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0 Friday, February 25, 2011

OC alumnus becomes self-published author

by Lindsey Lewis

Thousands of aspiring authors dream of getting a manuscript published. With the development of self-publishing options, many writers’ dreams can become reality.

Alumnus Scott Kinkade recently self-published his first book, titled “Mirai: A Promise to Tomorrow.” Kinkade used a service called Create Space to create a professional novel.

“You have to convert your manuscript [to] the PDF and then upload it to Create Space,” Kinkade said. “They have this program that lets you create a cover. They have different public domain pictures you can use, or you can import your own pictures.”

Kinkade found inspiration to write through literature and creative writing classes at Oklahoma Christian University.

“I took literature classes where we had to read books, and that helped me get a feel for literature,” Kinkade said.

Kinkade started writing his book in 2005, while he was still a senior in college. He finished the first draft in December 2009 and spent the better part of 2010 editing. He was finally able to publish his work by the end of August.

“The hardest part about self-publishing is having to do your own editing, since you don’t have editors to help you out,” Kinkade said. “It’s up to you to make sure your book is well-written.”

A course in creative writing helped Kinkade discover his knack for sci-fi. Even back then professors noticed his work ethic and imagination, two crucial qualities for creative writers.

“Scott worked hard in my classes and took to heart the feedback he received from other students in our in-class workshops, as well as from me,” retired Professor of Language and Literature Peggy Gipson said. “One of the things I especially admired in Scott was his determination to try different genres to find the one with which he was most comfortable and in which he could excel.”

The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic future controlled by a totalitarian government. The tale follows the protagonist and his friend through their attempts to escape. “Mirai: A Promise to Tomorrow” and Kinkade’s other works can be accessed at authorsden.com, and the first five chapters are available at thegamecalledrevolution.blogspot.com.

While Kinkade went the self-publication route, writers generally find it difficult to achieve success without a publishing company because of the inability to market. Some do not even want to consider publishing without help from a company.

“To me, getting published is about making money, not about getting recognition,” senior Candyse Hart said. “I don’t see any reason to publish something myself unless it’s some sort of a Thomas Paine situation where I have a political or social agenda. I understand I am in the minority on this viewpoint, and if I was writing for recognition I might self-publish.”

However, others find numerous benefits to self-publication while still admitting to some of its disadvantages.

“The number one pro [of self-publication] is having your work out there, if you really want it published,” Associate Professor of Language and Literature Rebecca Briley said. “The number one con is marketing. You have to market everything yourself.”

If a large company publishes a piece of work, the author is required to travel on book tours while the company drives the publicity and makes demands on the author. The lack of such demands from a publishing company, however, is one of the perks when self-publishing a manuscript.

“The problem isn’t so much that you have to pay to have it published, because it really isn’t that much,” Briley said. “Some of the big houses that might be paying you thousands of dollars will also charge you for different things, so that’s a wash. I don’t think cost is really the drawback [to self-publication].”

The leading difference between self-publishing and getting a company to publish a piece of work is the profit margin. It is almost necessary for an author looking to make substantial profits to get backing from a publishing company. The success of self-published books like “The Shack” is the exception, not the rule.

“If you want to make money, you almost have to go with big publishing houses,” Briley said. “To get noticed by the big publishing houses, you have to have an agent.”

Finding a good agent presents another hurdle for authors to jump before their writing can reach the masses.

“Getting an agent is not as easy as it used to be,” Briley said. “There’s more agents out there, but the competition is just greater.”

Even if a writer can produce a worthwhile book in his or her genre, trends change, and some genres fall out of popularity. For example, vampire fiction experienced a huge boom over the past few years, but the audience has been saturated. The remaining vampire fiction writers missed the window in which their books would have sold.

“With our economy, everybody has to make money, and a lot of things are not making money,” Briley said. “There’s a lot of genres that are not selling right now, a lot of subject matters that are cliché or passé. I was told that the latest craze in adult fiction is Amish, but I think it’s already on the way out.”

One important quality an aspiring young writer has to have is patience. Most people assume if they have a natural talent to write, the rest will fall into place. Becoming a successful author takes hours of reading and writing, editing, rewriting and searching for agents and publishers.

“Getting published has always been a challenge,” Gipson said. “My advice to aspiring writers is to write and never give up. If they are serious about writing, they will write, and nothing will keep them from writing. Writing is hard work. Most successful writers know that. Many aspiring writers see only the glamour of being published.”

Whatever the motivation or inspiration for writing, both Gipson and Briley suggest writers not approach the profession lightly.

“Writing is not a profession for sissies,” Gipson said.

Photo by: Nick Conley

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