I’m a Black man, an African-American, if you will. I’m 47 years old, a married father of two. I’m heterosexual. I graduated from a HBCU (that’s historically black college for those of you scratching your head), I got a MA from East Carolina which is not in one of the power 5 conferences. It was a total of six years from the end of my high school year to the year I graduated from college. I’m an independent publisher (indie author, self publisher for those of you scratching your head) I pledged the alumni chapter of my college fraternity. I’m right-headed and extremely near-sighted. I should mention I’m a dark-complected black man. I’m an American, born and raised in North Carolina. These are just some of the things that define/describe me. Why am I mentioning these things. Well, at some point in my life either I or someone I was extremely close to was discriminated against or treated differently for being or not being one of these things. It’s maddening when you think about it. Why are we so obsessed in trying to prove someone else is not as worthy as us. It’s crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge that there are valid reasons to dislike someone: they’re mean or disrespectful to you. They’ve tried to harm you or yours. They steal from you, etc., But if someone hasn’t done anything to you, other than exist while you’re existing, I don’t get hating them for that. Yeah, their sexual orientation is different from yours. So what? Their gender is different. So what? Their race is different. So What? Their nationality, religion, eye color, school choice, all different. So what? So what? So what? It’s time to end the hate. End the discrimination. Will this post do it. No, I’m not naive. But it’s a start.
I guess I’m a glutton for punishment since I once again gave Publisher’s Weekly an opportunity to review my work and PW once again slammed it. As readers of this blog may recall, PW slammed my novel Fathers House because I described an 11 y.o. urban male as being a prodigy. PW said it ruined the concept of a ‘thriller’ story for them. Okay, whatever. Anyway, my latest novel, is a supernatural thriller, an urban fantasy if you will. Here’s PW’s review in its entirety:
Mingling banal dialogue and armchair philosophy, Baldwin attempts to capture the essence of intrigue in this contemporary urban fantasy with new-adult leanings. Kallie Hunt has just settled back into a routine at Bengate College after the death of her mother, but strange instances of déjà vu continue to interrupt her peace of mind. A series of somewhat contrived chance meetings paves the way for an epic journey, spanning years and several U.S. cities—as well as the mind—and challenging the fabric of religious belief and the basis of human history. The characters, whose actions and emotions are flatly described, have a two-dimensional feel that detracts from an otherwise fascinating plot. The intertwining of nondenominational religious superiority with the American “war on terror” raises philosophical questions that are neither easily nor satisfactorily addressed.
Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate PW’s claim that I attempted to raise philosophical questions in my little tale which includes demons and a Buffy The Vampire type character. And that I challenged the fabric of religious belief and the basis of human history. But really, seriously, I was writing a story about demons. It’s an urban fantasy! I even call it an urban fantasy on the cover. Why is PW slamming me for not answering its philosophical questions? Of course to be fair, they did also say my characters were two -dimensional, which they felt distracted from an otherwise, fascinating plot. So evidently they liked something about my little tale. I’m just sorry that I’m not their idea of Socrates. But then again, I never set out to be.
I attended my first Wizard World Comic Con this past weekend and in a word, wow!. When I signed up for Wizard World Raleigh I had no idea what to expect. I was anxiously looking forward to it of course, but I didn’t know how I would be accepted. I’m an author with exactly one book under my belt, a crime thriller no less and my sophomore book, although an urban fantasy book (which I thought might generate some interest with the graphic novel crowd), is not hitting the streets until June.) How could I, C. Edward Baldwin, an unknown in the Wizard World community, compete with the David Tennants and William Shatners of the world. Well, I got to tell you, just fine thank you very much. Now don’t get wrong, there were many people who attended the Con in Raleigh that still have no idea who C. Edward Baldwin is. But the people who stopped by my booth or even smiled nicely at me while scurrying on by it, made me feel as welcomed as a ham sandwich at an ant mound. They were polite, pleasant, and good-natured. I really don’t have the words to describe how good they made me feel. A good deal of them waited patiently as I pitched my book or played the trailer for it. If it sounded like something they were interested in, they either bought the book or e-card on the spot or promised to explore the book further later. Many of these folk would come back later in the day and buy the book. If it wasn’t their thing, they thanked me kindly nonetheless and moved on. Either way, everyone made me feel absolutely welcomed. So, this post is just about saying to the Wizard World Community….THANK YOU! I really enjoyed myself and am looking forward to more Wizard World Cons.
This is an exciting time to be a writer!. No, it’s not the self-publishing golden days of the recent past. 2010 where hath thy gone? No, it’s 2015. At this juncture, indie-publishing has settled into its true self. The new normal has arrived and will be here awhile. In other words, indie-published writers as do writers of any ilk, have work to do, namely write. But unlike, traditional published writers, indie-writers’ workloads are a lot heavier, because indie-writers have to also indie-publish. It’s the publish part that scares or confuses a lot of indie-writers. Why that is, I don’t know. Just what exactly were they signing up for. Writing has never been an easy gig and by extension never was publishing. In the past anyone entering these endeavors understood and accepted the risks. And the people that didn’t, well they weren’t cut out for it anyway. But when Amazon rolled in, a lot of people threw caution to the wind and jumped in with both feet with their eyes wide-opened. Now that the dust has settled, those very people are saying WTF!. And the system is now correcting itself in many ways. Writing is hard. Publishing is even harder!. The big guys have always known that. They thought you did too, until recently. But now the big boys are seeing a lot of the indie-pubs running to them for comfort and forgiveness and the big boys are pleased. The agents are even more pleased. And the agents have a right to be because the big boys won’t even talk to any writer who hasn’t first gotten the sacred blessing of an agent. Glory be and land sakes alive! The good ole days are back, baby!
But are they really? No. The genie has been let out of the bottle and no matter what the big five pubs or their henchman agents think, that genie can no longer fit the bottle, and thus will be forever free. Why? Because some of us have learned a truth. It’s a truth that the big five pubs and agents have always known. Bestselling authors have known it too; but for whatever reason decided not to make too much of it. What is that truth? Lean in and read closely: the big boys, the agents, the publicists, or any other so called expert, none of them, nary a one of them, has any clue what book the public will collectively buy. They never know, until gasp, the collective public, buys it. It’s for real. I wouldn’t lie to you. Oh, the big boys can splash a lot of money on any particular book, i,e book tours, tv/radio show appearances, splashy full colored magazine ads, whatever and the big-time professional reviewers (i.e Booklist, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, etc.) can heap huge amounts of praise on it (sending various librarians swooning), but until the public weighs in with good ole legal tender in hand, no one will know if it likes the book or not. That’s the truth. And now that the genie is out of the bottle, indie-publishers can do what the big boys have always done, put the work out there and let the public have its say. If they like it, they’re let you know. They’ll buy it and heap praise upon it. It’s how it’s always been. And that’s what the big boys didn’t want you to know.