Our fighting, our arguing, or finger pointing distracted us as the magic left.

The last time I stood in line for a book was to get the Seventh Harry Potter book and I expect that that is the very last time there’ll be a book that people stand in line for and that’s just sad.

Established authors need to remember where they came from and to encourage and nurture young writers. Not just kids but adults. Anyone who wants to write. Most people won’t see the stories and novels through to completion but they should be encouraged to do it. We need to spend less time bashing self pub authors and more time seeing why they went that way and how their work differs from traditionally published work. We need to stop acting as if we are better than one another.

It’s about stories, about telling stories, not about how we tell them.

So yeah, I AM self published. After spending years and years and too much money looking for someone to give my work a chance I decided to go the DIY route, the same route I took for all of the projects I have ever done. I would love to say my work is polished and will blow you away but it isn’t, and it won’t, but my stories deserve to be told. I deserve to tell them. If people aren’t interested then fine, but to tell me that my stories are invalid because of how they reach people is crap, and it’s lazy, and it’s the sort of thing that has made the publishing world the elitist manure factory that it’s become. I have spent hundreds of hours on my work, have created my own covers, have laid my work out, and have worked to get these stories and books out there. You can tell me my stories aren’t any good but you can’t convince me that they don’t deserve to be seen.

www.meepsheep.com

c

Handling the Business

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I think it’s safe for a writer to say that it’s pretty much ALWAYS frustrating when you are trying to get your name and work out there.  It’s not there is no ‘easy’ way because I think if you’re willing to pursue a dream you get over the ‘easy’ aspect of it pretty quickly.  Easy means different things to different people but all in all, there is rarely much EASY when it comes to your dreams.  Even if you have a quick ascension it usually means you’ll have an equally quick fall, which doesn’t really help a whole lot.

Lately I am frustrated with a lot of the way that things have gone as far as publishing. It’s frustrating that self publishing is still looked down upon so fervently yet the established publishers make it so hard to reach them. Trying to get published is a maze of waste and disappointment.

My mind boggles when I read about a place wanting me to sum up every chapter of my book and submit that with a synopsis.

Why?

That’s so wasteful.

On time and resources.

Here’s my thought – have writers query with who they are, what they want, and what they have to offer you. You look through it and if it hits your curiosity button then you ask for more, if not, you thank them and move on. And let’s get past physical subs unless its an entire manuscript, which should only go to someone if they are really, really interested. Otherwise it’s sheer waste. I get that some people hate tech, well, get over it. You can get your email on tablet PCs, phones, all manner of devices so why waste all that paper and postage and honestly, time.

And that is what kills me is the waste of time on the writer’s side. I get that publishers want what they want and me fuming about closed minds and closed doors is not going to change things, but jeepers, the time of the writer is valuable, just as valuable as anyone else’s. We have day jobs, families, loved ones, and expecting us to research your magazines, your companies, to do hours and hours of work to get impersonal rejections with no tips, pointers, or even interest is ridiculous. Again, let’s keep things to email. That way you can get the submission query, and if people don’t like it they can shoot a quick email back and thank them and move on.

No muss, no fuss.

It gets crummy when you research, mail things off, and wait weeks for a Thanks But No Thanks form letter. It is just rude and shortsighted. You never know what writer will some day get picked up and become a brand name and the company will wish they’d been a little kinder.

Kindness counts. And if I can take a chance on you by offering my work, you can be polite and thank me for that time and not waste my time. It’s the least that can be done. If you are so swamped that you can’t do it then have an assistant do it and be thankful for the work.

And with that it’s time the publishers start opening their minds more. Take chances. But take chances on smaller scales. Embrace e-publishing and embrace new and emerging writers. Give them their chance. Give them a cut of the sales and market it to some degree and if they move books, then give them a longer look and if they don’t then you part ways knowing each side gave it a shot. Ebooks are blowing up and this is a way to open digital niche arms and to discover new voices.

It’s time for change.

It’s time for the publishers to pay writers, to appreciate them, and to realize that they work symbiotically and need one another. It’s time that was understood and honored.

