A friend of mine finished writing a book in her junior year of high school. She spent a little while querying agents, and after receiving a handful of rejections, she decided that her talent was not being appreciated and she decided to take a different route: self-publishing. Last spring, she had one-hundred books printed, and, as I understand it, managed to sell them all (to friends and family mostly). I was one of her proofreaders, and I had the good fortune to receive a free copy. I will say this for her writing: it’s not bad. She is an excellent storyteller, but I can hardly blame the agents for denying her – her writing was rough, and she is stubborn enough to think she could change some of the rules of the English language… never a good idea when you are trying to publish. But she did tell a good story.
Not all self-publishers are doing it because they don’t feel “appreciated”. Self-publishes offers a lot more freedom over your work, where it is distributed, and how it is used. You don’t have to change your work if you don’t want to, you have creative control over your covers. From start to end, your book remains yours.
It is also a lot more work. You are doing your own marketing, you are responsible for your own deadlines. This can be a good or a bad thing… but being an author really becomes a second full-time job if you choose to self-publish and have the drive to be successful. Fortunately there are a lot of tools out there that will help you with self-publishing – LuLu and CreateSpace are two of the popular ones, one is more user-friendly, while the other definitely offers more services (for example, CreateSpace allows you to post your book on Amazon.com).
I’m old-fashioned. I want to feel as though I’ve earned my book. While I do believe that self-publishers have to work hard to get their work published and successful, for me, that feels like taking a shortcut. For me to feel fully accomplished as a writer, I want to be able to write a book that someone else sees and believes in enough to work with me to make everyone love it. The story may be my baby, but I want the book to belong to more people than just myself. I don’t mind editing it again and again and again and scrapping it and writing a new one, if that is what it takes.
I really need to emphasize, though, that this is a personal choice, and I know there are many successful self-publishers and I am well-aware of how hard they work and I think that they earn everyone one of their sales. But for me, it wouldn’t be the same.
Besides, I read somewhere that Stephen King had a nail upon which he posted all of his rejection notices – dozens of them. Several publishers denied the Harry Potter franchise before Jo Rowling found someone willing to take a chance on her. Each rejection notice is just a tiny step closer to an acceptance, and it is a lesson in humility.
Do you intend to publish a book? How do you intend to go about it?