Those Self-Publishing Losers

Sometimes . . . admittedly . . . when I look at traditionally published authors, there’s a part of me that feels like a loser. Why can’t I go that route? I guess my work’s just not as good. Of course having been around awhile, I know their work is not so much better, but they did have an editor. And even their editor (who is really just a specialized writer) is just a person like me. Once you’ve read enough books I’m sure you start to find typos and plot holes and things that you just didn’t think worked. Their editors did not protect them.

So why are they published? Simply put they wrote what someone believed was a marketable product; it got polished; and it got to market with the backing of a very interested marketer.

That’s great. Nothing wrong with that, but it does not make the product superior. No surprise there. But the temptation to compare their sucess to my self-indighted failure is strong with me. I remember my recent lessons from Polyanna, and choose to be glad for the fact that other writers have found their avenue.

But maybe it would help if I found the blessings in self-publishing? I can name a few.

•           I keep all the rights forever

•           I get paid forever

•           My books never go out of print

•           I can crank out work on my schedule

But I think the big one, the one that is the most substantial for me, is . . .

•           I get to write what I want

Sure, you can write what you want in the other route, but it never sees the light of day unless you find someone else who thinks there are 20-50,000 other people who also want to read what you wrote. In the meantime, you have to go to conferences, network, find an agent, find an editor, send letter after letter hoping this will be the one that gets accepted. Or maybe, you’ll just settle for a quick rejection with a line or two that wasn’t part of a form letter. So you can continue the cycle.

Again, I’m not disparaging traditionally published writers, I’m trying to amp up my own enthusiasm. I write because I want to write; I need to create and this is an outlet that God has given me. The idea of spending more time that I don’t have just wading through other people’s judgments of a piece of work that excited me seems backwards. Sure I want others to like my stuff, but I already liked it. Why can’t I enjoy it for its own sake?

Not to justify having a low bar for yourself and producing crap and telling everyone else they can’t judge you. I love to hear reviews. Even bad ones that tell me what I’m doing “wrong” so I can do my craft better. I love the craft, I really do. Word choices. Figuring out how to control the pace. How to develop your characters. That’s all good stuff that just comes as part of the nature of creativity. But the big upside of self-publishing is that I can receive that input without having to be beholden to it if I do not also agree with it. You don’t like it, but I do? Fine, I can still hit “submit.”

That’s the thing to take away. Not that one path is good and the other bad. But that they are both good. My path does not need to be like yours for them both to be good. I do not have to have a Ph.D to have a blessed life. I do not have to live in a city, or in the country. I do not need your appraisal of my work to given mine merit. It is good for the sake of itself because it is the product of my life. It has the value of the spirit I put into it.

I guess its about freedom. I can learn from others without being beholden to them.

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2 Responses to Those Self-Publishing Losers

  1. Carolyn Beale Shotsky says:

    I have been a “writer” since before I could write words – I wrote picture books. Now at age 62, I am ready to put my first full manuscript into print – self-published. I have been amazed at how God has directed this timeline. I have had many “signs” of His support. I am writing for Him and have reached the point in my life that if I don’t even cover the costs to print, that is okay. I am getting His message of the love and grace of Christ out there for others to hopefully find. It will not be chopped to pieces for what the “market” wants. If it is a step in helping to save one soul, then that is why I have gone to this “trouble”. I retire in 8 months and will then give my full focus on the writing – if that be our Lord’s will. Books know no time. Just yesterday I received a book written in 1939 and it is a treasure to me for research for the next project. We do this all in God’s time.

    • jsclark says:

      Well said. What’s your manuscript about . . . if you’d like to tease my audience of maybe a handful? Self-pubbers gotta market for other SP’s when they can.

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