Mark Twain. John Grisham. Walt Whitman. Richard Paul Evans. Beatrix Potter. Edgar Allan Poe. T.S. Elliot. Carl Sandberg. Deepak Chopra. Upton Sinclair. D.H. Lawrence. George Bernard Shaw. e.e. cummings. Henry David Thoreau. Virginia Woolf. Margaret Atwood. Tom Clancy. Stephen Crane.
What do all of these successful writers have in common? At one time or another–most to begin their career–these authors self-published their work. They were unknown and rejected by the traditional publishers of their day. Believing in their own talent, they invested time and money into their work. It paid off, and we both celebrate and show gratitude for their contributions.
So, why is it that authors feel such angst about self-publication?
Is it because bookstores refuse to stock their books? Or, that reviewers will not read them? Could it simply be the reluctance to self-promote? I mean, isn’t writing the book enough? Why must I have to sell it, too?
I have to admit that I have struggled with this. Should I keep sending query letters and sample chapters? What does the rejection letter really mean…what it not good or truly not what they were looking for at the time? Did it even get past the intern who opens the mail? Then it occurs to me that even if it was accepted, how much time and money will they devote to me, an unknown author? Will I just languish in the background and be no more promoted than I am now?
At what point do I just get it out there? I mean, I wrote the book so someone would read it. Why not publish it? Especially in today’s world of POD (print-on-demand) and eBooks where upfront costs are little to nothing and no book stock is required, it is easy for someone to see his/her labor of love in print and have it widely available. Someone has said that anyone today can write (publish) a book, and I guess that is true.
I believe the greatest part of the turmoil for me has been the need for validation as I think it is for other writers. We want that stamp of approval from someone who matters. It is not enough that our sister likes it or our neighbor. We want to know that someone who doesn’t love us loves the book. Does that make sense? We need that objective, cruel stranger to fall in love with it. And, it is hard to promote yourself when you don’t know if there are a lot of those people out there. What if it truly is a book only a mother would love?