Me, I am at a place where I am a whisper in a storm, but I am trying to find my voice, to scream to the hills of these amazing books I have written and to have people share in the stories I have written, but for now I am patiently waiting for the winds to change so I can be heard above the noise. I believe in the future of writing and publishing but there’s a lot of change that has to keep happening and I just hope I can ride that change out and find a way to hang on, like so many others.

Bookswww.meepsheep.com

And So It Begins…

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   This is a pretty momentous day for me. Today is the day I sent my novel A Shadow Over Ever off to a friend to be edited. This is the first big step I have taken with the novel in quite some time and it feels great. This is a novel that began as a short story back in 1994 when it was published in a magazine some friends and I were doing at the time. After that it grew to a sequel story, to a third story that rounded it out to novella length and then I finally let it be what it was and finished a fourth part and let it be the novel it always was meant to be.

Phew.

I love this book. Truly, madly, and deeply. It was, until I wrote The Meep Sheep my favorite work I had done. It is funny, it is sad, it is scary, it is deep, and it is ridiculous. It is the story of a man who had only and always wanted to be left alone yet who is forced into saving a world he no longer feels a part of anymore. I put a lot of work into this thing and know that there is a lot of work yet to come. I have edited it three times in the past and it needs new eyes, fresh eyes to find the errors in grammar and, more importantly, in the story itself. Soon, much sooner than I can imagine, I will be able to get it out into the world though, and that’s pretty great.

This had been intended to be the novel that I was to have published traditionally, that had been my hope for it, but I had tried that course for years and could keep trying to no avail. I am not sure if my query letters were poorly written, if I choose the wrong agents or publishers, or if I just wasn’t able to convey what this book is (something I still struggle with – theosophical horror? Hmm?) but the time has come for it to move past the ‘sitting in a drawer’ phase.

So, it’s begun, the next step on what has been a long road for this book. I am still far from the finish, but it is closer to being more than something I and a very small handful of people have read. Soon it will be out there in the world, and that knowledge feels pretty great.

c

wwww.meepsheep.com

Doing the Circuit

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    If there’s one thing that I have learned through all these many years as a self published writer it’s that if you are ever going to get the thing out there you have to, well, get the thing out there.

I learned pretty early on that if you are not willing to get your work out there and in front of people then you are putting up a lot of roadblocks. Hell, we’d all love to just have a publisher woo us, produce and promote our books, and then we can just go to glamorous and exciting signings and interviews but, well, that just doesn’t happen a whole lot. Even the few publishers that can afford to pick up ‘new’ writers (and don’t you hate that, no matter how long you have been writing if you are new to someone then you are new to everyone, ugh!) they can rarely put much money behind them. So, promote you must, and promote you will.

But how?

  A lot of that comes down to you. What are you willing to do and what is your book about?

First things first is the press release. Distill your book into some saleable points, write a brief (and I mean brief) bit about you and where you come from and the like, and then where you can get the book and then send it off to the local papers, the local media, your college, your grade school, and post it to a blog or site if you have one. So that’s done. Next you start spreading the word, so for me, I hate sending out review copies because you rarely seem to get reviewed. Better to give away a few copies to friends and strangers with your contact info and with the explicit instructions that they get the word out and pass the book forward. Lose a sale here and there and get the book out to the world. Get it in hands and get the word out.

So the book is out, what next?

For me, I find that the best response I get and the most sales I get are not from the internet but from people being right in front of me. It takes a lot of gumption to do this, but you will find that if people can pick up and look at the book you will get a good reaction. Now, you need to try to get it into stores as well, for sure, but this is never as easy as it should be since, if you are self published, you are not considered as legit as others so you have to play the ‘local author’ card heavily. But it can and does work. But for sure, get it in stores, if you can, but after that, take the show on the road.

The biggest issue with taking your book out on the road is this – cost versus reward. What will you have to invest into an event – fliers, cards, postcards, books, and whatever else you might need – and what will you make from it? You have to accept that you may take a loss for a while, but you have to then put a limit on that loss. Myself, I never make a lot at conventions but I love doing them so much I sorta do my best and treat them as mini-vacations with some weird, fun people. A lot of events you do will cost, so you better have an idea what you need in supplies and put that against the cost of the event and then decide if it’s worth it. A lot may not be worth it. I know there are definitely shows I ignore because they cost far more I can ever hope to make from them, and it’s just a no-win proposition. Few things as a writer are as frustrating as knowing you wasted money on an event where you get zero interest from people. Drives you mad.

