Writing

Thoughts On Self-Publishing

Yes I write like a moron.

Yes I write like a moron.

Writing is a funny thing. Before you sit down with pen or hand or fingers at keyboard, any number of possibilities exist. The whole milieu of creation is yours to play with.

Once you begin however, the possibilities start to shrink, to become tangible and solid. And then, after reworking, and editing, and making sure you’ve put a semi-colon in the right; place, you let the text go.

Complete and constructed.

Fixed.

All of us who blog do it. We form the massless into cogency. Random thoughts that scitter-scatter their way onto a screen with the potential to reach millions. Some are funny, some are sad, some will make you pause and look wistfully into the middle-distance contemplating your own mortality and some will make you wonder if you can make that recipe tonight – it’s meatballs so yes, yes you can.

All words. All written. All by a writer.

But what I want to ask – and thought I’d answer by publishing a book – was, am I a writer.

And yes, I get that ‘technically’ I am because I write. And no, this isn’t a prepubescent-esque request for artistic affirmation. I don’t want you commenting below with ‘well I think you’re a good writer’. Quality is subjective. As are semi-colons.

;

If you’d requested my opinion before I published my book I would have said, someone who gets paid to write.

And then, if you’d have asked immediately after I’d put my book on the Kindle store, I would have said someone who is paid to write by someone other than their mum.

If asked at a party (utterly hypothetical, we have a baby and thus no social life) I could, based on the above criterion, say that I am a writer.

“Oh, exciting – what do you write?”

“Er, non-fiction mainly. You know…about being a dad…with jokes. I say, these canapés are delicious.”

“Oh right, well have you made any bestsellers lists?”

“No, not as such. Although for a brief while I was number two in Canada under the category of ‘fatherhood.'”

“That’s amazing! How many copies did you sell?”

“One.”

“One? You mean like one million?”

“No…I mean like one. It turns out that Canadians aren’t big readers of fatherhood books. As it stands at the moment I’m sixteenth, wedged between a book about a man who’s dying of cancer and leaves notes in his kids’ lunch box every day and a man who loves God so much he wrote a book about how yelling God into your children will stop them from being evil. Somehow my amusing little collection of funny baby and/or poo jokes just seems massively out of place.”

I suppose it is partly the fact that I chose to publish rather than waiting to be chosen. Whilst I don’t think the stigma of vanity exists in the way it used to with self-publishing, there isn’t that level of affirmation that comes with someone selecting your work and backing it as a viable way of making money.

Despite all of the calls of eBook self-publishing revolutionising and democratising the publishing industry, the big publishers will still be the go-to places for work that is of a high standard. A filter for the growing noise of the mob.

A publisher’s badge will, ever increasingly, become a marque of quality.

Perhaps that is the point at which I will feel like a writer proper. When I have a penguin stamped in the corner of the cover.

For now, I suppose I will use some form of contrastive focus reduplication and say that at a stretch yes, I’m a writer but I’m not a writer writer.

And I’m perfectly happy with that.

;;;


My book remains on sale from now until the end of recorded time. Don’t face the apocalypse without it! Buy now!

 

 

 

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25 thoughts on “Thoughts On Self-Publishing

  1. Interesting to think about how self-publishing fits in with the concept of a post-Fordist society – at least it is while you’re waiting for the dishwasher to finish.

    You can only hope that the cream really does get to rise. Failing that, I still have a lecture about “pebbles and beaches” to fall back on (junior school, 1973).

    I have to say, though, I’ve come across a couple of bona fide self-published atrocities, which you’d laugh at if you weren’t afraid of karmic pay-back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! I would contemplate the current state of modern capitalism vs. the Keynesian ideal but the kettle’s just boiled.

      I’d like to think that cream does float to the top and endeavour to make myself as creamy as possible. Unfortunately there is a lot of guff out there clogging up the internet. Can/will quality shine through. I certainly hope so.

      I suppose it isn’t just self-publishing. Dan Brown writes awful books, EL James is cringing and don’t get me started on the Twilight series. Even the first Harry Potter book isn’t any great shakes when it comes to quality of writing (Rowling improved massively over time).

      Luckily I don’t believe in karma so laugh away my friend 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’ll often hear it said that capitalism has entered a whole new phase, and has morphed into quite a different wee beastie, with the rise of the mega-corporations, a bit like when you start to look at matter at the quantum level, Newtonian physics stops making sense.

