Self Publishing Slam

I was twirling around the Facebook world the other day and saw a quote from an author I really respect. She took a really hard slam at independently publishing your book. All but calling those who put their work out there fake authors who could never get their work published in the real world. I admit the words stung (they were way nastier than my above paraphrasing). This isn’t just an author I respect, it is someone with whom I communicate with quite regularly. I wouldn’t say we were friends but close enough in this world of social media.

All of my old insecurities burst out of me like an erupting volcano. I am petrified of releasing my books on my own. Wondering openly with friends and family if I am dooming my chance to be a professional writer. Now someone in the industry was slamming my choice and, of course, in great Facebook fashion all of the comments below were piling on. It was a tense minute or two in my brain.

The decision to go it on my own has not been an easy one. I have been torn about it from day one. I used to work in bookstores, self published books were looked down upon. I know lots of authors who think self publishing a book is one short step away from masturbation. I also know there is a lot of crap out there and some of the feelings they express are not without merit.

Having said that, I admit that shortly after my initial moments of despair and panic anger set in. Anger over the self-righteousness of the comment. As if the publishing industry is the only arbitrator of the creation of words. Don’t get me wrong I think editors are important. I wish I could afford one but the truth is no one wants to look at my YA fantasy. Almost every rejection letter I have received has looked at no more than 5 pages and the few that actually looked at 50 pages sent me a real note on why the book wasn’t for them (no form letters).

I don’t know where I am as a writer. I try not to be delusional. I think I can strings words together fairly well. I don’t think what I am about to put out there is crap. I look at what I am doing now as trying to find a crack in the door. Looking for other ways to express my art and my words. If I was a musician no one would care that I was going the independent route. Are there a lot of independent musicians who put less than great music out there? Of course there are.

I have been told all my life I would never be able to make a living at writing. That I wasn’t good enough. It hurts to have people in the industry mocking my attempt at breaking through one more door. Maybe I put it out there and it becomes clear quickly I don’t have what it takes. Well, at least I will have tried. I will not have rolled over and let someone else control what has been a lifelong dream and pursuit.

So I am going to suck it up and move forward. I am not hoping for any miracles other than a few people liking what I wrote. Maybe enough of them will want to see the rest of the trilogy to make me feel like I have enough skill to keep moving forward. I love to write. It makes me feel whole. It makes the nerves in my fingertips tingle every time they touch a key. I don’t think what I wrote is crap but it is time for me to find out. Hopefully, my writer friends will respect me in the morning.

—-

Art by Ric Stultz

About csdaley

C.S. Daley was born in California but has spent most of his life in his imagination. His first short story written in third grade, the now classic "Close Encounters of the Turd Kind," was sold to his next door neighbor for a quarter. The neighbor promptly demanded a refund. An unhealthy obsession with the writings of Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore, and Terry Pratchett have left his mind warped and broken. He spends most of his evening swilling down coffee while tapping at a keyboard under the watchful eyes of his kittens. They are there to make sure he doesn't snap. He likes to write fantasy for adults and teens.

23 Responses to “Self Publishing Slam”

  1. Try to keep in mind that your friend’s opinion is just that — an opinion. Being a published writer doesn’t automatically make her an expert on the publishing industry. Such remarks usually come from defensiveness or ignorance. Whether you’ll succeed or not doesn’t always depend on how well you write, but unless you keep working at it you won’t have any chance at all. You seem to be very sensible about your attitude and approach, so don’t let a naysayer like that get you down.

    • I know but I would be lying if I didn’t say it hurt a little. For me it is about getting the work out there. Trying to crack open the door any way I can. So, that is what I will do. What’s life without a little danger and intrigue (I am aware that neither of those things actually apply but I had to let in some delusions somewhere).

  2. Stuff like that can hurt, but if the comment was a general one and not aimed at you specifically, then you need to work on thickening your skin. We all do, of course, and it’s even harder when we’re rejected, or a critique points out something that we should have seen for ourselves. It’s all about growth, taking risks, and grabbing a few non-destructive delusions to help keep us going.