  Ok, so you are going to do events, or try them, but what ones? Well, what is your book? And where do you live? For me, I have done best at small art shows – people are generally open minded, are looking to buy SOMETHING, and if you have a good price and are a good pitch person you are on the right road. Conventions I never did well at but fantasy books seem to kill at them, depending on the con. I know the last two comic cons I did the two fantasy writers I was near made a bunch of loot on their books, so it can work, for sure. Craft shows may be interested in writers but are pretty picky that you be, you know, a crafter. Some cities and towns have writing or book events but if they don’t then start one. If you have writer friends this is infinitely easier but you can put a flier out for other writers. Or you can just ask local bookstores/libraries if you can do a reading or signing there.

The thing with any event you are at though you have to always be promoting it with the understanding that if you cannot get people other than family and friends there then you have a lot more work to do. And even if you don’t sell books at these events you are making in-roads to people. You are doing the hard work. The important work.

    There is no magic in writing, in publishing, or in selling your work. It is perseverance, plain and simple. Writing isn’t natural to anyone, it’s something you work on and develop, over time, and that’s how you have to look at this process. Nothing happens in a day, but if you keep at it, and keep working at it, you’re gonna start breaking through. It’s all about believing in yourself because baby, if you don’t, if you won’t, then who the heck will? Who the heck should?

c

The Players and the Play…

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In my newest book The Meep Sheep the story focuses on four people who are brought together in the hopes of pulling their Kingdom from the brink of forever darkness. The theme of darkness is as old as Mankind itself and is familiar card for those who have ever done any reading. The idea of darkness takes us back to childhood fears and to a time where anything might lurk there waiting to gobble us up. Now we think of people when we think of darkness and of WHO might be lurking there and not WHAT as we once did. It was my hope that in summoning a familiar ‘foe’ like darkness that I might capture a universal fear that seems palpable and real. And in a valley Kingdom where the clouds are in far greater supply than the sunshine, the darkness is very real indeed.

The darkness though is not the enemy here, no, the darkness is but a tool of the enemy, because this enemy is far too clever and too wily to not know that sometimes the oldest and simplest weapons are the most fearful.

But what is a story of villains without the heroes? And thus we return to the players in this piece. When this all began with Messy and the Meep Sheep I had but one character, our intrepid queen out to bring back the sunshine to her Kingdom but as the scope of that world grew I found that I was adding characters, creatures, and was creating not just a place but a world. A world is not a world though without people to connect you to it, and it is these people that kept me connected to the work as a whole.

Queen Messy is a young woman conflicted. Faced with knowing that for generations the women in her family have been the Queens and Mistresses of Magic in the Kingdom of Man is a heavy burden to carry, a burden made even heavier by her not wanting to be like the others. She longs to be an artist and to focus herself on those pursuits, not on ruling a land and its peoples. The Kingdom of Man once faced the ravages of war and while those days are long in the past the shadows of that war run long and still hold sway over the people and the land. Miss Messy must face her own fears and self doubts if she is to be able to find happiness in what she does because if she cannot find happiness in herself, she will never be able to spread happiness to the rest of the Kingdom.

Next comes Ashley Pickles, a young man who wants only the simple things from the world – a song on his lips, a guitar in his  hands, and someone to play to. Now, this wasn’t always the case with young Master Pickles, who as a young man had a voice which could charm the animals from the trees and could warm the coldest of hearts, but when he was taken as an apprentice by a man touched deeply by Ashley’s songs  it was only then that he began to find his true talent and his true voice. Ah, but every great gift has its price, and will Ashley be able and willing to make the sacrifices it takes to truly find his path?

Miss Amanda is a budding reporter in the Kingdom of Man but has yet to land the big story. When something comes between her and something special in her life though she becomes the center of negotiations with an ancient race and Kingdom that was once allied with the Kingdom of Man but which finds itself alienated and opposed to their one time friends. Can this young woman overcome her fear and face the wrath of this old and honored race? Can she bridge the divide once more between her Kingdom and theirs?

Finally there comes No One, the only character not inspired by someone I know. No One was a character that came to me when I was starting to put the first ideas together for what I thought would be the final story of the book (which, it wasn’t, but he IS in the final story as well so it worked out). No One is a man set with one of the gravest and most dangerous of all the jobs in the Kingdom of Man, watching something that is rightfully feared. But as dire as his job is, he knows that if something should happen to what he guards then his Kingdom and indeed all Kingdoms may be lost. But can he hold back a rising tide of fear that comes with fire to face the very thing they have been warned away from all these generations?

The Meep Sheep is a story for all ages, a fairy tale novel made up of several short stories that stitch together to form one narrative.  There is no overt violence, no foul language, but there is darkness here, in theme and actuality. But all good fairy tales confront the darkness and it is only by confronting it that we can conquer it. The book is twelve dollars but is something that can be passed from parent to child, from friend to friend, from teacher to student, and on and on. And once you’ve read it I think you’ll agree with me when I say it’s a story you won’t see, or ever forget.

c

The Meep Sheep – press release

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Press Release – The Meep Sheep by Chris Ringler

Dark clouds have formed in the Kingdom of Man, clouds of dissent, doubt, and worse yet, fear. After a century of peace and sunshine darkness has come to this land, and with it the rumors of unrest, and unless a young queen can stop this brewing storm, her entire world may be destroyed.

The Meep Sheep is Flint author Chris Ringler’s third book and is far different than anything he has released before. The Meep Sheep is a series of fairy tales all set in the Land of Man, where wondrous creatures and amazing people mix in a world where magic has not yet been forgotten. These strangers will journey to find themselves but will also join their destinies together to stop the darkness from overtaking their land before it is too late. This is a book about the joys of self discovery, the wonders of a world where magic is alive and well, and of the dangers of self doubt and fear. The stories of The Meep Sheep follow Messy, a young queen learning to lead, Ashley Pickles, a musician learning to share his gift for music, Amanda, a young journalist who befriends the dangerous Panda Kingdom, and No One, the old man who guards the much feared Great Thicket. Separately they can only battle their own issues but together they can save their world.

This is Chris Ringler’s latest book and will give readers a chance to see a new side of this talented writer. Along with The Meep Sheep Chris is the author of This Beautiful Darkness and Back From Nothing, both of which are darker short story collections. Chris has had three stories published in Bare Bone and was published in Cthulhu Sex Magazine. Mr. Ringler has been writing for nearly twenty years and in this time he has completed a novel and hundreds of short stories. During his writing career he received Honorable Mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2006 and 2007.

Chris Ringler graduated from Lake Fenton High School, in Fenton, Michigan in 1992 and went on to attend Mott Community College and then The University of Michigan – Flint, where he graduated with a BA in 1997. Mr. Ringler is a writer, artist, and photographer and lives in Flint, Michigan and is someone who fell in love with writing and art at a young age. Chris has been doing pop culture conventions and art shows for fifteen years now and hopes to keep getting his book into the hands of readers every chance he can.

For more information please contact the author via email – pumpkinpete@comcast.net

For a full description of the book or to obtain a copy, please visit the E-Store – https://www.createspace.com/3436738

For more info on Chris or his books head to his blog –

www.grimringler.wordpress.com

Review copies are available.

THE MEEP SHEEP available for order NOW!

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I am very proud to announce the release of my newest book – THE MEEP SHEEP, which is a novel told in short story form about the magic and wonder found in the Kingdom of Man. This has been a total labor of love that started over six years ago and which has lead to this.

I am lucky to all of the friends that inspired the book and its characters, the people who bought the chap book of Messy and the Meep Sheep, the friends, my family, and all my loved ones who helped keep me going through all of this and especially to my girlfriend Amanda, who laid the book out and believed in me and the book every step of the way.

THE MEEP SHEEP is available for $12 right now.