Sunday, January 16, 2011

Point of View on Self-Publishing

As I have done lately, my own life being quite comfortably boring, I looked to the Sunday newspaper for this week’s blog inspiration. I opted to disregard the Sunday column that totes another banner for us Boomers who are turning 65 this year by the droves. Old hat news which only serves to make me feel really old. While 65 is a milestone that I’ll be delighted to reach, it’s not the pinnacle, or so I hope, of my life and what I still hope to achieve: becoming a published novelist.

But what I still hope to achieve is rapidly becoming passé and that saddens me as well as depresses me. I am referring to the article in today’s newspaper about e-books and well-known and respected novelists preferring to self-publish. This isn’t new news. I’ve read about it before (and chose to forget that I did) and I’ve had discussions with a friend or two who knew this was coming. I chose to disagree with them. Today the multi-columned article about authors abandoning publishing houses and self-publishing instead wormed its way into my reality which is now being challenged.

I’m of the age where self-publishing, vanity presses as we boomers know it, was the avenue a writer took when all other roads were too bumpy or too hard to navigate, i.e., those whose work didn’t cut the mustard so to speak. Call it what is was and still is for some of us—writer snobbery. I’m not ashamed of it. I received way too many rejections from publishers and editors because my work wasn’t what they wanted or wasn’t good enough for them. I’m proud of those rejections because of the euphoric high I got when I’d finally received those acceptances for that short story or a creative nonfiction piece. The rejections made me want to write better, made me determined to keep trying, and in turn, made me succeed. In other words, whenever I got an acceptance, I’d earned it. My writing had been better than good. You don’t get that validation when you self-publish.

For those novelists who’ve already proved their work’s worth, if they are writing purely for money and their egos are so secure that they don’t need to fear their work isn’t as good as it could be, maybe self-publishing is the right path for them to go. I also realize that there are those successful writers who choose the self-publishing route to make their books more affordable to their readers. That’s a good thing. But I’m not in that writers league, so if I ever get that novel or memoir published, I want to know it was because someone else besides me and my friends recognized that it was worthy of the publishing investment and that I earned that advancement check.

P.S. The Cardinal is back at my window this morning doing his best to get my attention. I learned from my dear niece that seeing a Cardinal in winter is a blessing. Since he only shows up for certain blogs, maybe this is a sign that I should finish this last novel that I’ve been working on.

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