As an independently published writer, I don't get a lot of accolades. Those of you who have taken the plunge understand what I'm talking about. You know your work is good but for whatever reason, it hasn't caught on with a large publisher yet.
Regardless of the reason you go with a small publisher, it means you're got a tough road ahead of you. As with a large publisher, the author is responsible for the bulk of the marketing. However, without a large publisher you don't have something that traditionally published authors do - cred. Short for, credibility. This is unfortunate since some of the best books I've read in years have been independently published.
At the same time, some of the worst books I've ever read are also independently published. Often, seemingly, without even running spell check. And that alone wouldn't have fixed the massive grammatical and continuity errors in the even the first few pages. Aside from the nonexistent plot and playing-card thin characters.
But being independently published, even if your work is good, the feedback comes slow. Getting reviews is hard. Getting reviews from established and respected reviewers is even harder. Getting the word out to buyers seems even more impossible at times. So each one of those positive reviews can be like gold to the indie-pubbed writer. But even those can get old when sales are lagging. You can get to doubting yourself and wondering if your work is any good.
With that in mind, and knowing that feeling only too well, I was delighted to get an email today from the Eric Hoffer Award for Books. They've been around for a dozen years now and have grown to be one of the largest and most respected indie book awards out there. Each year they get thousands of submissions and pick just a few for a variety of categories. The grand prize even has a $2,000 cash award. So hearing that my novel, The Silla Project is a finalist for the Montaigne Medal was quite a rush!
In addition to the normal categories, the Eric Hoffer Award for Books gives out several medals for special categories. The Da Vinci Eye goes to the best cover art. The First Horizon Award goes to exceptional work by debut authors. And the Montaigne Award is given to a few books that best exemplify the ideals of the great, French Renaissance philosopher Michel de Montaigne, as works that illuminate, progress, or redirect thought. I can't be more proud and thrilled that The Silla Project is a finalist for this respected award. But then, I've known for some time that no one who reads The Silla Project comes away unchanged.
The Silla Project is not a normal book. It began as a dream. A way out of having to rely on engineering to pay my bills. I was going to write thrillers and be the next Tom Clancy! It was a twist of fate that led to my choosing to set the story in North Korea. It was the plight of the North Korean people that redirected my thoughts to telling their story.
After four years of intensive - some would say obsessive - study of North Korea and nuclear weapons, I had lost all interest in writing a mass market thriller. It became my mission to do what I could to bring the horror of that evil regime to light in a way people could relate to. To help the people trapped in that real-life Zombie apocalypse. So it is with tremendous hope that the honor of being a finalist for the Montaigne Medal might help The Silla Project achieve a wider audience and help others to come to understand North Korea for what it is. As my friend, fan, and inventor of high-temperature conductivity, Dr. Jim Ashburn said, "It may be the largest hostage crisis of all time."
John C. Brewer is the author of Multiplayer an MMOG YA SF novel, and The Silla Project, a North Korean nuclear romance. You can learn more about him and what he is doing at his website, JohnCBrewer.com