real artists ship

I have been doing a lot of thinking about the creative process in regards to publishing one’s work. Over the weekend I went to Emerald City Comic Con. It was both enormous and fascinating and I walked away learning a lot. It’s amazing to see what is out there and what people love and loathe and how passionate fans can be about a particular title.

In discussion about the con with my best friend I dredged up an old adage attributed to Steve Jobs that I always like to quote whenever I get on my soapbox:

Real artists ship.

Ouch. Kinda brutal isn’t it? No one likes to be told what they aren’t doing isn’t “real.” For some it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but as important as your work is delivery is just as important. Putting you work somewhere where it can be consumed by others is how you make it in this business, it’s the thing that separates the real artists from the hobbyists. What was Heinlein’s 4th rule again? Oh yeah, “You must put the work on the market.”

I’m now over halfway into my final edit on “The Stars Were Right” and not long before I begin the page layout process. Only a few months from self-publishing my first novel. (Eeep!) Looking back at what it took to get me here is kinda eye opening. I wrote two complete manuscripts before “The Stars Were Right,” and three or four half manuscripts, but I never shipped them. I never delivered. In a few months that’s going to change.

Is it scary? Hell yes, it’s terrifying, but as Rumi said:

Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation.
Be notorious.

We live in amazing times. Never before has it been so easy for content creators in any medium to get their work in front of an audience. Distribution platforms abound: Kindle, iOS App Store, WordPress, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, and Twitter. Those platforms are full of potential fans eager to dive into whatever quality product you deliver.

On my Twitter bio (and at the top of this blog) I refer to myself as an “aspiring novelist” – and I am and I will continue to be “aspiring” until that manuscript becomes a novel and readers are able to download it. I believe in what Steve Jobs said: real artists ship, and damn it, I’m going to ship.

(The image associated with this posts comes from Andrew Power. Check out the full sized version here or suport the artist and buy a print here.)


    1. I completely understand if the work is not ready. The important thing is to be ready and willing to release when you know the work is finished. You’ll know when you get there. :)


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