Last week, after I finished up one of the final chapters for my book, I decided to dive back into some research on the topic of whether to pursue independent or traditional publishing. For a half hour I sifted through article after article that seemed determined to convince aspiring authors that success, income, and a following from self publishing is not possible. Long story short, the only way I could ever pursue a writing career and live a life off of what I create is to latch myself onto a major publisher.
On the other side of the conversation, many accounts from self published/indie authors typically sound the same–they tried to get their book published and after a painful amount of rejections (hundreds I tell ya, hundreds!) they went the self publishing route. As a I knew author, I’ve never had a book rejected by an agent or publishing company. I realized I’d been looking at this from a different perspective. Independent publishing is my Plan A, not my Plan B. Am I doing this wrong?
My observant husband noticed my turmoil. Just moments before I had been in a creative flow (think Kermit the Frog at a typewriter meme), but now I had dissolved into a heaving heap of tears (think Cinderella after being told she ain’t going to no damn ball!). I told him how uncertain I was. How fearful I was that I’d never reach an audience that enjoyed my books and that I’d never see a penny from my work if I didn’t start firing off emails agents. I was tormented. He consoled me.
But then…He asked a question, “Aren’t there authors who are published with companies but their books never sell?”
I wiped my snot on my T-shirt, “Why yes, sir, there are. There are plenty.”
He continued, “So, there’s no guarantee in that either. Why not bet on yourself?”
My husband. My wonderful husband who cannot get through one chapter in a book without falling asleep–he reached into my tortured writer’s soul and unlocked a door.There is NO guarantee either way. Traditional publishing does not hold the skeleton key to success. I read more and learned that Authors are still primarily responsible for the marketing of their books even after a publisher has their hands in it. So, why not take a chance on myself?
It ties back in to this pervasive thought in our society that we are not valuable until some institution tells us we are. This idea that we need extra polishing before we can be acceptable to an audience and only they can do that polishing. I think what social media and direct-to-consumer platforms have taught us is that 1– We can do the polishing ourselves. We are capable of building professional art, products, and platforms that are consumable. 2– If people connect to it, they don’t give a damn where it came from.
The main reason I’m pursuing my writing is to not only create but to have freedom and autonomy in it. I want to leave a legacy. I want to bring my community, in all its diverse glory, on as well. But not only bring them into the proverbial house, I want to show them how to build it for themselves so that they’ll never be without shelter again.
It would bring me joy to see indie publishing (indie creation as a whole) as the Plan A. Because the reality is, this is where Big Co. finds us. In our element, out here grinding on these ‘amateur platforms’. There are scouts and eyes all over these platforms looking for the next big thing. If they become interested in us and our creations in its raw form, why wouldn’t others?
Want to read my raw stuff? That sounds nasty. No, it’s just my novel, “Say When”. It’s a young adult fiction romance novel that takes place is Brooklyn, NY with characters that look and sound like me and the people I grew up with. Check it out for free on Wattpad: Read “Say When”.