Recently someone found out I had published a book and their first questions were, “Who’s your publisher? Do you have an agent? Or did you…self-publish?”
The pause in the last question made me angry.
Later, I got to hear how someone else had a contract for their book. Some young adult what not genre, sub-genre, genre-blending thing. I rolled my eyes. Not because they had a contract. Good for them. But because it was buying into this increasing specificity of writing. It doesn’t matter if you have a good book, a quality book, a book that could be a classic one day. No. It just matters if it is different from everything out there.
The only way to be popular is to be on trend. *eye roll*
I self-published. I couldn’t care less if I were on trend or popular in the eyes of the publishing industry. I created my own imprint and hopefully one day, I’ll open it up to other independent authors who may not have that “unique” book, but a solid story which makes the reader smile or cry. That’s the goal.
You see, I decided to self-publish because I realized the importance of the characters having a life off of the shelf. That shelf that so many people told me I didn’t fit on. Had I continue to query, I no doubt would have given up and the book would have faded into the background, a distant memory, along with any self-confidence I might have had as a writer. After 165 rejections, it was obvious that no matter what I was handing in, it just wasn’t different enough. I wasn’t meant for that popular shelf.
But I’m not about being different or being the next Harry Potter. I want to write what’s in my heart. If there’s another Harry Potter type series in there, HEY, I’m all for it. But it has to be in my heart in order for me to write it. I see people who look at the MSWL on Twitter and go write whatever someone is looking for. They will no doubt get an agent. I applaud them for being able to do that. Write something that someone requests. I can’t do that. I wish I could. I’d probably have an agent. I begrudge them nothing. In fact, I’m envious.
But it’s not me.
It’s never been me.
I’ve always been someone who breaks tradition and really plays by her own rules, as long as no one got hurt. It really should be no surprise to anyone who knows me that I would just go my own route and self-publish. But I did struggle with the idea because I felt it was admitting defeat.
But it was admitting I believed in myself. I believed in my writing. I wasn’t going to set my value by someone else’s standard. Like Peggy Carter, I know my worth and it is greater than an industry telling me my story isn’t interesting enough.
The courage to finally do so came from a lovely, but an unexpected source and she keeps reaffirming my decision. It was a random video Evangeline Lilly posted on Instagram which got me thinking. In her video, she stated she self-published her own children’s book. And I thought, here it is, Evangeline Lilly. Hope van Dyne. The Wasp herself. She is promoting self-publishing. Well, if she can do it and be proud, then why can’t I?
So I did.
Just last week, she posted again about her book tour and the questions she received. In her note, she pointed out that if you wanted your book to be some great success, find out what the publishers want and write that. But if you wanted to write what was in your heart, let go of any market results. To quote her, “Gone are the days where publishers are just looking for good, incredibly written, compelling stories.” It is a hard lesson to learn, but she’s right. I learned that some time ago, but I was too stubborn. Publishers want what is not out there already. They want that fresh taste in their mouth, no matter how it is written. But I couldn’t give up, because I knew my book was well written, might not be fresh, but it was quality and I was proud of it. They would come to see. I wanted to prove them wrong.
But then I realized, the better way to prove them wrong is do it myself.
However, it’s going to be a long haul. It’s not going to be easy. But I’ve waited this long to publish. I am willing to wait for that delayed success. I just need to keep writing. Keep publishing. Follow my heart and all that I desire will find their way to me.
But do me a favor. If you are going to look at me smugly for self-publishing and have a condescending tone, don’t bother speaking. I’m proud of my work, just as I am proud of anyone else who sits down to write a novel and then publishes it. It is a difficult process and one which doesn’t get easier, no matter how long you are at it. How it gets in the reader’s hands doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it does.
No matter how you go about it, just write. You see, we as writers have the power to create what we want and publish it. It doesn’t matter if the industry wants it or not. We should be more concerned with what the reader wants, not the industry. If we focus on them, the success will come. We can make the industry change to what we want, if we recognize that we have the power to challenge them. Publish your work. Market it. Make them take notice. We can affect change, but we have to be willing to do so.
So write what you want, whether it is from your heart or from the MSWL. You don’t have to follow trends, but you can if you want. No one can dictate what you write and how you publish. Be courageous. Take risks. Do what you want. Don’t feel like you have to adhere to any one idea or trend. You don’t have to do what is popular or different or what might be regarded as bland or trite. Just write. Popularity will come. You just need to get that book in their hands.
Until next time…