“It Feels Just Like A Real Book!”

First Copy“Wow,” my son said when I handed him one of the first copies of The Same Old Story, my just-published mystery novel from Crazy 8 Press, “It feels just like a real book!”

“It is a real book!” I said, somewhat indignantly. The kid is seventeen years old and in addition to my good looks, he also inherited my knack for being snarky. I mean, it’s not as though this were the first book of mine he’s ever seen; I’ve had a couple dozen published, many in his lifetime. I just assumed he was being a wiseass. But he wasn’t.

“No, I mean, I thought because you guys were publishing it yourself, it was going to be a little, y’know…cheesy.”

I didn’t bother pointing out to Max (after whom the protagonist of The Same Old Story is named, and to whom the book is dedicated) that as a musician, he played, recorded, engineered, and produced his own music and the music of his friends the same way the authors at Crazy 8 Press wrote, designed, and produced our own books. I can’t tell the difference between the music he’s produced and the records that come out of “real” recording studios because thanks to digital desktop technology, there really isn’t a difference.

Just a few years back, when he was in middle school, he’d been friends with the daughter of a major recording artist and used to hang out at her house. He had been amazed to find out that this singer/songwriter, whose latest (at the time) album (which I had coincidentally been listening to to death for a couple of years), had been recorded in the guy’s basement. He thought music had to come out of a “real” recording studio.

Now, Max can sit on his bed in his room with a guitar, his MacBook, and some doohickey that plugs into both, and record just like the big boys. When he needs to record himself on the drums, or his friends on vocals, he plugs a couple of microphones into his doohickey and he’s good to go. And, at his age, he’s all about not just the music, but the authenticity of the work and what it says about the artist who made it. He’s got no patience for contrived “corporate” music (i.e. anything that’s Auto-Tuned, which is pretty much pretty much everything played on the radio these days).

In other words, it ain’t where the music is recorded. It’s about who’s recording it and what–if anything–the music has to say.

Around the same time, I was taking my first tentative steps into the brave new world of self-publishing via Smashwords and Amazon. The Same Old Story was, in fact, first published as an eBook, after making the rounds of several brick and mortar publishing houses. The editors who rejected it were very nice about the book, but even then the chances of an author at my level (basically unknown beyond the small pond of the comic book industry) were somewhere between slim and none for getting published.

Now, just a few short years later, the accessibility and quality of Print on Demand (POD) publishing has made it possible for anyone to publish anything (and, skimming through the sites of many POD providers, just about anyone does).

Crazy 8 Press, on the other hand, is a publishing hub for a group of authors who had all been previously published by the big, traditional publishing houses; some of their books have made it to the New York Times bestseller list, a couple of them more than once. But their frustration with the current state of the industry lead them to take matters into their own hands and launch their own imprint. Real authors in a real publishing collective producing real books…more than twenty titles in its first two years. Shelf any C8P title in your local Barnes & Noble (providing they haven’t gotten rid of all the books to make room for Kindle accessories) and you wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from books published by Penguin or Random House.

So, “No, Pumpkin,” I told Max (I like to call him “Pumpkin,” especially in front of his hipster doofus friends even if he has grown up with an immunity to my mockery). “We may not be HarperCollins or Doubleday, but this is real, big boy publishing, only the writer gets to keep total control over his work. Just like the music you’re making.”

He hefted his copy of The Same Old Story, nodded seriously, and said, “Cool. I think maybe I’ll even read it.”

The Same Old Story and Crazy 8 passed my snarky, cynical, punk rock playing hipster drummer kid’s authenticity test (and believe me, he wasn’t being nice to spare his old man’s feelings; Pumpkin and I don’t roll that way when it comes to opining on one another’s creative efforts, where honesty is the only policy). While that may not mean much to you, to me it’s about the best indication I’ve received that, yeah, The Same Old Story really is a real book.

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