A self published author shares his thoughts, and I share some of mine

I thought this would be a great way to kick off this blog of mine.  One of the things I wanted to do was share information and experiences from other writers, and YouTube is a great way to do it.  Visual media has never been more popular, so it provides an excellent source for things other than silly cat videos or the latest Internet memes.

Darryl Sloan has some interesting insights about the world of self publishing and how its negative connotations have, for the most part, made it almost taboo when compared to what could be termed “real publishing”.  While I agree with most of what he says, I’d like to add some of my own here.

Okay, let me take you through the steps involved in “real publishing”.  First and foremost, you write your story.  No matter what genre it is, if it’s fiction or non-fiction or whatever, you pour your heart and soul out.  Then the editing process begins.  It could take weeks, months, years.  No matter the time spent, at the end you have your manuscript.  You bask in its finished glory for a few moments, then start the next phase of the journey: hunt down an agent.  And while you’re doing that, you go to step number three: perfecting the query letter.

I won’t lie, the query letter has been the bane of my existence since I started this road.  It demands you squeeze your book into a few, short paragraphs designed to hook the agent from word one.  Some people can accomplish this, and I applaud them for it.  For me, it was always difficult.  My summarizing skills aren’t the best, and it’s a lot harder to pitch an idea to a complete stranger than it is to your friends or family.  They’ll be interested in your stuff no matter what.  But for the sake of this explanation, let’s say you write an awesome query letter and it grabs the agent you’re most interested in representing your work.  Yay, you got your foot in the door! Now the agent takes over the selling of your book, leaving you the time you need to sit back and do what you do best: write.  The agent sells it to a big name house, you sign your contract and booyah- there it is, sitting pretty on the new release shelf of your favorite bookstore.

This is an ideal scenario, one we all dream of.  The reality is a lot harsher.

The chances of your manuscript getting out of the slush pile are minimal at best, even if it’s stellar.  Say it does get past the slush pile and onto an editor’s desk.  There’s no guarantee the editor will give it a green light either.  Maybe they don’t represent the genre you write in, or they only do children’s books.  The heart of any reason for a rejection with a publishing house lies with one thing only: profit.

Case in point: you wrote a stimulating novel with a fresh take on the supernatural.  It’s wowed everyone who’s read it, be it friend, family member or agent.  But the publishing house turns it down because the supernatural isn’t selling.  Torrid romances with forbidden themes are all the rage, and they want more.  They want what sells.  So your lovely novel gets the boot because it’s not profitable.  Sad but true, and something we writers tend to forget.  Publishing is a business.  Plain and simple.

Writers are artists, and like any artist, we carry a certain sense of pride in our craft that’s often paired with sensitivity.  We expose ourselves on paper, and when we are handed a big fat rejection letter, it’s easy to understand why the knee-jerk reaction is to sit in a corner and cry, or wonder what we did wrong, or question if we aren’t as good as we thought.

The answer to that is you ARE.

We all are.  Like Darryl states in his video, don’t let the fact that a publishing house turned you down dissuade you from writing.  For a long time I despaired over ever breaking it into the “big leagues” because the stuff I liked to write wasn’t what every Tom, Dick and Harry was reading or talking about.  I don’t have that hang up anymore.  Self publishing is our solace: it allows us to publish what we want.  Does this mean a lot of self published titles are bad? Yes.  But then again, so are a lot of published titles.  Just take a look at what’s for sale at your local bookstore.  It’s the same damn thing because- yep, you guessed it.  That’s the crap that sells.  So until the next big “thing” takes the public by storm, we must endure all the copycat titles of what’s been selling.

For me, I take another comfort in self publishing.  I’m not doing this for money.  If money was what I was after then I’d already have joined the Legion of Copycat Titles and kicked back in my chair with a drink in hand and my toes in the sand.  I’m doing this for the joy of writing; whether Renegade sells one copy or dozens, I take pleasure in knowing that these characters who have lived with me since 2005 are being shared by others.  And it will continue to inspire me to keep writing.  May it do the same for you!

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