        Yes, the interwebs does indeed have a very high signal to noise ratio. Unfortunately, that means that you have to stand on a table and shout “wooo-hooo – look at me!” into a very powerful megaphone. It’s all very un-British, isn’t it, and far too close to that most heinous of misdemeanours, showing off…

        The sainted Joanne, hmmmm. I think she was off sick when they “did” narrative, wasn’t she. Still, I wouldn’t mind being a couple of quid behind her…

        Like

  2. I still have a hard time telling people I am a writer even though I have actual sales (with reviews) by actual people I’ve neither met, gifted, or paid. One of these days I might be more comfortable with it. Perhaps it will be when I have several titles with my name on my bookshelf at home and not just the dozen proof samples I had to reject due to the cover being trimmed completely wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It seems to be the dream that we all strive for that you’ve attained. Well done 🙂

      It’s interesting that you mentioned the rejection of your cover and have “a dozen proof samples” – I think that self-publishing as the vast majority do it (and I certainly did) involves a lot of ‘one man shows’. There’s no bouncing ideas around trying to get it right.

      That, in itself, is a key thing missing from the self-publishing route. Even if you do get a proof-reader to check it, they won’t be as invested as you and your publisher. They will still get paid however well or badly you sell. However good or ropey the cover looks.

      Thanks for your thoughts and apologies for the dissertation in response 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great article, I wrote my first ‘book’ at age 11, almost got published at 28 and have ‘sat on’ my desires to scribble since, convinced I’m just not in the right circles/have the right face/am self delusional! However, I’m in my 50’s now and I’m buggered if I’m going to listen to my personal Jiminy Cricket anymore…self publication is my raison d’etre this year and if I sell one to Canada I’ll be thrilled! lol 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do it! Please! And tell people you’ve done it.

      I published my book and then didn’t mention it to anyone I knew in real life apart from a couple of very close friends. They then made me tell everyone and the response was amazing. Including my colleagues who are very literate. Asking someone who has an MA in Japanese literature to read your book is actually very scary.

      It is a very difficult thing putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper and then asking people to read it, especially when they know you. But it is brilliant when they do.

      And if I ever doubt myself I always say my favourite quote “Ships are safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.”

      Good luck and let me know when you’ve done it. I’ll buy a copy 🙂

      Like

  4. There are self-published authors who have found big success and so I suppose they feel like writers. I’m not sure if it has to do with publishing companies or not. I mean, you could have a Penguin and still no one is buying. Or worse, you have the Penguin, no one bought and the Penguin decided to drop you like your hot.

    Sigh.

    Like

  5. Totally dig this post. I am in the process of writing a book, even though I don’t consider myself a writer writer. What is so silly about this, is that I can easily see the “writer” in others, or the “artist”, or whatever it may be, but when comes to thinking of myself as a writer… nope. Not yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I self published as well so I totally understand. I do think the market is changing. I liken self publishing to independent film which gets respect. Some pieces are great, some are jokes. But I hope the stigma goes away (for better or worse 50 Shades started out as self published fan fiction for Twilight). The thing I look to is, I had an idea and I wanted to get it out before I die. One accomplishment on my list o things to do is done. But I am continuing to write and will seek an agent but I learned a lot in the process.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think it’s fabulous that you self-published; brave, ambitious and wise (am having doubts about my semicolon use).

    I think with writing, it’s easy to move the goalposts for yourself. So
    1) I will start a blog – should I start it? Will it be read?
    2) blog is doing well, I want to be published elsewhere though.
    3) get published elsewhere, but I’m not getting paid / getting paid a lot / regularly…

    And so it goes on! There’s got to be a point though, sonewhere in between writing a diary and being on the best seller list that we accept ourselves as writers and have a little ‘I’m achieving something here’ moment. I know I need to do that sometimes too 🙂

    PS – love your Canada story!

    Like

    • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. We constantly shift the goals of what we want to achieve making desired successes ever larger as the previous target is hit. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, as long as some perspective is kept.

      I think I should just focus on the fact that it was fun to do and people bought and liked what I wrote.

      Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the encouragement. Also ;

      Like

  8. A friend self-published her book, but she’s lucky enough to have sisters, so she sold three copies. I’ve published traditionally, but I always feel like there’s another hurdle I have to vault before I get to consider myself a real writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny that you say there’s another hurdle. Perhaps there always is one in our minds.

      Maybe when my writing affords me the ability to buy a giant house. Or a house. Or a house shaped pudding. Or a pudding.

      Like

      • …or a packet of mints….

        I’ve read about famous writers–you know, the ones who make a decent living out of their books–who still feel unrecognized because they didn’t win the Nobel, or the Whatever. So yeah, it’s got to be in our minds.

        Liked by 1 person

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