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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Self-Publishing—Going it alone

I was kicking around the blog-o-sphere and came across A.J. Mullarky’s blog Magpie and Pen. She is so nice, so I asked her about her decision to self publish. It's such an interesting question. Why do some authors self-publish? Why do some insist on the traditional route?

Today I’m posting her insightful response. Take it away Alex :)

Going it alone

Or, why self-publishing is for me but may not be for you, and certainly isn’t for everybody.

I keep finding myself being asked why I’ve self-published the books I’ve written so far. The answer is easy really: my goal has not always been to make my living as a published author (obligation takes the fun out of everything for me) but to see my books in print. Since I was about ten years old I saw this as an unattainable dream, or one that was near impossible to fulfil. But that isn’t the case.

I understand the stigma about self-publishing. There’s no guarantee of quality, none at all, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hidden gems out there. I work hard on my books, not only on the content – that’s a given – but also on getting them to a standard I’m proud of when they’re distributed. I think the key is seeing how an author conducts themselves. Pamela Lyn is an example of one self-published author who acts like a professional. Her blog (http://publishedinayear.blogspot.com/) is very enlightening and her website (http://www.pamelalyn.com) is the evidence. She obviously puts a lot of effort into conducting herself professionally.

I’m also a control freak. I’d be at a disadvantage with a traditional publisher in some ways. I love creating cover art, working with photographers based on my own ideas and then creating the finished product myself. It’s one of my favourite parts. Of course, you’re getting more professional quality with a traditional publisher. You’re guaranteed to get something fantastic. The Twilight cover art is beautiful, but a look at Stephenie Meyer’s website can show you she had very different ideas. I fully understand that having a dedicated team behind you must be an incredible privilege. I hope one day I will see art created by others, inspired by my writing. But I love creating the art myself. I just love it.

There are huge pitfalls to self-publishing. Formatting is the bane of my existence. Changing page sizes, margin sizes, font styles and indents and block paragraphs and copyright pages and headers and footers and numbering – it’s enough to make your head explode. It takes hours, and it isn’t fun. I can’t pretend I wouldn’t love to have someone else do this for me. Once the hard slog is over, though, you can’t help but feel proud. You do feel like you’ve worked to create a good product.

The main thing, I think, is validation. Having your book accepted by an agent and a publisher proves to the world that you deserve to be read, because professionals in the field have given you their stamp of approval. It’s as simple as that. There can be many reasons why your book isn’t accepted by them, and sometimes they sound like excuses, but that doesn’t make it true. Book publishing is an incredibly competitive market and agents and editors don’t want to take the plunge unless they’re really, truly passionate about a book. You don’t necessarily need to keep trying to find someone as passionate about your book as you are. It’s a tremendous boost if you do, but it is possible to be the driving force behind your book. You just need to have faith in your abilities.

I would love to be traditionally published. There’s no point pretending otherwise. It’s a huge honour to have your book selected from the thousands and thousands that are hopefully sent out every day. But I can’t see the harm in putting in the groundwork myself. People have praised unsigned musicians who found an audience through Youtube and the indie filmmakers who created Napoleon Dynamite (love it). From now on, I’m calling it ‘going indie’. There’s no harm in going it alone. In fact, it’s a lot of fun.

Thanks so much Alex! It’s so interesting to get a peek into others authors minds.

-Angie

12 comments:

Brenda Drake said...

Great post. Thanks A.J. and Angie for sharing this! <3

Abby said...

This is a great post. I've always been interested to know more about how self-publishing works and the pros and cons. Not just from a pro-agent side either. This is wonderful. So glad you shared today. :)

Crystal Collier said...

I've had mixed feelings about this subject. Recently I stumbled across a self-pubbed book that really started me thinking. It wasn't perfect, but the LOVE was there. I think traditional writers get the snot kicked out of their original story, and often they lose the love. I can name three of my recent reads where it felt like the flame went out and the writer's vision had been betrayed by the beast of editorial bullying. In that light, I'm back to teetering on the brink--whereas before, I was dead set on traditional publishing. *sigh* What to do now?

Miranda Hardy said...

I'm with you Alex. Great post.

Jenny S. Morris said...

Thanks for the information. I have a friend that is thinking about going this route. I think this might be encouraging to her.

Rebecca said...

Excellent post! I'm planning on self-publishing because I only have time for writing now as a hobby, among other reasons. I homeschool my children and can't do both that and adhere to a publisher's guidelines. Thankfully I have friends who are good critiquers and don't hold back.

E.R. King said...

I'm still not sure if self-publishing is for me, but I understand why others choose it. I'm also a control freak, which is why I haven't totally dismissed the idea.
Thanks Angie and Alex!

Angela Brown said...

So many self-published writers are being validated, the two most recent being Amanda Hocking and John Locke for the deals they just made, but before the deals, they were successful with just e-books. So many things to consider.

I wonder if self-publishing would do well with a small clique of crit partners who look out for each other, take the final product to market and do the marketing with each other...would that make the self-publishing experience less of a "going alone" experience?

A.J. Mullarky said...

Thanks for posting this Angie, and thanks for the comments everyone :)

Tara Tyler said...

excellent posts all. my biggest fear for self pub is getting lost in a growing "slush pile" of wanna bes, just like the query slush piles. i will try a long time before giving the self pub a go. i never say never =)

Kim said...

This was such an interesting post... Although we need a second installment about how to market the thing :)
Thanks for sharing this, Angie...

Isabel said...

Excellent post!!

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