Hello again from Home!
“We’re self published”.
Why do I still cringe inwardly whenever I speak those words or whenever someone asks me why Josh and I chose that route? No amount of praise seems to take away that feeling for me.
Ask me about the story of Warpworld, the characters, the plot, the themes, the world building, and I will gush, unabashedly. Not every reader will like this book, some will hate it, but I know it’s good and I’m proud of it, and of us. But that pride vanishes at the mention of self publishing. I am seized by an urgent need to explain. I hurry to make it clear that the manuscript was good enough for a Canadian agent, and loved by a prestigious NYC agency, (who tried like heck to get it sold). The rejection letters from publishers, I will add, were all very complimentary. I seek to make our decision to strike out on our own legitimate.
Despite all the massive changes to the publishing industry in the past few years, there remains a stigma attached to those authors who choose to publish their own work. When a bestselling tradtionally published author, such as Barry Eisler (though he would call it legacy publishing, not traditional), decides to go indie, that’s one thing. After all, he’s already proven that his work is good enough for “real” publishing. When Joe Unknown does the same thing, there’s an unspoken sense that the author’s work must somehow be sub-standard.
This leads me to my second point.
It’s too easy
Pretty much anyone can publish a book now and, from the numbers, pretty much anyone has. When Josh first suggested indie e-publishing, I jumped online and started reading…and was horrified. How could people call these collections of grammatical garbage ‘novels’? I have since found gold among the garbage, but that doesn’t change facts. There is a mountain of low (no) quality ebooks out there reinforcing the stereotype of self published novels as crap. Awesome.
We resist change
More and more authors are braving the stigma and taking control of their writing careers by self publishing. These are people who, like Josh and myself, refuse to give up just because a handful of people either didn’t like their work or didn’t feel it would sell. There are also authors who feel that if they’re going to be doing almost all of the marketing themselves, they might as well keep most of the profits, (scarce as they). Additionally, more and more readers are taking a chance on self-published authors and discovering ‘talent’ and ‘independent’ aren’t mutually exclusive. But The System is slower to accept or integrate these changes.
In my marketing research, I’ve come across several venues that close their doors, firmly, to self published authors and their work. Sometimes this is for legitimate reasons (librarians could not possibly read and vet all the self-pubbed books sent their way), other times it’s clearly snobbery (as I suspect is the case with the author PR company that attached a large notice on their website announcing that self-published authors need not bother querying about their services).
What’s the answer?
We’re in the middle of a paradigm shift in the publishing realm. I suspect there will be a lot of panic, on both sides, until things settle and a new model emerges. Some will rant and rave, some will sling mud, some will predict the collapse of modern civilization as we know it.
Through all this chaos, writers will keep writing and readers will keep reading. Heros will be cheered, villains will be boo’d, tears will be shed and empathy engaged, movies will be made that will not be as good as the books they’re based on, pages will be dog-eared (or whatever the electronic equivalent is), and children will still dream of the worlds that books allow them to visit.
No matter how our stories are delivered to those that love them, it is our hard work and passion for the craft that should make us writers proud – not the logo on the spine of our book.
I am a self published author.
There, I said it.
Until next time, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!