I learned something interesting this weekend that I already knew deep down in my heart but still allowed the stigma to characterize my responses.
What was that?
Self publishing means you aren’t good enough for the traditional publishers.
I tried to get into the traditional publishing houses. I tried to land an agent. I failed. Of course the responses I received were not; you aren’t good enough, or your writing is horrible… it was; we are retuning our publishing methods to go to electronic books, or we are too busy right now to take on a new author.
So with a very short amount of time in a lifetime to see your dreams become a reality, and with the technology available to authors today, I did what many are doing, I self published.
A decade ago I went with a Print on Demand publisher (POD) and while I loved the fact that they helped me with my cover artwork, provided the ISBN, did the galley layout, and got me listed in Amazon, Barnes & Noble and every other online bookstore, they didn’t market the book and it cost quite a bit to do and I had to pay top dollar to receive copies of my own book to sell.
Two years ago when my second book of that series came out I went back to the POD publisher who had renamed themselves and retooled their business and was able to do the same thing, faster, easier and this time able to buy books in bulk at printing cost not retail cost. But I still paid a pretty penny to get started and I have a new author representative every month calling to get me to buy books or marketing plans at an obscene amount of money. I didn’t know about CreateSpace, Lulu, Smashwords, etc.
So last year when I teamed up with my illustrator and put together the first Hamilton Troll children’s book, I shopped the publishers again (since it was something completely new and worthy of publishing) as well as the agents and again, got nowhere.
So I self published.
I am proud of what I have accomplished!
I am proud of the reviews and responses I’ve received!
The articles and testimonials have been amazing.
The parent, children, teachers, librarians all love the stories!
So what is wrong?
When someone asks me what publisher I am with, I go vague explaining it is an Ingram distributor. Why would I not say I self-published? I have worked really hard at this! I have read every blog, newsletter, forum discussion, group message. I know that there are success stories like Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Virginia Wolff, Henry David Thoreau, Beatrix Potter and John Grisham. Even some of the newer authors like J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), Christopher Paolini (Eragon), William P. Young (The Shack) have made successes of their books by self publishing.
So why did I go vague?
Because when I am sitting across from an author who HAS been published by a traditional publisher and I say I self published, they give me this look like “You weren’t good enough were you?”
But this weekend I learned something new.
When asked about our publisher, I started to go vague and my illustrator came right out and said it. “We self published.” And my heart sank. I was so afraid of the look we were going to get and instead, it went the exact opposite.
“That’s impressive.” She said. “As an artist we do it all ourselves…” Then she began to explain what she has done as an artist. From concept to creation. Learning techniques to finalizing artwork. Framing and Exposition. Creating prints and cards and trying to build exposure and sales, all on their own with no big publishing house backing them.
Then a man walked up, listening to our conversation and added in his two cents. “Bands are the same way. We write the music, perfect the sound and book the gigs all on our own. We market ourselves as strongly as anyone in hopes of some big music label finding us, which may or may not ever happen.”
The point – is the process.
Having fun. Doing what you love. Perfecting your talent. Getting out there. Doing the shows, gigs and marketing. Building a fan base, gathering followers and making sales WITHOUT that big company name behind you.
If it one day happens, great. If not, so what? If you are doing what you love and the people love you and your work, why would you be ashamed to admit it?
I am sorry I was vague before. I am self-published! I became a publisher by reading everything there is to know about the industry and will continue to read everything that comes out. I will market and promote and create and continue doing what I love in hopes of sharing my stories with as many people as I can touch in my little life.
And I will be proud of it!