I recently published a novel I’ve had kicking around for the best part of a year, as an Amazon Kindle ebook, and in the process I’ve learned something important about how easily we can allow aspects of a project to turn into monsters, obscuring the actual creative work that matters.
I’m not going to drone on about my book, so don’t worry. This isn’t the place for that. But I think it’s worth using it as an example of a project into which the extra stages which traditionally creep in and assume a disproportionate amount of importance have been removed in one single swoop.
Specifically, I mean Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, which really highlights the issue for me.
It used to be that as an author, you’d spend a year writing a book and then years after that, trying to get the attention of a literary agent who might recommend you to a publisher. You’d spend far more time trying to peddle it than you did creating it in the first place. I get why that’s so, in a saturated world where there’s more and more bilge to sift through in the search for a potential commercial hit, but it’s never been much fun for the author.
With Kindle Direct Publishing however, Amazon makes it easy to publish, set a price and start selling. The emphasis of work has suddenly been returned to the process of writing, just as it should be.
Of course by publishing this way, you’re one of many books on a very busy site, and getting attention for your work is hard. But people who emphasize that as a means of discrediting the process are assuming that any traditional publisher of a new novelist would make any sizeable effort at marketing on their behalf anyway.
Aside from publishing, the reason this topic has suddenly set all my dendrites buzzing is because it’s highlighted for me how much time in my life I’ve wasted in pointless meetings, discussions, planning sessions and hours of research and report creating that have prevented me from putting the wheels of a project in motion even when the creative thinking is sound enough to take a chance on.
I’m sort of an instinctive guy and I’m happy to take risks to test my instincts. But often I’ve seen the wheels of a great creative idea grind to a halt because others feel more proof is needed before they’ll give things a whirl.
That kind of goes against the creative grain.
It’s not like relying on your instincts isn’t fraught with pitfalls of its own. But at least it’s about action. And personally, I’d pick that, every time.