Well I’ve done what I once swore I’d NEVER EVER do – I self-published.
I’m old enough so that the archaic term “vanity press” still resonates. Oh, how we used to disdain those desperate, third-rate, talentless writers who had to stoop so low just to get their words into the light of day.
I cut my teeth on the repetitive, mind-numbing, often soul-destroying process of putting a paper manuscript into an envelope and then a mailbox. Then came online submissions! No more paper! But still the challenge of getting past the editorial gate-keeper, the one who could and so often did say “NO!”
My first short story collection took three years to find a home with an independent press. I had arrived, at long last! A carton of beautiful books bearing my name as author arrived at my home in Seattle. Many of these books were given away to friends, family, even total strangers at a group book signing event sponsored by a writers organization I belong to. And the rest? Living happily enough in my sideboard.
Frustrated with poor and infrequent sales, I did what I did back in the days of endless rejections: I whined, complained, bemoaned my fate. Then I hired a publicist, a bright, energetic young woman who showed me how to use social media to get my name in front of potential readers. It doesn’t hurt that this publicist has over 19,000 followers on Twitter. When she recommends a book, a lot of folks know it.
She also wanted to put together a small eBook of three of my short stories. I named it “Where Love Lies.” She designed the cover and the layout. She thought I should invent a press that would publish the stories. Why not? I invented the people in the stories, the houses they lived in, the miseries they endured. I could also invent a press.
Hence, Green Bean Press was born.
Why Green Bean?
That’s a long story. Actually it’s the first story, the one I published many moons ago in The Virginia Quarterly Review called “A Painful Shade of Blue.” Two sisters are commanded by their cranky mother to watch over a pot of beans she’s cooking so she can escape and get her hair done. The sisters fail immediately, the beans burn, and then they, too, escape to avoid the inevitable dressing down they’ll get from Mom. They leave a brief note of explanation. The older sister concludes the note by saying, “Have a bean.” A raw green bean is placed on the paper horizontally, to suggest a feeble, desperate grin.
The bean event is true.
It’s also true that I’m now a self-published author. Times have truly changed. I’m glad I changed with them.