A Dangerous Woman Story Studio is an experimental arts and communications lab. It merges the arts with the science so that I conduct reliable and valid experiments on my work. Do not call it a self-publisher because that’s not what it is at all – there is a huge difference. It was created because what I needed and wanted from a publisher did not exist in any form.
In a world with all this super-fabulous technology, you would think there would be many arts labs where ideas in the arts and communications field could go through scientifically constructed tests and be incubated until they were ready to take new forms.
For whatever reason, I am still the one and only game in town, and though I am my own test subject, I have developed my writing in a way I did not imagine I’d take it.
If I went by route of the traditional publisher, I would have never reached my potential. Period. I would have been stunted and discouraged from taking risks and pushing my limits.
But the same could be said if I just went the self-publishing route, too, because there is nothing in self-publishing that inherently stimulates innovative thought.
When I finished the manuscript The World’s Most Dangerous Woman, I had originally opted for a traditional publishing route as I did before. I had three close calls getting it published that way, but each time, something really did not sit well with me and I didn’t play nice. Usually, an author is just so grateful to get any offer that he will cave in without fuss just to get that book out no matter of the long-term consequences. Authors, by the very nature of the business, do not think about tomorrow and it shows, though it is ironic in a field where people want their work to live long after they cease to themselves.
The first brush infuriated me: apparently, according the publisher’s interested reply, Miss Lyme was not dangerous because she was not promiscuous, never mind the world’s most powerful people could lose it all in a heartbeat if she confronted them wearing her red dress. She retrieved a stolen nuclear warhead. She stopped a secret hostage-taking incident in the White House. She thwarted coups, wars, and illegal smuggling rings as she exposed the wicked who had armies and governments protecting them.
Why do we imagine that the only power that counts for a woman is sexual power? Miss Lyme is beautiful, but she doesn’t need anyone to validate that obvious fact for her with a roll in the hay, nor does she need to put out to get information from cagey players as she has her own network of operatives doing it in ingenious ways.
The second brush was much closer, but I think it was The One that got me planning to do something else. Miss Lyme’s idiosyncratic ways were heartily welcomed and it looked like the publisher and I were on the same page – until the story about Miss Lyme as a teenager flashed on the publisher’s screen: apparently, Miss Lyme was too confident a visionary back then and she should have been some timid girl who was bullied as a kid and then should have been tricked into joining the Circle in the Sky at university.
Why do we imagine that young girls cannot be confident visionaries and explorers who are out to rock the world? Miss Lyme is not perfect, but a young heart roars with optimism and idealism as it looks forward to creating a better future; so why shouldn’t she be smart, ambitious, and daring as a teen? Comic books have Robin, Superboy, Kid Flash, Aqua Lad, Supergirl, Wonder Girl and a whole slew of teens with confidence, but we can’t afford the same courtesy in book form?
The third brush came when the publisher liked the book – but there would be no advance, I had to devise the entire marketing campaign out of my own pocket, and I had to design my own cover. This was all even before the time where reading fees for a publisher merely looking at an author’s work was not commonplace yet.
Yes, this was a legitimate publisher and not a self-publisher: apparently, an author expecting a publisher to lift a finger to take some of the mutual risk and burden was completely unrealistic.
Why do we imagine that the author has to pay to work and get absolutely no support by the publisher who is supposed to have the expertise the content-provider does not?
By then, I was ready and eager to do it on my own – as in completely on my own. No one would do my covers but me. I would do all the writing, marketing, editing, promoting, and just about everything else in the beginning (if you look at the book credits now, editing is now in the hands of Andrea Sierer).
As I got ready to launch my first book, a thought came over me: I didn’t have to stop at telling Miss Lyme’s stories: I could include other inter-related stories to make a quilt of other kinds of people who had their own stories to tell. Phil Lipton and Marigold Wesley were Miss Lyme’s operatives, but they were strong enough to headline their own series. Miss Lyme was inspired by the musings of Miss Alena Love and the stories of Miss Holly Lake – and though those two women lived in different eras, there was no reason why they could not have their own stories to share.
Suddenly, I had a vision of what I wanted to do.
And then all sorts of other characters arrived. It was exciting.
And it would never be boring. Not only would I have my creative juices flowing making more stories, my innovative juices would also flow as I figured out how to create a publishing structure that was good for authors as well: one where the writer was not getting abused or exploited. One where an author could make a real living as a writer.
I went beyond publishing to include other arts as well and what was once briefly called A Dangerous Woman Press turned into A Dangerous Woman Story Studio.
I am not rushing myself at this stage, but I am pushing because there are so many possibilities that I am exploring. Breaking the confines and shackles that weigh authors down is my big priority – because the best stories are the ones that come unleashed from the very centre of a storyteller’s roaring heart.