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.