Total Control

[Note: This blog entry was originally posted on the I love Smashwords website. It has since been taken down. I recovered it from the Wayback Machine, because it has particular significance to me. I don’t use Smashwords anymore, but the sentiments are still valid.]

I suspect nobody but me knows this one, but have you ever heard the old Michael Nesmith song, “Total Control,” off one of his solo albums? It’s a lighthearted song about how the singer wants “total control of the airports. Total control of the sea. And total control of the freeway. Total control of police” (Source ). Smashwords gives me just that feeling–that I have total control.

I hit a bad patch of crazy at work a few months back where I was demoted from a job I created about 12 years ago, completely out of the blue or left field or from whichever cliche abrupt changes come. It arrived on top of negative self esteem issues related to my weight. And turning 51. My inner voice felt like the complete opposite of total control. (Good thing I was already seeing a therapist!)

And along came Smashwords.

I’m not even sure now where I found out about this marvel of the e-publishing world, but discover it I did. And ideas starting churning in my head. I had two novels whose pixels were covered in dust. The first novel, Second Death, had been turned down by multiple publishers, with numerous “almost, but not quite” rejections to its credit, despite paying a professional editor a lot of money to edit it (and she loved it too). Why not publish them? What could it hurt?

First, I threw myself into Research Mode. When I get enthusiastic about something, I get enthusiastic in a big way. (Obsession is an ugly word. I prefer euphemisms.) I researched the marketing of e-books, particularly J. A. Konrath and his irascible style. I read every detail about how to upload to CreateSpace and Kindle and Smashwords, their requirements and caveats. I was excited.

When at last I held my breath and pressed the upload button, I felt such a feeling of control. “Total control of all variables,” as Mr. Nesmith would say. I realized I’m not bound by what a publisher thinks of me, what an editor might say, what the fashions and trends in publishing might be. Granted, I’m a firm believer in editors, and cringe at the low quality of many Smashwords descriptions (dang, if the description is that poorly written and edited, I sure won’t read the book). But that’s all up to me. I choose what I want to write, what my cover looks like, all within the boundaries of what Meatgrinder the Mighty will accept. I’m fine with that stricture. (Again, it’s a quality thing. E-published authors won’t get rid of the reputation of “vanity publishing” if we don’t produce quality work.)

Smashwords has given me freedom, and challenged me to write more. I want the instant gratification (well, nearly so) that comes with uploading my own manuscript. I want to see lots of books written by me in my list. So I’d better get busy and write them. I don’t even stress over work anymore. I’m a writer first. My job’s way down the list of importance.

And I have Smashwords to thank. Now I have control of some aspect of my life. And I’m grateful for it.

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