THE GODFATHER OF POLISH SELF-PUBLISHING
Die in the Rain, the debut of Alexander Sowa, was first published in 2006. It was the first Polish novel, which, after a previous paper publication, entered the electronic world of the Amazon Kindle Store. The first Polish novel published by an independent author, with an independent footing, without the participation of publishing houses and based entirely on broadly understood self-publication rules.
14 years have passed since 2006. Aleksander Sowa, an ambitious boy from Paczków in Opole, became a well-known author of crime and moral novels, collections of short stories and guidebooks. A group of self-publishers and freelancers around the country are using his # SELF-PUBLISHING BIBLE , and publications of the criminal "astronomical series" break records of popularity among readers and literary portals.
Alexander Sowa. Skydiver. Glider pilot. Police Officer. Multiple juror. Publisher. Distributor. A precursor of self-publishing. Writer. A man of many faces in an interview with the Fourth Son Platform.
© Maciej Zienkiewicz Photography
FS: Crime themes are closest to your heart. Is it because of your profession or passion for studying human stories, behavior and the dark side of your personality?
AS: I must admit that the profession of policeman often requires contact with the dark side of human personality. Getting into the minds of bad people is fascinating, but not my passion. I also try to separate service and writing. I treat writing as a rest from human stories, dramas and this very dark side of the personality. Evil that you saw with your own eyes is completely different from what you see in books. It is not easy to forget about him.
FS: Where did the idea / idea to write the whole astronomical series come from? Was the creation of the cycle the original intention or were the books created independently, eventually creating a criminal family?
AS: The astronomical series was born quite unusual. In 2010, I published my first crime novel in which I brought to life my hero, policeman Emil Stompor. It was the " Age of Aquarius " . I came across the idea of writing it around 2009 in Opole on a city bus. I was not happy with the first edition and two years later I reissued it, this time alone, in a new, improved edition. There have been positive reviews. It turned out that there was potential in it, and the readers liked my hero, so after a few years I decided to write a continuation. And this is how the " Aries Point " was created. And then I decided that the third part would also be created: " Orion Stars " . That's when I decided to create a series. It was "Orion Stars" that turned out to be a breakthrough. I published it at LIRA. The book in the plebiscite of the literary portal Granice.pl was selected "The best crime story for summer 2019" and "The best book for summer 2019". Then also "The Best Crime Detective of 2019". At that time I was already writing the fourth part of the astronomical series with Emil Stompor entitled " Czas Libra ", which was published by LIRA at the time when Covid-19 attacked us all for good. I assure you that this is not the end yet.
FS: There is a lot of humility in you for your own success and uncertainty about the readers' acceptance of subsequent publications. You are like a neighbor who has succeeded in success. Where and where lies the secret of balance between being an icon of the world of selfpublishing and simple modesty?
AS: I think calling me an icon of the world of self-publishing is an exaggeration. Success is also a big word. I think a little exaggerated. Yes, it just so happened that about twenty years ago I began to experiment with the possibilities that he created then for writers developing internet and I was one of the first, but it just happened. There is no achievement in this. There were several other authors besides me. Today, hardly anyone of them publishes, and I do. And that's probably the point. I have not given up, despite the difficult path. It's true, I'm never sure how readers will pick up my next book. When I finish writing, I have the impression that it could have been done better and I am trying to write better. I am glad that readers reach for my books and I can do what I like. The fact that I got involved with the LIRA publishing house allows me to focus more on writing. It's a convenience for me. I have more time to focus on writing, and not all this ... rest.
FS: Your entire writing path is strongly marked by clinical systematics and determination. Are these character traits or the developed work system of the writer and publisher?
AS: Regularity in my creative process is the basis. I try to write every day and stay away from writing for more than two or three days. Determination is also needed in writing. The way of the author, writer and probably also music, painter or graphic artist is rarely a continuous success story. This is also the case in many other areas of life. Regularity is not in my nature and has been worked out. Unlike determination, because this is my character trait. Despite the difficulties, I finish what I started.
FS: You have been called a graphomancer many times, and your books misfires and creases. You usually received this title from traditionally published authors and from bloggers receiving publishing gifts. You are now on their side of the barricade. How have the opinions of these haters changed? And do you think all this hate comes from a misunderstanding of the essence of selfpublishing or is parietal Poland stuck with one foot in the belief that publications of this type are inadequately weak and worth less?
