If you've been reading any of my author interviews over the last few weeks, you know I've been at this writing gig a long time. About twenty years to be exact. I banged out my first real manuscript on a loaned PC that took up half my dining-room table while my daughter slept in her crib.
That's a long time to hold on to a dream.
A long time to hold out hope that one day it might actually come true.
I can't tell you the number of times well-meaning friends and relatives asked me why I just didn't fork out the money and self-publish. To be perfectly honest, I considered it. But a nagging feeling just wouldn't allow me to proceed further. Consider the following:
Your daughter is the biggest Justin Beiber fan in the world. (Yeah, I know, but he's big, go with it). She has posters of him all over her room. She eats, sleeps, breathes all things Justin. And he's coming to your town the weekend of her birthday. She knows she can't go to the concert. Tickets are way too expensive and you're already working two jobs to pay rent and put food on the table. But you decide you're going to splurge and get tickets. It'll be the best birthday surprise ever and you can't wait to see the look on her face! So here you are, in a line with hundreds of other people. You set up camp hours before the tickets went on sale. Brought your sleeping bag and slept on the cold ground. It's raining and the group of girls behind you have been drinking all night. And puking. But the ticket counter finally opens and the line starts to move. You wait a few more hours, chewing on your nails and wondering, hoping and praying, that the concert isn't going to sell out before you get tickets. Just as it's your turn to approach the window, you notice the stretch limo pull up to the curb. The driver hops out and opens the door for a young girl dressed like a princess, followed by her Daddy in Armani. They step in front of you, engage in conversation with the girl behind the window and walk away with ten tickets. The last ten tickets.
And there you stand, soaking wet, exhausted, hungry and devastated.
Okay, so that's my analogy. If you're an aspiring author, you know what this is all about. You can account for every hour spent on your words. You remember every rejection letter you've ever received. You smile when you recall the praise you've been getting and you hold onto hope that maybe, just maybe, this will be the year your manuscript will land on the right editor's desk at precisely the right time. You will be published.
And then you read about Amanda Hocking.
Doesn't it tick you off just a little?
I have nothing against the girl. I've read her blog and she seems very sweet. She lucked out, no doubt about it. I've also read through some of the reviews of her stuff. It's not all good. But there she sits on the NYT Bestseller List.
If you have self-published, please do not take this as an attack. In fact I'd love to hear your side of this. Why did you decide to give up on traditional publishing? Is the reward of seeing your book in print greater than slugging it out for a few more years? I'm just asking. For me, having an editor in a traditional publishing house finally 'get it', was like the biggest relief in the world. I'm not published with a big house, so I am putting out a lot of cash in marketing and getting the word out about my book. I don't doubt that somebody who is self-published has to work just as hard, if not harder, to get noticed in the market. I don't know, for me, paying a company to publish your work (and some of the fees are outrageous), doesn't sit right. That's just my opinion.
There are both sides to the coin. My agent Rachelle Gardner has addressed the topic of self-publishing numerous times on her blog. If you're interested, she has a 'Search This Blog' button down near the bottom, you can find the posts that way. It seems like a lot of people don't see anything wrong with self-publishing. Just like a lot of people don't see anything wrong with living together and not getting married.
I guess when you're traditional like me, that tends to seep into my decision making process. I chose to stick it out and take the get-an-agent-first-publishing-contract-second route. Was it easy? Heck no.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. If I still wasn't published would I be considering self-publishing? No. I'm a masochist.
So let's discuss this. What's your opinion on self-publishing?