Hello everyone! Elizabeth has very kindly invited me to guest post on her blog today, and I’m thrilled and honored to be here.
On June 21, 2012, I self-published my very first novel through CreateSpace, an Amazon.com affiliate. (More information about the book, Only a Novel, can be found at the end of this post.) It was the end of a long, fun but arduous process that began in November of 2011. And today I am here to talk about the experience of self-publishing. Do me a favor and don’t fall asleep, okay? I promise to try and make it interesting.
When I first heard about self-publishing, my initial reaction was, “Oh, that’s nice… but when I write books, I want to publish them for real.” I think that may be most people’s viewpoint on self-publishing, and I am here today to say that self-publishing IS for real.
I don’t claim to be any sort of an expert, but it seems to me that there are three main reasons why people shy away from self-publishing.
1. Your work is not reviewed by an agent or a publisher, and you don’t get accepted or rejected.
2. Your book won’t appear in bookstores unless you make arrangements yourself for this to happen (and that’s not an easy thing to do). In the same vein, you won’t get to do book signings unless you organize those yourself too, and so you miss out on all the free chocolate running around at book signings. (There is free chocolate at book signings… right? Don’t disillusion me if there isn’t.)
3. You have to do all the formatting, proofreading and editing yourself (unless you hire someone to do it for you, which can be really expensive).
Like I said, I ain't no expert, nor do I claim to have all the answers, but I do love to debate, so I have a ready argument for each of those three points. Let's start with number one. (For obvious reasons.) With self-publishing, you have the freedom to publish what you like without worrying about rejection from a publisher who wants nothing more than to make money. No, you aren't getting an acceptance letter from a big-name company-- but why, exactly, is that so special? I'm not trying to sound cynical here, but when you think about it... who really cares what a publishing house thinks? Are you writing to please a publishing house, or to please your Savior, your loved ones and yourself? (And hey, I'm not saying that publishing a book through a traditional publisher is a bad thing-- not at all. I'm just saying that it's not the only option!) About book signings-- again, this is one of those "are you seeking praise or just writing because you love it?" things. Book signings aren't bad. Book signings are fun! And there's chocolate! (That is, having never been to one, I can only assume that they are fun and that there is chocolate. Again, don't disillusion me.) But we don't write because we dream of book signings, do we? We write because it's in our blood. (Although if you do write only because you dream of book signings, then by all means churn out a book about vampires, make a gazillion dollars and have fun at your book signings. Only don't expect me to ever speak to you again if you write a book about vampires.)
Proofreading, editing, and formatting, however... well, on this note I can't be quite as upbeat. The simple truth is that these things are a pain in the upper-vertebrae-and-laryngeal-tubes. Formatting will cause you to want to tear your hair out when you realize that the margins on every other page are off, editing will give you an overpowering urge to pull the computer's plug and go take a nap and proofreading has been proven to reduce your creative capacity by 87.3 percent. (We have not yet determined who has proven this fact, but once we do, we'll let you know.) But there is one ray of light shining through the pages and pages of glaring text, and that is that you're doing this exactly the way you want to. You get to pick the font, you get to choose how the pages will be numbered (top or bottom? corners or middles? that is the question) and you get to design the cover image. You're completely in control of your book... it's a deliriously delicious feeling. In fact, the whole experience could be described as deliriously delicious. In a nutshell, self-publishing enables you to get a jump start on your writing journey, and though there are headaches involved, it's so worth it. And even if you don't get book-signing chocolate along the way, you'll survive. Plus, you'll be at a lower risk for diabetes. Yay!
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