AS: My books have met with unfavorable opinions, often because they were not published on the traditional publishing path. It should be said, however, that the works of independent authors are unfortunately often poorly published. And underdeveloped. It affects the phenomenon. I also made this mistake. Initially, I did not pay much attention to good editorial staff, then I had problems finding a good editor. Fortunately, I gained experience. It is a pity that I learned from my own mistakes. Fifteen years ago I was a different author, but the world also looked different. Self-publishing is complex and heterogeneous. Often misunderstood properly. Negative opinions are born from this. The fact is that the vast majority of self-published publications have been rejected by traditional publishers and are weaker, or they are simply creases. However, it must be admitted that there is a certain percentage of good, valuable works in this group. Self-publishing makes them stand a chance. And this is the biggest advantage of this phenomenon.
FS: "My latest novel is here. I feel calm, satisfaction and I'm glad that I decided to cooperate with the publisher. I'm glad that I didn't have to publish the books myself, "you write on your blog. Does this mean that after the path of self-publishing, which is not always strewn with roses, are you tired and ready to rest in the bosom of publishing? Or did you rather want to cut off the head of malicious self-issue critique with paper-based publication?
AS: A few years ago I felt that I couldn't achieve much more in this coordinate system (work, distribution possibilities, etc.) and I am tired of spending it myself. I admit that I was irritated by the repeated accusation that if I wrote good enough books I wouldn't have to publish them myself. Being connected to a traditional publisher helped solve these problems. In addition, I gained a group of professionals who make my books better, reach readers more easily and do not have to deal with their advertising / sales / distribution / promotion. It all means that I can focus on what is most important. And the most important thing is to write.
FS: "Self-publishing gives freedom, but it also takes away, taking time and attention," you honestly state in another post. I wonder how - having already had a baggage of experience from almost two decades - you will refer this simple sentence to authors who follow the path of self-publishing. They write, self promote with hope for success. Is there a risk of writer's self-ignition in the process? Is this a way only for persistent, determined and resistant to criticism?
AS: There are many threats in self-publishing. It's just a seemingly easier publishing path. If it were otherwise, most authors would choose the one that would seem easier, giving more freedom and a more lucrative path of independence, right? Meanwhile, it's different. Self-publishing is good for conscious authors, preferably with experience and a target group (e.g. youtubers, vloggers). Perseverance and determination is always needed, but much more independently than on the traditional publishing path. As for the criticism, you have to learn to resist it. Draw conclusions and fix errors.
FS: Now, when you became the author published in a traditional, paper way, do you not collide with the unwillingness of self-publishers? Paradoxes rule the world, and people change emotions.
AS: I have not come across such a phenomenon. Maybe also because I try not to participate in the "life" of self-publishers. I do not participate in forums, and I limit my activity in social media to promotional activities. Many creators (not only literature) waste talent and lose time for meaningless, sterile online discussions. The writer should write, write and read. And then improve. I don't care what other artists think about me. I don't create for them. I create for the reader. My connection with the LIRA Publishing House meant that the reader gained better, more refined and better published books, and I had time to write.
FS: What are your plans for the coming years? With more time to write, you will concentrate on it, or do you keep an ace up your sleeve from another shelf of aspirations and ambitions?
AS: I focus on writing. I plan two or maybe three parts of the astronomical series before presenting something completely new to the reader. What matters to me today is to give readers the maximum dose, the highest quality entertainment possible. I want to write and publish just as good books as "Orion's Stars" and "Libra Time." I am also seriously considering withdrawing some of the previously released self-titles by the end of the next year.
FS: You mentioned working on a new book. Will you reveal any details?
AS: By the end of August I would like to finish the fifth part of the astronomical series with Emil Stompor so that the book could be published at the end of the year. The most likely title is "Venus Dies". It will be a criminal story very much inspired by the mysterious and unexplained murder of two students on the trail in the Table Mountains. Of course, the book will contain many other surprising threads.
© Maciej Zienkiewicz Photography
In his work he focuses on borderline situations and reaches for various genres and conventions. All of his crime novels are inspired by real events. They are distinguished by detailed descriptions, based on dialogues, striking realism and authenticity. Their language is masculine, often rough and even vulgar.
Finally, language is a measure of the credibility of Owl's detective stories. Colloquial, juicy, lively. Full of vulgarism when needed. Containing elements of slang . Granice.pl on "Weight time".
Aleksander Sowa is not gentle with readers. He is the author who describes the murder in a cool and detailed way while using the flagship investigations of serial killers of the PRL - ZbrodniawBibliotece on "Orion Stars".