I’ve wanted to be a published author my whole life. It wasn’t just writing I wanted to do. I wanted my name on a hardcover book, copies in all the big book stores, and tons of readers. By the time I was really ready to publish a book, the publishing industry changed. The odds of seeing my name on a hardcover book dropped to nil and my books in a book store? Well, what book stores?
But that was okay, I could adjust the dream. I wanted an agent and a traditional publishing deal. I wanted someone on the other side of the gate to validate me as a writer. And I came pretty darn close. An editor of a small publishing house loved Welcome to Kata-Tartaroo. She said she’d never seen anything like it before. Finally, I found success. Not. She fell off the face of the earth for a year. She ignored my emails wondering when we’d get started with our process then one year later she wanted to know if my book was still available. Really? I wanted to say. Where have you been all this time?
The book wasn’t available. After much deliberation and some advice from a successful friend in the industry, Jen Talty, (Check her out. You’ll love her books) I decided to self-publish.
I hate that term. Self-Publish. I didn’t do it by myself. I hired a professional editor. Someone who worked in the traditional business for fifteen years before going off on her own. I hired a cover designer and my covers rock. They look better than many traditionally published books. I hired a formatter to set my books up for print and the E version. I never paid anyone to publish my books. A way for me to put my books out in the market had become available without the aid of an agent or an editor of a publishing house and I took advantage of it. It shouldn’t matter how I published, but it does and not just to me.
I spend a lot of time educating myself on the craft and business of writing. I follow Bob Mayer religiously (someone else you should check out. His books are great and he’s the expert in the industry on publishing. If you’re a writer reading this and you don’t follow Bob, start.) Bob says if you’re a new writer you should traditionally publish first then switch to self-publishing to become a hybrid author. (The term Bob coined.) I didn’t follow that advice, maybe I should have.
As a self-published author (instead of self-published how about avant-garde publisher?) there are things in the industry not available to me. Writing organizations won’t allow me to call myself an author because I’m not with a publisher on their list. I can’t get reviews from the elite review organizations unless I pay for them. And today I found out an event I attended last year isn’t open to me this year because they went and changed the parameters to traditionally published only. Which really made me mad.
I know why they do it. Anyone can self-publish. (Let’s say that’s different than what I did. Remember, our new term, avant-garde publisher.) Anyone can write a book, slap their pen down and upload it to a publishing site and voila! Millions of people can now see your book. Many and I mean many of these writers don’t take the time to learn their craft. They wrote their first book and think it’s so fabulous it must be a best-seller. (I did too, but that isn’t the book I published. I learned why it shouldn’t be published.) Now, don’t get me wrong, some people do publish their first book ever written, but if it isn’t at the insistence of an editor, I might hesitate.
Maybe these self-pubbed authors even hired an editor like I did, but they really don’t know the craft well enough and they still publish too soon. I’ve met a lot of these people. I meet a lot of writers many of them self-published. I check out their work just to see if I’m wrong and I’m usually not. They make all the amateur mistakes new writers make and then they go ahead and publish anyway. Because they can. And that makes it bad for writers like me.
What makes me an expert on how to write? Twelve years of attending workshops, conferences, and seminars. Writing six books. Learning from my critique partners. Teaching creative writing to others. So, I recognize right away when an author decides we needed to know all the backstory on the first ten pages before the story even begins because the author thinks the reader won’t understand what’s happening. Amateur mistake. And good Lord, it’s made a lot.
Quite honestly, I don’t want to be in that group with those writers. I don’t want to be alongside the writers who don’t know how to write, (like the author who wanted to write a romance novel about a married couple who were in love. And showed me the description for the back cover copy. What??? I wanted to say. Have you even read a romance???) but put a book out there because they could. So, yes, I’m a self-publishing snob.
I hate when people ask me who my publisher is because I don’t want to tell them. My writer friends tell me not to worry. Everyone is self-publishing now. Yes, authors who were with a traditional house are switching over because you have total control of your books, your brand, the price you charge and the design on your covers. You also make more money on each book. The same goes for me so that’s the up side and a strong one at that. Plus, traditional and self-pubbed have to do the same amount of marketing themselves, unless you’re Stephen King, so why traditionally publish at all?
To swim with the big kids. Just once.
Maybe if my sales were sky-rocketing I wouldn’t care about my
self avant-garde published persona. Who needs your stupid event, I could say. Sales have nothing to do with where the book is published. That’s all on me and way harder than I ever thought it would be to find readers.
Why do I need this traditional validation? I have readers who like my books. Book clubs making their woods into Kata-Tartaroo. Students doing book reports on my book. Another who drew me a picture of one of my characters. I know I’m a good writer, but it’s like being the only one not invited to the cool kids party. It hurts. It’s not the dream. And I’m left standing in the corner with the kids picking their noses. (Don’t yell at me. Not all first time self-pubbed authors are the kids picking their noses, but I promise you, there are more than you think and some of you don’t know who you are. Here’s a tissue.)
Do I give up? Maybe. Write another book? Doing that now. Traditionally publish? Some days yes. Some no. Avant-garde publish? Kind of like the ring to that.
I don’t know what the future holds. I hope there’s a spot with my name on another book. I hope I find more readers out there. Or maybe it’s time to take up the violin and put the writing thing away. Who knows. Not me.
Are you a snob about anything? How do you handle it? I’d love to hear from you.