    • I actually would have done much better if it had been at me. It was just the general tone of you are shit if someone won’t publish you which hit me at first. Then it just made me mad.

  3. I have noticed that certain industries where, once someone has managed to gain a foothold, they guard it jealously from anyone else intruding upon it. I know the world of stand-up comedy works that way, and it sounds like your author-friend feels the same way. I imagine she had to go through a long, hand-wringing period until she finally managed to break in, and I wonder if the idea of someone taking an “easier” route to get there is irksome to her.

    I’ve read enough horrible books published with extravagant fanfare and big-publisher backing to know that the industry seldom has a good method for choosing worthy work. Instead, it’s a “who-you-know” system that stifles creativity, aided and abetted by fudged lists like the New York Times Bestsellers.

    It was tough, but I decided to go down the self-publishing road myself. After years of rejection, my book is now available in print and as an eBook all over the world. People buy it. I get paid for my words and my work. I am a professional writer. Rather than guard my place jealously, I want other people to know that there is an alternative, and that self-publishing USED to be a vanity affair of self-love. Those times are gone, and your author friend doesn’t recognize that, or doesn’t want to.

    Here is a really good to a dialogue between two authors, both now self-publishers after leaving traditional publishing. I recommend reading it, and if your author-friend wanted to actually sell more books and make more per sale, she should read it too.

    http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/03/ebooks-and-self-publishing-dialog.html

    Good luck!

    • I am a big fan of JA Konrath. I admit there is a lot of crap out there and hope I am not adding to it. I just want to keep trying to find a way in :)

  4. If you need anything to help negate there words, just look at Scott Nicholson and J. A. Konrath. Both have gone through traditional publishing and are staunch supporters of the self-published and indie authors. Traditional publishing has been the monopoly for over a century or more. I think some people don’t see how there can be anything that can match it. Bottom line, it’s our art, do what feels right to you and you can never go wrong.

    • I have no false hopes of the same type of success but if people enjoy it I will be happy.

      • I feel the same way. I’m writing for a niche market and I don’t expect to make it big. There are people out there who want something different, who want the kind of stories I write, but not enough of them to tempt any publisher. So be it. I’m not going to bang my head against the wall trying to get into the guarded sanctuary when I can find appreciative readers outside.

  5. It’s easy to be a bit self conscious when you’re doing what we’re doing. Put your stuff out there however you can (so long as you aren’t using one of the crooked vanity presses) and see what you can do. You may not break into Konrath’s numbers, but if you bring joy to a few dozen or hundred people then that’s a good thing.

  6. This was a very inspiring post. I can completely see how something like that would hurt and make you feel insecure (or bring up insecurities you’d already pushed back and had a lock on).

    Zoe Winters made an interesting statement about this jealousy in a post where she talked about how everyone was winners and no one could lose. With anyone being able to publish now, it makes their “traditional” publishing validation sort of null and void in a way because anyone can do it and possibly become successful enough at it to earn a living wage.

    Your final conclusion– right on. I mean, what does it hurt to put it out there? I’m going to link to my new favorite post. On the surface, I know it may seem as if she’s not talking about the same thing, but I think in a way she is. At the end she concludes that nothing can happen if you don’t put it out there in the first place. “…even if no one comments or emails you or tweets it or shares it or tells you how much they love it — it still adds to the collective voice, and it still changes everything.”

  7. I would love one day for my name to be on the hard cover of a book I wrote with love, passion, blood, sweat and tears. It should be no different for you. I do think you are incrediably brave for jumping off the high dive, said from someone wadding in the shallow end. But that’s just it, you’ve been up on the high dive for sometime and everyone is watching you. Yeah, sure you could belly flop but you could totally pull off a dive that leaves everyone clapping and congratulating you. Why not take the leap? I say go for it. We need more daring people willing to make the head of feet leap into the water. Shake up the water, prove that self publishing isn’t as scary as the Big Bad Publishing World is making it out to be.
    Good Luck, have faith in your words.

