A few years ago self-publishing was branded as the scourge of literary accomplishment. Rejected writers would scrape together their silvers and employ dubious vanity presses, only to end up with a hundred hardback doorstoppers and shipwrecked confidence. E-Publishing has now, at last, changed this, opening new prospects to the fleet of previously rejected writers, like me.
We have seen an alphabet of exceptional indie talent already, giving readers fresh, original stories. E-Publishing is not only revolutionising the book industry, but it is also establishing a strong relationship between reader and author. Indie writers live for their reviews, they are our gospel and a reviewers’ time and effort has never been more appreciated. Readers run the show and things are getting exciting.
If it wasn’t for this coup d’etat on literature I wouldn’t be able to present to you my debut fantasy novel Dark Waters – an epic adventure inspired by my love of piracy and fused with bushels of dark humour. This fast paced adventure tells the story of a tribe of pirates battling for survival against tyranny, disease, poverty, genocide and ZOMBIES… you can see where I had problems with the usual publishing houses. It’s not a conventional story, but if my readers enjoy reading it half as much as I have enjoyed writing it then I’ve done my job.
Traditional piracy is scented with romanticism and this has inspired authors for years, whether their interest is the sea, sky or space. Historical monsters like Blackbeard or Low still haunt the ocean with the brutality of their mythical reputation, while in the same century Barthlomew Roberts and the earlier Henry Morgan hoist the flag of nautical heroism.
My lead character Egan Wey swaggers somewhere between these extremes, holding half a bottle of rum in one hand and a smoking pistol in the other. Wey is a hero by circumstance and a villain by choice. If he was sober his conscience would trouble him. Bottle finished and he couldn’t give a rats… Maybe he is a bad man, but he’s about to walk through hell on earth and this isn’t for the weak of heart.
Dark Waters is a swashbuckling collision of action, horror, romance and humour, but first and foremost it is a pirate book. Only, if you search for “pirate book” in your browser you will probably have to trawl a while before you find me. What you won’t have to search for is site after site offering you ebooks for free.
It would be hypocritical of me to praise piracy in one paragraph and then criticize it in another. At the end of the day, just like my character Wey, pirates will always be there and very few of them will change. It’s easy to condemn book piracy, but sometimes it is more cathartic to look at the piracy issue from a different compass point. After all, some readers will never buy books when they can download them illegally, if they read Dark Waters through piracy then at least my audience is growing. Indie writers, before fame and fortune comes beckoning, first need exposure, so should we begrudge cyber opportunists?
Well maybe we shouldn’t force them to walk the plank (which is a big misnomer, but who’s checking?) just yet. Ebook piracy is still theft, just like my pirates on board their ship the Mirage are a rabble of dishonest thieves. I glorify my characters because I am a middle class anarchist, but the very concept of stealing has never settled well with me and so my pirates are forced into piracy. Even in my fiction I have to justify theft, which makes ebook piracy a sore point with me and other authors.
Indie writers are unlikely to be reliant on their earnings and many I imagine are like me and just grateful to be distributing books. What we are reliant on is understanding our audience, gaining feedback, reviews and our rankings. Stealing our ebooks takes these vital components away.
So today I hope to inspire pirates the way pirates have inspired me. If you must pirate indie books then do so with the sober conscience of Egan Wey – leave an honest review where we’ll find it and then give a copy to a friend – also if you could wear an eye patch that would be great.
Pirates, paupers and opportunists alike, Dark Waters will be free for the next 5 days – Avast ye scurvy dogs. http://www.goodreads.com/book/
Pictures prepared by: Huw Hedges 2012
For more art work and ramblings visit http://l-e-fitzpatrick.