Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Story – Cheryl Anne Gardner

1) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?

As a writer of novellas, I was in a very particular predicament. Reason being, although the Novella is a common literary form in most European countries, it hasn’t caught favor over here, and is very difficult to market … being too long for most literary magazines and too short for mainstream publishers. Steven King, author of numerous novellas, has called the literary form: an ill-defined and disreputable literary banana republic.

Despite its marketing problems, however, the novella's length provides unique advantages; it allows for more extended development of theme and character than does the short story, without making the elaborate structural demands of the full-length book. Thus, it provides an intense, detailed exploration of its subject, providing to some degree both the concentrated focus of the short story and the broad scope of the novel.

So, my answer would be: one, to pay tribute to the novellas that inspired me to pick up the pen in the first place. And two, not to let the magic of this literary form fade away into history.

In this regard, self-publishing was the perfect way to do this. And it has far exceeded my expectations, as the books produced are of exceptional quality. I had imaginings in the back of my mind of cardboard covers and stapled, flimsy pages, was I ever wrong.

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?

I was referred to LULU by a friend and fellow published author. She had used LULU in the past for seminar and promotional copies, and she found the site user friendly with a great deal to offer aside from basic publishing services. Help forums, editing, and cover design services … etc.

3) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?

Wonderful! Yes, I am achieving my goals. To clarify goals a bit, I never went into this with the intention of becoming a best-seller, or making a million dollars. Self-publishing will not make you an over-night success. But if you believe in your work, and are willing to spend the exhaustive amount of time and effort it takes to publish a good quality piece of work, then this might be the avenue to take. I currently have three novellas on the market and have a loyal following of readers, a small following, but readers nonetheless, and my books have been received and reviewed well. So, has success been achieved, well, for me, YES!

4) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?

Do not rush. Take the time, edit, edit, and then edit more. If you do not have the grammatical talent or skill for editing, find someone who does, be honest with yourself. Also, knowledge of various software packages is a must, especially if you plan on designing your own covers and formatting your own text: Photoshop, Digital Image, Adobe, and whatever word processing program you choose. I also recommend investing in a good grammatical error-checking software program. Self-publishing is an artistic endeavor. It’s not simply about the words or the flow and structure of the story. While those are exceedingly important to the overall quality of the work and much of your time and energy will be invested in the actual story, the graphics on the cover and the layout of the pages are crucial for marketing reasons. Self-publishing is not simply about writing a great story … and it should be great if you decide to move forward, but you are in charge of everything, the success of your material is in your hands. Your reputation as an artist demands that you invest yourself completely. If you cannot do that, then self-publishing is not for you.

And on the topic of vanity, yes, that is a word that looms heavy over self-publishing. But I see no reason for it. Many famous authors, since the dawn of time, were self-published. And they did this for no other reason than they believed in their work, even though it might have been deemed too risqué, too uncensored, too unmarketable. They took the risk. Many great discoveries would not have seen the light of day if their discoverer didn’t take the risk.

My Latest Novella: The Splendor of Antiquity

This story is not nearly as dark as my other two novellas, but I think that my devoted readers will enjoy it, even without the murder and mayhem.

Despite the fact that it is, in essence, a tale of romance, it still expounds upon the existential and philosophical ideals that all of my novellas possess as a driving force. Antiquity is not simply the story of the love between Joliette and Botton, it is a story of their journey towards life fulfillment – the pursuit of Love, Faith, and a Passion. It is also the story of memories … how they shape our lives … and how they are not always as accurate as we would desire them to be.

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