  8. I wish I could say it gets easier to hear people you like and respect saying things like that, it doesn’t. It stings, for sure, and just because you feel that way doesn’t mean you don’t have a thick enough skin, it just means you feel. We’re allowed to feel slighted when our friends say things that are hurtful, even when they aren’t directed at us.

    Having thick skin just means that even though it hurts, we don’t let it stop us from moving forward. And clearly, you’re doing that. Kudos to you for going after what you want.

    Check out the Writer’s Cafe at Kindleboards.com – and there’s a great indie group on Facebook as well if you’re interested (feel free to friend me on FB, and I can add you to the group). Having a support group helps a lot when dealing with stuff like this, and gives you a safe place to vent as well. :-)

    Best of luck with your book(s)!

  9. I feel for you, mister! When I wrote my first novel it was meant as a gift for my daughter. I never had traditional publishing in mind and only kept writing because people kept asking for the next adventure.
    Twelve novels later, I’ve said “thanks, but no thanks to two traditional publishing companies and even released my literary agent!”
    I started as an indie author, I’ve chosen to remain indie, and if I had not taken steps to get my books out there, the film producer who optioned my first three novels for a major motion picture trilogy would never have seen the interview I did on MTV!
    It is a sad thing that indie musicians and indie film makers receive great recognition & praise for what they do, but for now, there are those who stare down their noses at us, but I’d like to believe it will only be a matter of time. Things will change and the indie author who puts out great stories will be recognized for their works! Why not you?
    J

  10. Late to the party, but do it. The world is changing, More e-books sell now than *paperbacks*. Crazy, huh? lately I’ve read a couple of articles about people who have made more that $100k with self published Kindle books. One dude made $200k last year, and it seems his books suck. Well, suck to some small % of the people who bought them. Last week a single author had about a dozen books in the Kindle top 100 list… all self published.

    Here’s the thing – there is no stigma if you make money. My friend Grover did a Kindle book, I bought it, it was okay – and just as good as many books I’ve bought in bookstores. Better than some bestsellers I’ve read.

    Just do it. What do you have to lose?

  11. While I was learning to write for children, I joined a group of published authors who wrote children’s books. I bought and promoted many of these author’s books during that four years, but after so many rejections from publishers not wanting to take on new authors in this new digital age, I decided to self publish. Do you think those regularly published authors bought any of my books? No, not a paperback and not even a $1.00 eBook. I don’t even think they downloaded a free eBook from a promotion, and if they did, they certainly didn’t tell me or review any of my books like I did for them. Though there is one great children’s book author who regularly tweets my posts. I respect her for that as she does it publicly even though I’m self published.

    I’m proud to be self published. I’ve done it on my own with no editors other than my on-line critique group and no schooling to speak of. I don’t regret self-publishing for one second. I have control over my book’s pricing, publishing dates, and what promotion to use. I’ve learned to ignore the mean comments from folks who think self-published authors write crap.

    One lady told me that her daughter now carries one of my books under her arm and takes it with her wherever she goes. Five pensioners in my mother’s retirement village ordered all of my books because they like the slap-stick humour. And best of all, a librarian on a reader’s website, publicly thanked me for writing books that inspired her fourteen-year-old autistic son to learn how to read. No insult about self publishing can take that away from me because to me, an author couldn’t get better than that. So now, when I read on websites that self-published authors write crap, I just smile and think about my fans.

    CS, I bet you have wonderful fans too. Plus you’re the kind of teacher every kid would love to have. Thanks for sharing. I loved this post. sorry about my long vent. :)

  12. There will always be ‘nay sayers’ I wouldn’t worry, they have an opinion, although it’s always easy to slam everyone else when you are already successful. I will be self publishing but one thing I will say is that not enough self publishing writers get their stuff professionally edited, which makes all of us look unprofessional. It can really help your work and even if it only means there are no typos or grammatical errors in the finished product, that is still a big step in the right direction. Take the leap and be proud!

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    [...] and all things connected to it yet again. One instance cause a fellow writer, C. S. Daley, to write this blog post. While I can’t say for sure who he is talking about, I have a few guesses, and even if they [...]

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