I wrote an article about a year ago about my strategy for becoming a published writer. A year later, as I’ve learned about the writing industry, I have to say that I’m still committed to that same strategy.
My first completed novel, CHASING AFTER VANITY, remains unpublished and in the slush pile. I’ve only sent it out to about a dozen agencies, with no love. After these rejections, I decided I need to do some revisions. My intent is still to get VANITY published through the traditional way. As much as I look forward to self publishing some of my writing, I still dream of clearing all the hurdles and getting my book published by a traditional publisher. After all, it’s this industry that I aspired to conquer since first deciding that I wanted to write so long ago.
So now with VANITY simmering on the back burner, I started working on my fantasy novel SHADOWS AND BONES. Shortly after diving in, I decided there was another tale that I needed to tell first, something of a prelude to the larger story that S&B was kicking off. So, just over four months later THE PRINCE OF GRAVES, a novella, is undergoing final editing and should be self published at the end of the month or early February.
As I mentioned, I’ve learned quite a bit about both the traditional and self publishing worlds (although I readily admit I have plenty left to learn). And one of the things I’ve noticed is that there are roughly three schools of thought when it comes to self publishing: “I love it”, “I hate it”, and “What is it exactly?” The first two groups have staked out their territory, and I don’t have the experience to try and sway either one way or the other. But I thought it might be nice for other writers who are new to spell out why I’ve jumped in to the self publishing pool.
Let’s face it: self publishing has some well deserved criticisms. It’s a world, often described as the Wild West, where there are no real quality controls. So while self publishing offers talented writers a commercial outlet that has never before existed, it also offers not-so-talented (or maybe just not ready) writers the same market. So there’s bound to be some wheat but a lot more tares. I’ve read a decent amount of indie/self published works over the past year and half and yeah, there are a lot of weak novels. So why should a good writer self publish?
The hard reality is that there are two forces out there that can discourage talented aspiring writers who are looking to make it with traditional publishing: the new realities of a digital world are crippling traditional publishers and, related to this, the gateways to publishing – the agents – are so overwhelmed with submissions that it may be quite a while before the stars align and one gives your work the time it needs to really consider it. Two of my rejection email came with apologies that the response was an automated response, which they had to bring on line because the volume of submissions was soaring beyond their abilities to even say “no thank you” to me.
With this in mind, I decided to bypass traditional publishing altogether with my fantasy novels. I believe I have a degree of talent, and stories to tell. I have also been encouraged by the fact that I have read some amazing self published books recently. These credible writers had their own reasons for going the self pub route, and being an inferior artist was not one of them.
I fully recognize the stigma that many associate with this. I’ve read some pretty harsh comments from established authors and aspiring writers along the lines of “if they’re doing that, then that means they weren’t good enough to be published the right way.” Now, while there may very well be an element of truth to that for some would-be writers, that kind of blanket statement is, frankly, ignorant at best. When you delve into the independent writer community you can see that, while there are writers churning out low quality yarns who seem completely oblivious of the need for an editor, there are also those who are so passionate about writing that they simply refuse to wait to be noticed by an aging and overwhelmed industry.
That’s where I fall. I think I have stories to tell, and while I do want to one day be published, I’m not going to wait. The onus is on me to prove to skeptical readers that my writings are worth their time (and money). If I’m deluding myself, then the reviews will show it. But if my confidence is well placed, and my stories bring any enjoyment at all to readers that I’ve never met, then self publishing will have helped this writer fulfill a lifelong dream.