Just Get Over Yourself

“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.

Whose Judgement REALLY Matters?

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.

So what do you think? Are the labels of ‘traditionally published’ vs. ‘self published’ about ego? Does it ultimately come down to what the readers think and the sales numbers show?

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About Elena Aitken

Elena is a work at home/stay at home/write at home mom of twins who regularly loses herself in her fictional characters because their lives are way more exciting!
This entry was posted in Indie Publishing, The Road to Being Published and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Just Get Over Yourself

  1. Linda says:

    Elena, Nothing Stays In Vegas is extremely well done. Your love of your craft is evident. So naysayers about self-publishing will probably stop pooh-poohing if they give your book a chance.

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Thank you, Linda.
      Your comment means a lot. There are so many great indie books out there just waiting to be discovered by the readers. :)

  2. Marianne says:

    I think it is awesome you were able to do this. I think writiers put so much pressure on themselves that if we stopped we might actually enjoy writing more :)

  3. Hartford says:

    Funny. As I started into this blog world about 18 months ago and started reading about self-publishing, the stereotype never even occured to me. I simply couldn’t get over my excited that now I didn’t HAVE to find an agent and a publisher and I COULD go at it on my own (with little expense), and I could be a hit. I had no idea a revolution in the publishing world had been going on for years and was exploding. For me it meant freedom! It meant I could write and publish by my own rules. No more waiting for someone else to tell me I was good enough. No more waiting…period! I was liberating and have been PUMPED up on POSSIBILITIES! So here here for getting yourself our of your own way and going at it. You are good enough! Your writing rocks. I can’t wait to read your book! :-)

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Thanks, Natalie. That’s a very interesting perspective, coming from the other side.
      Honestly, for me, it’s been so much of worrying about how I’m going to be perceived as a writer. It likely stems from that whole…lack of confidence so many of us writers suffer from. BUT, it’s coming. every day I have more confidence in myself and my ability to do this. :)

  4. Ali Dent says:

    Oh my, I’ve thought all these things too. You did a great job shedding wisdom on the subject. Thank you so much!

  5. Kait Nolan says:

    Welcome to the dark side. We have cookies!

    More and more authors are making this sort of paradigm shift, and I think this is what’s continuing to drive the changes in publishing. The traditional gatekeepers are no longer as relevant. And if you think about it, agents and publishers are still, at heart, readers. You have to connect with them as a reader FIRST–THEN you have to go through a bunch of other rigamarole that has to do with marketability, freshness of idea, and other things that often keep perfectly wonderful books off the shelves.

    With self publishing you just have to impress the reader–enough to tell their friends “Hey, I really liked this book.” And hopefully you’ll keep impressing readers enough to build some momentum and reputation. It’s a slow process but ultimately incredibly gratifying.

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Cookies?! I’m in!
      Thanks for coming back to comment, Kait.
      Your writing career has been an inspiring one to follow! It is a slow process, but you’re so right, incredibly gratifying. I now get to write stores and KNOW that people will read them. Love it. :)

  6. You know, it’s a crazy business. A few years ago, I truly believed e-pubbed wasn’t “really” published. But I had friends who were getting accepted by e-pubs and getting happily published. Just erotica, I said. And my muse gives me more traditional romances. (Insert scoff)

    But I kept looking at those e-publishers. Two of them really got my attention. And I’m currently proudly published by both of them (Samhain Publishing and The wild Rose Press). Now I find myself in an odd position. Friends are going indie. Happily. And here I am, in the middle ground. No longer on the cutting edge. Odd place to be. It’s great though, that we have choices. Our careers can be built around all those different choices. It’s a new world, and I’m excited to be part of it. :)

    Oh, and a few years ago I said I’d never get married again. My hubby and I will be married 12 years in November. It’s interesting, all my writing success has been since we got together. I love that man!

    Good luck to you and your career!

    • Elena Aitken says:

      you’re right. I didn’t even mention the middle ground, but I know a lot of people who’ve gone that route as well and are finding success. I think that’s the key- there are more routes to publication success that originally thought of. It’s important to keep an open mind to all routes, or a combination of routes. Success can be had in many ways.

  7. susielindau says:

    I agree that the publishing world has changed and we need to change with it. It didn’t take me much convincing. A writer can make more money per book sold as well. I own a Nook and I think E-readers will become the norm.
    Great post!

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Hi, Susie. Thanks for stopping by.
      I do think e-readers will become the norm instead of the exception and the numbers are starting to show it. You’re so right, we have to be able to change with this rapidly changing publishing world. And I think the writers that can stay flexible and open to that change will see success.
      Thanks for the comment.

  8. Lyn Murphy says:

    To my way of thinking, a publisher is just one entity who sets itself up as the voice of the general public. So because of the opinion of one, your talents and your efforts as a writer may well go unrecognised. E-publishing means you put yourself out there and let the general public decide for themselves. After all, they are the ones who will ultimately buy and read your books.

  9. Elena,

    This is an awesome post. I share many of your sentiments and in fact YOU were the one that pushed me off the cliff when I was teetering between continuing to chase the dream of being traditionally published, and wondering if self-publishing was the way to go.

    Like you, I had some pre-conceived notions about how I, and my book, would be viewed if I went indie. I had already connected with you and Trish and Leanne on Twitter, and loved the #wordbitches hashtag and blog (my blog is hosted by blogger, but I finally signed up for a wordpress account so I could post comments easier). Anyway, my perception of the wordbitches was that you were three intelligent women dedicated to the craft of writing and you liked wine (which automatically means you are awesome in my book). Plus, you and I write in the same genre (romantic women’s fiction) and I’ll admit: I thought I’d follow your lead (my book was still with the editor and copyeditor so I knew I wouldn’t be releasing until September) and see if you thought the indie route was a good decision. And it totally was, wasn’t It? I saw your post the other day about receiving a rejection letter from a long-ago query, and how you’ve already sold 250 books which is awesome. I truly believe self-publishing can be a very rewarding experience and I’m glad I followed you off the cliff. I wish you continued success and like the others who have commented, I too believe that the changes in publishing benefit readers and writers alike. Shifting from a gatekeeper business model to one that lets readers decide is long overdue. This is an exciting time.


  10. Carol Riggs says:

    Yep, never say never. I said I’d never join Twitter or Facebook, and now I’m on both (okay, my agent “made” me join FB). But I’m enjoying both. Anyway, I think the world of publishing is definitely changing. And hopefully the writers with the best books will do well/the best, and many people will read those books! Best wishes for yours.

  11. Congratulations on a wonderful post and a great paradigm shift! I have self-published two books, one that I wrote and one that I edited, and I will soon release my first novel as an e-book. I take great pride in my writing, and so I have worked with two different editors to make the novel the best I can…and hopefully I’ll find readers. But I love the relative immediacy (I’ve worked on this novel for a year and a half, hence the “relative”) and the freedom. For me personally, it’s the best way to go.

  12. Pingback: The Birth of a Book | Wordbitches

  13. Pingback: Wordbitches Cross Post -The Birth of a Book « Elena Aitken – Don't forget to breathe

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