Shinny's Girls The Trilogy

Lessons from an indie musician

On a recent trip to New Orleans, I chanced on a performance by Helen Gillet and her band at the Three Muses.
I was looking for what I described to the doorman as interesting jazz, and he recommended I come back for the 9 o'clock show. Helen, a cellist, and her group, which consisted that night of a sousaphone, a clarinet and ... (I forget the fourth instrument), delivered a set that charmed me with its rhythms, playfulness, and the novel combination of sounds. On the way out, I ran into Helen, taking a break, and thanked her and she recommended that I come to Bacchanal where she performs regularly on Monday nights. So I did, and when she announced that she was going to be touring the northwest,  and was willing to do house concerts, I wrote down my email and invited her to stop in my town, a ferry ride north of Vancouver.

Short version is that in middle of February she started out from Louis Armstrong airport with a roadie and her equipment in a rented car, and drove across Highway 10 to Joshua Tree, south of San Diego, then headed north, stopping at various venues along the way and eventually arriving in Vancouver for a show at the The China Cloud on March 1.
The next day she sailed over, and that night performed for a petite but wildly enthusiastic audience at Boomers Burger Bar. The Boomers group may have been her smallest audience, maybe not, but it didn't matter to the quality of her work. She played with all the passion and inventiveness I admired when I first saw her on Frenchman Street, and the next day, after a walk on the beach, she packed up to continue onto Denver and Kansas City, and finally back to New Orleans, where she had a date around St. Patrick's day.

I admire her not only for her musical chops, but also for her go-for-it spirit, the way she maintains contacts, works hard to organize a tour and then drives herself all over the continent to play for most any audience of most any size. She feels comfortable as an indie musician, managing herself, promoting her work, producing cd's she describes as self-released.

That's like self-publishing, really, but self-releasers are better accepted - even considered cool - in the established music world. In the literary world there lingers that stigma of vanity publishing, and I can't say that I have been able to entirely shake it, despite joining the leagues of self-publishers with my latest novel You Again. Maybe I'm the wrong generation. I hear about committed, adamant and successful self-publishers (Cory Doctorow) and read rah-rah self-publishers on the various sites I peruse each week. I agree with the principle of being an independent, and, now, having set up a couple of dates to introduce the print version, I'm working to feel just as confident about presenting You Again as I did about the previous two novels in the trilogy, Shinny Girls and Flashing Yellow, which were published the conventional way. Here goes!

What now?

Shinny's Girls, the trilogy is now available to e-readers!

It is finished, yet does not feel complete, so I ask, what now? In the past when I have published a book, a package arrives in the mail - the author's copies - and the pleasure of fruition is sensual, the smell of the newly printed book, the feel of the smooth cover, sometimes even a slight crackle as the top copy pulls away from the one just beneath. This time, my first experience with e publishing, it was a matter of pressing the Save and Publish button on the Kindle Direct site, and waiting 12 hours for the book to be vetted (however mysteriously that is accomplished) before seeing the book cover, blurb and ordering information appear on the Amazon site. A little anti-climatic, if still satisfying to have come to this point in the long creation of this volume.
       I found out the hard way that one must meticulously follow every step in the formatting guide, rather than winging it more or less logically to achieve the same end, in this case, indents. After the first attempt I made with the aid of my mentor Steve Harlow, I discovered that although I thought I had formatted correctly, manual tabbing was not acceptable, so I spent a day and a half manually removing all the tabs and creating first line indents for the whole document via the paragraph menu.
     At this point, if this were a paper book, the publisher would be sending it to newspapers, magazines and broadcasters for reviews. There would be a book launch, possibly a tour, readings, signings. I would register my new title in the Public Lending Right program and with Access Copyright. It might be nominated for a literary prize. (Is there one for perseverance?)
      Over the next several months I will discover more about the next steps, have some answers for the "what now?" But as of this week, my feet are officially wet.