Sooooo… best-selling children’s author, Cornelia Funke, has created her own publishing company, in essence, turning to sophisticated self-publishing strategies to gain creative control over her work. In a Publisher’s Weekly article, Funke “cites creative differences with her U.S. publisher [Little, Brown],” as the motive behind her decision. Not only did she see her Reckless series as better suited for ages 14 and older (and she argued with her publishers about pigeonholing her for younger readers for seven years), Funke was adamant that her first chapter remain where it was and her ending remain as it was. Also intending to publish her backlist through the newly minted Breathing Books, her arguments for this bold move make such good sense: “I want to be a sailboat so I can fit into other places. If I have to figure this out myself, good! I feel I’m at a time in my career when I can afford to do this, and where I can say, as long as I cover my costs, I’m fine. I have many traditional publishers in Europe, Asia, and South America who still earn me money. And I can finally be a storyteller for all ages.”
What a fine example of why self-publishing or, in Funke’s case, taking the publishing bull by the horns is such a fine new model. One can’t help but admire her and, for those who write, hope to emulate her. But, of course, I must offer a caveat. Cornelia Funke has sold 20 million copies of her traditionally published books worldwide. (The very article that I cite above was shared 1.4k times in but two days; Facebook cites 19,733 likes for her author page and she has thousands of Twitter followers.) She is adored and loved and followed and tweeted about on a daily basis. Her audience is loyal and eagerly awaiting, so there is every likelihood that this new venture will prove a resounding success (and if it is not, she will not starve in her Beverly Hills home).
Those who want to self-publish are seldom as well-placed as Funke. So necessary to successful self-publishing are the co-joined investments of time and money in order to create a professional product, market and sell it. If you don’t have Funke’s resources or a similar fan base, the road to a self-published bestseller is hard, indeed.
As writer Hugh Howie shares in Publisher’s Weekly, “successful authors work their butts off either way. There is no such thing as a lazy successful author. With a publisher or not, the author will be expected to market themselves. They will do interviews and go on grueling book tours, or they will be asked to write blog posts, to read and blurb other books from the publisher, and so on. Both sets of authors will be expected to engage with their readers on Twitter and Facebook. They will do signings at bookstores, or they will sit at craft fairs. The ones who eke out even a part-time living will outwork their colleagues who don’t. Forty hours of writing on top of a full-time job and caring for a family is the norm.”
But hats off to Cornelia Funke for her derring-do! I wonder if the same might be accomplished with a handful of intrepid and audacious CanLit authors who’d link arms and create an independent publishing company for publishing their own books. It’s been tried to some success before…
This week’s great un-/ undersung CanLit title worth checking out:
Food for the Gods – Karen Dudley “Dudley has quite elegantly and creatively taken a classic Greek myth and woven it into something unique. The base idea of taking Pelops, someone who had been served up as food for the gods, and making him into a chef, is brilliant. It is the ultimate source of all of the conflict in the story….The author’s love for mythology is apparent in this story, through simply defining it as a fantasy does not do it justice. It is equal parts mystery and comedy, not to mention being raucous thanks to a certain pair of gods who are just trying to help.” – Winnipeg Review
Writing Quote: “The good news about self publishing is you get to do everything yourself. The bad news about self publishing is you get to do everything yourself.” – Lori Lesko, self-published American author
Writing Tips: “If you have market aspirations for your book, buy your own ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and create your own publishing company.”
Writing Prompt: “Empathy is first of all an act of imagination, a storyteller’s art, and then a way of traveling from here to there. What is it like to be the old man silenced by the stroke, the young man facing the executioner, the woman walking across the border, the child on the rollercoaster…?” from Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby