Today Don Luis de la Costa settles in to tell us a bit about himself and his books.
My “normal” milieu is difficult to define. One of my all time favorite stories has been a riotous biker adventure story that spans a week of travel as they traveled toward an annual festival buried somewhere in the warmer, more favorable climes of the Southern region of the country, and all the drama that ensures. STARbooks Press also put out my second novella, Men, Amplified, whose central character contains many of my own personality traits, and a few actually personal experiences. Conversely, the two pieces of that I imagine have garnered the most attention – Battery Drain and Mission First – are more Kafka-esque sojourns through syllogistic science fiction logic, and for those perhaps you’ve heard my name. Recently, however, I’ve branched out, or, more specifically, managed to find acceptance for, a few pieces that are clearly outside of what one might consider my ‘normal’ experience: in the paranormal venue.
The first of these to see the light of day was a girl/girl vampire piece accepted by UK based Xcite Books for their “Spirit Lovers” anthology. The second, and much more central to the them of this post is a self-published anthology that includes pieces which either represent or cut across genre and gender lines: “Mythos” which comprises stories loosely based on the action in Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans, and a few other classic mythological themes, which you can find on my Amazon Author’s page.
Self publishing is a concept that has, continues to, and for the foreseeable future will receive a great deal of attention in the media related to the publishing industry for the very same reasons that green energy startups get blasted by those in “power” (most specifically, those producing power): the big fish want to remain the big fish, and not be reduced to the status of guppies, even though, from a strictly Darwinian standpoint, the guppies may be better adapted to a new environment.
Allow me to stop here, for a moment, and share a maxim from Spanish which is one of the guiding principles of my own writing: “Es mejor no escribir nada, que aumentar el número de libros malos que hay en el mundo.” Quite literally – “It is better to write nothing, than to increase the number of poorly written books in the world.” Also permit me to offer my extensive memory of having read a great deal of poorly penned purportedly Pulitzer prize potentials pitifully packaged and portraying paladin-style physiques Photoshopped into the front cover. Almost to a one, they are from larger presses, and it is bothersome to consider the concept that these pass for a section of ‘literature’ which should contain every respectable property of a mainstream work of fiction, simply with a bit of erotic content added. Beyond that, there are some startling new talents whose sole mode of expression, despite there being an actual dearth of authors writing for the bigger houses who can produce desirable material. The rise of what is affectionately termed ‘urban erotica’ – stories whose basis is American big city life, can but does not always include elements of gang activity, and frequently focuses on underrepresented communities, which appeals to a certain cadre of folks, initially began as a few unique authors with self styled covers, hawking their wares on the city streets, until suddenly several publishing houses had to acknowledge the fact that these were credible revenue streams.
So what is the point? You may ask. Publishing your works has been notoriously difficult over time, at least, until the advent of Web 2.0. I would posit that push button publishing platforms have, as a secondary effect, created an entire strata of folks who fancy themselves ‘writers’ simply because they have the immediate validation of seeing their words online, and so begins the conflict. Does participation in social media, logorrheic journal writing, and 140 character short messages necessarily a writer make? I am, for better or worse, a proud member of the partition that thinks not. However, that doesn’t mean that self-publishing using the widely available platforms (CreateSpace, Smashwords, etc.) can’t work. Get a hold of a writer’s group that can review your work, join the discussion groups inherent to the platforms mentioned above, and a beyond that, re-read your story and see if it makes sense, because we are all legends in our own minds – especially me. Inform yourself of the perils and the benefits, Mitzi Szereto has written a few interesting blog articles regarding this, to which I have commented on occasion, but there is wide writing on the topic. Also, don’t forget about the legal implications, consult others who have done it, or find legal advice where you can, and don’t be afraid to pay for good advice. Whatever your message is, make sure it is one that engages, is clear, entertains, and is communicated well within the pages of your story, and uses language appropriate to the telling, then go about the design and implementation phase, which is very much going to be a whole different ball of wax (and for which you may also need to bring in help) but is not an entirely untenable situation. Lastly, have fun with it! This is your work, after all, and it needs all the love, sweat, and tears you put into the story for the package. If you simply see the process as a process, a means to achieving an end, it will go much smoother.