My Self-publishing Model: A Partner-in-Crime

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I’ve written a general overview of the self-publishing model that I am trying to put together, and I have previously gone further into the Kickstarter aspect of it. This post dives into the partner-in-crime aspect. My creative counterpart is my boyfriend, Mista Brooks. Warning: this post is going to get gushy.

A mutual friend introduced us virtually, through email. I was graduating with my MFA and trying to get a copy writer position at EMP museum where he works as the curator. Brooks didn’t respond to my first email. Unbeknownst to me, he was going through a rough time after experiencing a death in the family. I was persistent, and I emailed him again a week later. He responded promptly, and we set up a time to meet at a coffee shop on June 24th, 2014.

I’m pretty sure I summoned Brooks into my life, though he claims to have summoned me. I had been actively imagining someone like him showing up. He walked into that coffee shop, said an awkward ‘hello’ and sat down. Our connection was instantaneous. We talked for over an hour about our creative lives (the copy writer position was barely mentioned), and both of us knew we wanted to see each other again.

The day we met I posted this on Facebook:

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And Brooks wrote this to a friend:

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Brooks invited me to a Clarion West party that Friday, which I refer to as our ‘preliminary date.’ Afterward, he walked me to the bus stop. We were both too chicken to ask each other out. I worked up the courage by the time I got home, and emailed him my number and an invitation to hang out again. On our first date we met at another cafe to do some writing. I worked on The Alchemist’s Theorem and he wrote an incredible short scifi story that’s now published in the current issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

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And three months later I moved in. It’s been a year and some change and things just keep getting better. Not only are we enjoying the general contentment and scattered moments of euphoria that come with attachment love, but we are cherishing the creative partnership we have formed.

When we met, we both had our creative ambitions, as well as an array of skills between us, but we lacked the wherewithal to pull it all off as individuals. As soon as we started dating we also started working together. I finally landed on a single project to focus my efforts, while Brooks went from slowly toiling with his year-long project to actively working on it. Most evenings, after work, we sit side-by-side, on our little couch, checking off creative tasks, one at a time. It became an easy routine that developed organically, we never even had a conversation about trying to do it. It just happened.

We share our skills in order to advance each others’ projects. I’m a good videographer, and I have a knack for marketing. I put these abilities to good use for Brooks’ awesome, quirky mobile game Tea Frenzy. And I love doing it. I don’t help because I feel obligated, I do it because I know it’s a good project and that it’s going to do well. Working on it is fun, and whenever we get a good hit due to our efforts, it’s a total rush.

Brooks copy edited my manuscript for me, and he also helped with the final proofreading. He is a fantastic editor. He is an expert in the field of genre fiction, and knows me and my work well. His line editing helped to not only improve the work itself, but it helped improve my skills as a writer. This task was time consuming for him though, and there was some tension between us at one point because it took time away from his own project, and he has a demanding full-time job to boot. We totally managed it without letting that tension turn into a problem because we were thoughtful and intentional about it, communicating the whole time.

His other important creative skills include design; his attention to detail is the finest. He knows Adobe InDesign and Illustrator well, and he put a great deal of effort into the layout, design and file export of my book. Brooks is also good with graphics, especially vectors. He made the graphics for my mini Moo cards and bookmarks, using the book’s illustrations. I’m quite good at teaching myself new skills, and I am sure I will eventually learn how to do all of these things well, but that will take a great deal of time. If it weren’t for Brooks, my book wouldn’t be finished and about ready to launch next month.

We work well together. Sometimes his feedback will strike my ego and I will growl at him or say something grumpy. He’s good at ignoring me and not taking it personally, while I’m good at quickly identifying and neutralizing my egos tantrums, getting past the irrational response and listening to good advice. More importantly, we are very good at encouraging each other. We share so much enthusiasm for each others’ work, and it helps drive our ambitions. The support system we’ve built is essential to our whole creative ecosystem.

Brooks and I have what many people dream about. We feel like we won the lottery. And the best part is that we’ve only just started. How exciting is that? It will be a thrill to see where we are creatively in a year.

Hopefully we’ll be living in a slightly bigger apartment with a cat by then.

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