Whiting native Brian Fence spent the better part of a year crafting his first novel, discovering the ins and outs of the publishing industry and getting his book to market.
Now comes the hard part:
His first book signing.
Though he’s been in front of crowds for poetry and short story events, his signing, at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Barnes and Noble in Brick, is the first time he’ll be putting himself out there in public with his book, Librarian, a mix of sci-fi, fantasy and politics.
“Other than just pure trepidation, I think I’m ready to meet everyone,” he said, laughing off the nerves.
It’s been an intense process for Fence, who started down the traditional publishing route, but ultimately decided to bypass the world of slush piles and agents who may or may not ever call you back, opting instead for a crash course in the publishing industry.
Getting to this point, where he’s making his first public appearance on his first book, while already 55,000 words into a draft of its sequel, makes it feel a bit like he’s a parent sending a kid off to college, Fence said.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” he said.
Going the self-publishing route doesn’t seem to have hurt him too much, though Fence acknowledged there are still negative associations with not being affiliated with a major publishing house.
Those factors, plus keeping a high profile online, have helped in the post-creative process, Fence said.
“There’s a huge stigma around self-publishing,” he said. “You just need to be out there and have a really good social presence.”
Though he relishes the creative control he has by going the self-publishing route, Fence said he wouldn’t necessarily run away, should a major house come calling at some point down the road.
At the same time, he knows it’s tough to make a living without finding success, which sometimes means going with a major name.
“It’s a really interesting dilemma,” he said. “Of course, that temptation would be there.”
In the meantime, he’s working on the trilogy started by Librarian, and has plans to launch an online literary magazine at some point next year, if all goes well.
Ultimately, Fence just wants what most people want—a shot at doing something he loves for a living.
“My dream is to write professionally and not do anything on the side,” he said. “At the end of the day, if someone appreciates my book, I’m happy. Now I just get nauseous because I have to write two more.”