A friend of mine took a leap, a big leap. She polished up her baby, set the plan in motion and kicked it out of the nest. Thus far, Blood Leverage by JS Hazzard was been well received, well reviewed and reasonably well purchased.
Sounds simple, right?
I was present for much of the final stages of this event, and saw the monumental effort and stainless steel guts it took to bring the product to market. Every detail imaginable was agonized over, repeatedly. Decisions were questioned. Approaches were studied. Between graphics, giveaways, conversions to ebook and print, marketing philosophies, and hundreds of edits, the process appeared never ending, like a torturous mobius strip of decisions.
Thus far, the work paid off. Blood Leverage is a sharply written and packaged story that can stand square with the best the modern traditional publishers offer – except JS Hazzard did it all the heavy lifting, with an occasional assist help from her friends. I glad to be one of them.
Not that anyone asked, but since I'm in a giving mood, I'll share what I've learned about self publishing:
- Nothing is easy.
- Quality is king.
- Friends make coping and execution easier.
- Marketing has no one 'sure-fire' method for success – but can be tweaked in-flight.
- Reviews are good. More are better.
- Product is good. More is better.
- The best appear to be having fun with what they're doing.
JS and several other self-pub acquaintances I know have these elements covered. It works. As an added bonus, my friends are supportive with advice, promotion and getting in on the fun as a group. Though our genres are varied, we share a common bond. No one is out to assassinate the other and we share the joy of each other's success.
But back to Blood Leverage. Take a minute to look at it, read up on JS and check out the sample pages. Don't worry, I'll wait.
See what I mean? This is quality stuff and done the way JS Hazzard wanted it done. Every decision was hers, and she bears responsibility for its failure and full credit for its success. There is no corporate marketing push behind her, as well as no advance to earn back. There is no multi book deal requiring 'approved' subject matter or genre, as well as no rigid schedule for when JS releases her next work. She has no group of Manhattan-savvy insiders and no one with their hand out for their share. JS Hazzard has become an island, one of many in a helpful, coexisting chain.
Sound wonderful, and to a degree it is, but never think it didn't require daunting amounts of work.
I won't go into detail about book specifics, mostly because it's not the point of this post. Many others will handle that task. My intent is to inform and celebrate the determination of an author who picked up the shovel and dug the damn hole, without any guarantee of reward besides self-satisfaction of doing it her way.
She's got guts and ability, and like me, should not be underestimated.
Besides, she has friends. Lots of them.
Want to learn more about JS Hazzard? Here's a few links:
(Twitter feed) @JSHazzard