Monday, April 8, 2013

Why I Want YOU to Self-Publish

--Ramble Warning: this post rambles a lot.--

Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: I'm not just talking about books and poetry. I'm not just talking about editorials, opinion pieces, or other literatures. I'm talking about everything. Music, video, art, anything. If you make any of this material, if you're an artist of any variety, self-publish your stuff. Of course if you've got yourself a contract with somebody and you're making some serious bank on it, you can feel free to ignore this blog post. You probably don't want to hear it, anyway. But if you've been toiling for a few years on projects, you aren't looking for the fame, or you're just in it for the hobby (or any of a million other reasons close to home) you should put that out there, and put it out yourself.

The Internet has been around for something like twenty years now, probably more, and for at least the past fifteen of those years there has been no shortage of easy to use and cost effective ways for independent artists and hobbyists to get themselves known. However, no matter how popular DeviantArt seems to be or how active the viewer base on YouTube is, publishing on them still hasn't become mainstream. Hell, I doubt most people actually even know what DeviantArt is, despite its massive user base. And that's a shame.

We live in interesting times, people, and it's about time you contributed to making it even more interesting. We live and have been living in a time where any individual person can hop on one of numerous web platforms and open up a blog and write editorials and articles to their heart's content. We have been living in a time where writers and storytellers and poets and all manner of linguist can, at no cost to themselves, create digital books or, if it suits their fancy, physical paperback and hardcover books. Of their work! We have been living in an era where artists of pretty much every medium can upload their art to DeviantArt and sell framed prints if that's what suits their fancy. We live in a time where independent film makers can make their own movies or film serials or animations and opinion programs and monetize these programs with commercials. We live in a time where musicians and garage bands can record their jams and upload them to pretty much any place on the Internet and offer physical disc albums from stores like Amazon or their own website.

There certainly isn't any shortage of indies and do-it-yourselfers taking advantage of this expressive freedom. As far back as the early 2000s creative talent has been plastered all over the Internet, from the pioneer flash animators like Joe Sparks to the breakout successes of the literary field like Hugh Howey. Websites like Newgrounds have existed as enormous digital galleries since the mid 90's. There really isn't any shortage of people utilizing these websites and their services, but there still aren't enough. Too many people visit these pages as viewers and say to themselves: "Boy, I wish I could do that. I wish I could be on Newgrounds."

In their minds that takes powers beyond their means. It takes some representative swooping in and spiriting them away to the mystical land beyond kept gates. This is wrong. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. Every single human alive today with an Internet connection, a percentage of the population which is growing larger with each passing day, can publish their art in whatever manner suits their fancy. They can publish it for money, they can publish it for free, they can even publish it privately and share it with only a few friends and relatives. They can do it. You can do it. And I want you to.

We live in a time where every human being can actually have a voice. More importantly, we live in a time where every human being can have that voice heard. There are millions of people out there who push the agenda that not every voice deserves to be heard, but that is beyond a single load of bull. Why should we leave it to the few self-appointed elite to decide what voices should and should not be heard? Why are we not letting the people decide which voices deserve to be heard?

Your voice deserves to at least be spoken, if not heard. So speak. Speak loud! I want you to speak, I don't care if I like what I hear. We have been given this opportunity to turn the tables. We have been given this chance to finally freely express the opinions of the average bloke. We, as a species, finally have the ability to not let ourselves be censored by the elite forces which have for so long driven the widely accessible media. I'm not saying we can usurp them over night. YouTube movies aren't going to show up in theaters any time soon. But we can make a change. We have this opportunity to build a culture based on ideas and art and creativity instead of one built on bumbling drones. We have the rare opportunity to break the political borders of our countries. We have the rare opportunity to develop a culture of our species, one that embraces ideas and expression.

I'm not saying it will be a quick transition, and I'm not saying it will be an easy one. There are forces already at work fiercely attempting to censor the Internet before the generation born on it, the generation that understands it, grows up into the generation that will utilize it. These are the people pushing for such movements as SOPA and its multiple international offspring. You want to know a secret? These are the gatekeepers. These are the mega corporations which have, for decades past, controlled what media the public sees, what media the public believes, what voices are heard, what movies are made, what books are published, what posters are printed, what bands are heard. These corporations know the threat that the Internet is, and they will do whatever it takes to sink it before it leaves port.

You are part of this crew. You must help keep the ship afloat. And you do that by screaming, singing, writing, drawing. This boat runs on an engine of ideas. We live in a world that gives us the opportunity not to let Disney be the deciding factor in what media we consume. We can change the course of our species. You can change the course of our species.

Hell, we could change the economy if we all got on this boat. I don't know which way it would tip, but it would definitely tip somewhere. If every person self-published some piece of art we could end up in a world where we fund each other's lives just by purchasing the art we craft. I know this is a largely fairy land reality, but we could make a change. Maybe for the better. Of course you aren't going to get rich at it. Adolescence has only sold three copies: one from myself, one from my girlfriend, and one from another friend. But if we all got three small sales like that, well, we'd all have the money to eat one other lunch. And here's the beauty part of it: Adolescence will make me more money in the future. It might only be another two dollars, or it could take off and make two hundred. It doesn't really matter, because I plan on having it available until I die. And I'm hoping for at least fifty years on that.

We have this chance to change everything. You need to start taking it.