“I’d never self publish.”
“Indie books aren’t as good as traditionally published ones.”
“Isn’t e-publishing your own book, telling the world that you’re not good enough to do it any other way?”
Any of these sound familiar? They sure do to me. That because I’ve said all of them at one point. But that was before.
This is now. I’m a big believer in never say never. Because every time I’ve ever said that I’d NEVER do something…I’ve gone and done it.
Same with writing. I said that I would never, ever, I mean EVER consider self-publishing in any format. I believed I was good enough and talented enough to do it the traditional route. Guess what? I still believe I’m good enough and talented enough to go the ‘traditional’ route. I just decided it wasn’t the only route.
The terms self-published, e-book, indie author, print on demand all evoke strong responses. There is a stereo-type, (albeit one that’s fading everyday) of some poor soul shilling his books out of the trunk of his car with a hand drawn cover, text that hasn’t been edited and a nonsensical story between the pages. Like I said, that image is fading. And that’s because the whole entire publishing industry is changing, and if you didn’t know that, that’s okay but you have a lot of research and reading to do. Get busy.
When I was contemplating taking my books the indie route, I had one major stumbling block. I couldn’t get over the stereo-type. I couldn’t see past the image of the guy I just described. I didn’t want to be him. And more importantly, I didn’t want to be thought of as that guy.
I couldn’t get over myself.
In May, I posted a question on Wordbitches to inquire about the feelings of Traditional vs. E-Publishing. At this point, I was really conflicted on the whole thing. I saw authors publishing on Amazon who were gaining more and more popularity every day. They were selling books, lots of books, which meant people (other than family and friends) were reading them. That’s huge.
My big hold up which I spoke about in that blog post was this:
“For me, landing an agent has always been the holy grail of writing, because it’s someone in the industry telling me I’m ‘good enough’. If I e-publish my own book, I alone am deciding that I’m good enough, but will anyone else think so?”
And then Kait Nolan, a very successfully e-published author, left a comment:
“But the one thing where you’re wrong is that with self publishing, you aren’t the one who declares it good enough. The readers do.”
She said a lot of other great stuff too, and I encourage you to check out her blog. But it was that one comment that stuck with me.
She was right. Even if I played the game and convinced an agent and then an editor that my book was great, it would be the readers who ultimately decided if it was really good enough. If it sold, it certainly wouldn’t be because of the non-existent marketing budgets that the publishing houses put behind a new, unknown author. No, that would be my effort and again…the readers would be the judge of whether it was good enough or not. They would determine if it would sell.
And, if I self-published, the readers would still be the judge. That was a turning point for me and my decision. It took a bit more to get there, but I’ve never forgotten Kait’s comment. I had to sit down and ask myself honestly why I really wanted an agent. Was it because I needed the approval of someone else to tell me I was good enough, or was it because I thought that was how it should be done? How we as writers were told it should be done.
Wasn’t my goal to write books that people wanted to read? To have them read them and enjoy them? To entertain people and eventually, make some money doing it? And I couldn’t do that if my books were sitting on my hard drive while I played the traditional publishing game. A game that could take years to play. So why was I clinging so desperately to a publishing model that wouldn’t guarantee success anyway?
Because of ego.
Now that my book has been out for a few months, I realize how right Kait was. The readers will decide if my book is ‘good enough’. And for now, they are. I haven’t been one of those astronomical, over night success stories, but sales have been steady and they’re increasing every day. At the time of this post, in two months, I’ve sold over 250 books. That’s 250 people who have read my words! Did they all like it, probably not. You can’t please everyone (more on that in another post). But lots did like it. And hopefully they’ll like the next one too. And the one after that.
If I hadn’t gotten over my own ego and my own self imposed stereotypes, I never would have gotten to this point. People wouldn’t be reading my books and I wouldn’t be positioned and ready for the future. The fact is, the industry IS changing. E-books are out selling paper books. Authors CAN do it on their own. The ‘gatekeepers’ of publishing are losing their grip. Self-published is NOT a bad word anymore. I am NOT a lesser writer because I chose this path, in fact many self-published authors are outselling traditionally published ones and turning down contracts from the traditional publishers. That speaks.