Hi everyone. For those who don't know me, my name is K. Leigh. I'm a bi trans dude, indie author, ex-freelancer and forever artist. I might just be trying to take over the literary landscape for very good reasons.
Last year, I released 3 books in a surreal LGBT+ sci-fi trilogy and wrote another book that's currently being workshopped. I have plans to create 7 more in the CONSTELIS VOSS series and after that, the sky's the limit. But in order to do all of that, I have to start breaking the rules.
So, what are my very good reasons for hauling ass to punch through publishing's lavender ceiling, my way?
It starts simple: I didn't see anyone making work like this while writing it. I've since made likeminded author-friends, but we're all a rare type of artist writing a rare type of fiction. A rare type of fiction publishing rarely picks up, because it has goals bigger than sales.
Let's get a bit complex:
What are the goals of CONSTELIS VOSS?
And why do they matter?
CONSTELIS VOSS does conceptual heavy-lifting: It's meant to be read many different ways and carry vital cultural, social and literary messages. My subject matter expertise ranges from education to technology and loops back to the humanities. I'm not an indie author writing for fun, I'm an indie author writing to solve some problems.
If you ever wonder—while reading the series—if something was deliberate, it was. And in many different ways, at that. It's also wild good fun, with a cast of lovable, diverse characters who ultimately end up saving their world. I aim to give earnest, messy heroes to those who have so few.
Finally, it's work I made to tell a story about my life. More specifically, it's about my time in hell. Healthy, repentant and free, I got to look back on that journey many years later. The lack of empathy for my fall was sobering, to say the least.
So I wrote that story—with empathy this time around—plus the story of someone I love who shares my plight. I write books for an Us none of you know. They know and I hope it heals them. I hope it heals you too. That's a noble creative goal, I like to think.
Keep in mind, the CONSTELIS VOSS trilogy isn't perfect.
There's a lot I needed a more seasoned editor for, and I'm planning on doing a Director's Cut for that reason. But it's exactly what it needs to be: smart, queer, complex, funny and brutally authentic.
I'm here to make FLUXUS-inspired, healing, counter-culture fiction that's wildly accessible, all to reach as many people as humanly possible.
Pretty fucking radical, huh?
What's my indie author journey been like?
Lord, do I have motherfucking stories
There are many pitfalls I've faced in the past year or so of trying to get CONSTELIS VOSS out. The first is the obvious: COVID happened and the entire world went mad. Marketing an indie sci-fi series for Thinkers™ during a pandemic was not an ideal play—let me just say.
Not only that, but with current events looming, writing something problematic (for good reason) isn't really what marginalized folx want. But I do think it's something they need. Social reality blows and the sooner we all figure out we're not at war with each other, the better.
Moreover, I didn't have the right crew helping me my first year. Let's just say that I hauled more ass than I ever should've had to.
Now, I have good help, and I'm finally on a path that feels like we can all climb a mountain, together. Furthermore, I feel like the people working with me want to do that, which is important.
To me, CONSTELIS VOSS is bigger than the sum of its parts.
Every writer says that, but what I'm saying is I know what I can do, and it's bigger than books.
I firmly believe my work has the potential to create a fandom. Not only that, but I believe it has the potential to do what so many other written-to-market works can't: Be an authentic weapon of high-art and big fun.
Couple all the poor timing—and my own lofty goals—with horrid platforms most indies are forced to use, and it's easy to see that year one was a huge struggle. Despite the success of nearly 10k books in hands. Yet I'm still here, trying my best with limited spoons, because the outcomes matter.
I want to help reshape a narrative landscape and will stop at nothing until then.
What are my plans for world domination?
And why am I hauling ass this hard and fast?
At this point in the game, I know that a certain path will lead to success—if I do it right. A success that I will leverage in positive ways for indie authors like me. I sign that in blood, by the way.
The first step (which we've just done) is going wide. Going wide means ripping CONSTELIS VOSS out of its Amazon KDP shackles (KDP stops you from selling eBooks elsewhere, but reach is diminished if you opt-out).
It also means blasting CONSTELIS VOSS eBooks on every available outlet, but most importantly, my home-base store.
The next step is getting more books out there. There are 7 total backstories planned, each a standalone, but integral to the whole work. I have INDIGO VOSS in process. It needs a good editor and formatter, and then we ride.
Then, I need to take the other character backstories from my head into the written world. Which, now that I have a solid pipeline and good help, will be easier.
The step after this one is a bit nebulous. I haven't yet decided if I'll shop-out the solo-stories to see if traditional publishing bites. They're easier to market as singularly-focused works.
It's likely I'll go full-solo indie again for a very good reason. I'm not personally convinced traditional publishing is ready for me, yet I'm willing to try.
The next landmark is to hopefully (cross your fingers) pull all the work home for good and act as a solo-creative.
No middlemen, just you, me, and some good artsy fiction books.
Finally, the inevitable goal—one I know I can reach with your support—is to branch out into different mediums. This roadmap is long-term. I have roughly 4-5 years to play with as a solo-creative at full speed. I'm also using everything I've got to make that privilege count.
In the end, my gigantic plans are tethered to a fixed value system. There exists no world where I won't help others if (and during) my conquering of a creative mountain.
That's a fucking promise.
This is my plan, who I am and what I want
You are the missing piece I need
If you've gotten this far, it probably means you're like me: a rebel, a creative, a tinkerer, a dreamer. It also might mean you believe in my vision, or at the very least, you think art can be a weapon for good. Not just for entertainment.
At the very least, I hope you're the type to trust that I'm dedicated to creating positive outcomes with my (often challenging) work.
If any of this rings true, I write stories for people just like you: messy heroes who survive and thrive thanks to unconditional love and immutable drive.
If this resonates, let me ask you for a favor: If you're not already on it, sign up for the CONSTELIS VOSS mailing list.
If you're already on it, buy something from an artist who thinks the world is still capable of change and wants to do good with art.
Share this article if you believe. Share it if you want to see something smart, funny—very queer—and meaningful on the screen. Share it if you think art can make a difference, if you do it right.
These are the favors I ask. Some require more faith, but let me just say: There's no risk betting on a sure thing. I will not give up on this dream for as long as I still have the time to.
And I'll give everything I have to make it happen.
You're still here? That's fantastic!
Maybe we work can together?
I've spent all this time writing about my ideals, plans and goals. Pretty annoying, huh? Maybe. But I think it's important you understand what kind of person I am, so you can know what kind of books I write, and whether to care or not.
If you've made it this far, however, I think maybe something else is in order.
Send me an email and let's break the rules, together.
Tell me everything. I can't promise I'm in the position to help you up your mountain right now, but I can promise I'll try my best.
— K. Leigh