By Erica Crouch
I’m a self-published author. Saying this elicits a number of responses—some good, some indifferent, some that induces a severe case of Liz Lemon-style eye-rolling. Funnily enough, there are even those that ask something along the lines of, “Do you hate/are you jealous of/do you wish you were a traditionally published author(s)?”
The answer to those pointed questions is no, I don’t hate them; sure, sometimes I’m jealous (who isn’t??); and no, I do not wish I had traditionally published any of my novels. I made choices that made sense for me, my novels, and my career. One day, I might make a different choice. Besides, even though we went down different paths for publication, we’re not all that different.
Here are five things self-published authors wish traditional published authors knew:
- This wasn’t a last resort. I consciously chose to self-publish my book. It wasn’t because I “couldn’t hack it” in the traditional publishing world. I weighed the pros and cons of both sides, and it just so happened that the pros of self-publishing (creative control and greater royalty share, for example) outweighed the pros of traditional publishing.
- Not all self-published books are poorly edited/terribly written. Ugh, this prejudice kills me, especially since I put in a lot of effort writing/revising and then hand it off to beta readers before my manuscript even makes it to an editor (whom I’d trust with my life, by the way). That’s not to say that all self-published books are gold—they’re not. But self-published authors writing as a career take the steps necessary to publish something—ideally—indistinguishable from a traditionally published title.
- We hate spam as much as the next guy. Another bad rap self-published authors get is polluting the interwebs with a slew of self-promotional spam. Some people over do it big time, but the smart authors know that pummeling followers with a thousand hashtags and links is exhausting and annoying—definitely not worth whatever return they may or may not see. We, like traditionally published authors, understand there’s a code of conduct when it comes to reviews, promotion, and interacting online with readers (or potential readers). I won’t email you out of the blue asking for a glowing review because that’s five kinds of shady, and seven kinds of irritating.
- We don’t hate the traditional publishing world. Speaking as a whole, I’d like to say that most indies admire the traditional publishing world. We take a lot of our cues from them! But we also don’t overlook the flaws—when we see imperfections in the process, we ask “how can we improve this” and then start experimenting. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But really, why would we want to wage a war with fellow writers? A rising tide lifts all ships, or however that saying goes.
- Just because we self-published doesn’t mean we will only self-publish. There seems to be this idea that once you self-publish a book, you’ve locked yourself in a box. You are now a SELF! PUBLISHED! AUTHOR! The truth of the matter is, there are many authors who’ve decided to traditionally publish a novel after self-publishing a few, or vice versa. Hybrid authors are great—don’t erase them.
Just like there is no “more correct” way to write a novel, there is no “more correct” way to publish. What works for you may or may not work for me. I don’t think I’m better than you because I self-publish, and I don’t think traditionally published authors are better than me. We’re just different. And that’s cool!
It’s important to keep an open mind and to realize that whatever publishing road you take is no higher or lower than the next. Do what’s best for you, and support those who choose something else. We’re all authors, after all; at the end of the day, we’re still sitting around talking to imaginary friends and rationalizing these conversations by putting them to paper. As long as you’re putting out work you’re proud of, nothing else matters.
Erica is the self published author of books such as Surviving First Drafts; Madly, Deeply; and the Ignite series. She is also the co-founder of Patchwork Press and a member of the YA Wordnerds. If you’re interested in learning more about Erica, checkout her website.