Ken La Salle is active on a variety of artistic fronts, and his book, Climbing Maya, premiers today from Solstice Publishing. Ken recounts his journey to self-publishing, recommends some vendors he’s used, and points out which methods you should avoid in your marketing.
1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.
Climbing Maya asks the question: “What is success?” and doesn’t let go until it has the answer. Is it fame? Is it family? Do the old answers of career and money really hold up? How can we have one word for something that means so many things? How is it the dictionary gets it wrong? When I lost my job, I looked to one friend taking care of his dying wife and another friend killing himself with alcohol, and decided to find the answer. Climbing Maya weaves my search for an answer in the storyline of what happened to my friends and myself as we came to terms with this pivotal question.
2. Why did you become an indie writer?
I certainly did not become an indie writer out of any choice. As a matter of fact, I’ve always pushed marketability and accessibility in my work. I thought those two goals would help me find the mainstream. As it turned out, however, they had little to do with it.
When I first conceived of Climbing Maya, of writing a book about success, I was unemployed and trying to think of ways I might be able to sell my writing. I sat with my wife one night and said, “I could write a horror novel or I could write a philosophical memoir on success.” You know, I wanted to give her clear choices. Not surprisingly, my wife who is an incredible supporter and friend said, “Write what you want to write.” So, I wrote Climbing Maya. I later went back and wrote the horror novel, a zombie book called Wormfood Island.
Wormfood Island was picked up by Northern Frights Publishing, a small publisher out of Canada that is run by one of the best guys around. Unfortunately, Northern Frights had to exist in a rotten economy and Wormfood Island did not come to pass, which hurt a great deal because I thought the horror novel would be the most marketable. Around this time, I had a lot of my writer friends tell me I should be self-publishing. You know, get on the digital bandwagon. While I felt (and still feel) that mass exposure through a larger venue is the way to go, I knew there was some work that I could release myself, work that might have been too far from the mainstream for some and other work that I hadn’t considered approaching a publisher with, such as my compilations.
In the same month that Northern Frights had to back away from Wormfood Island, I got word from the woman who is now my agent about how much she loved Climbing Maya. Climbing Maya is now being published by Solstice Publishing.