Warning: this is a rant. The original title was “Why your whining behind needs to self-publish and stop crying about how you can’t get an agent or publisher ‘cause don’t nobody wanna hear that mess, especially with all the tools and technology now available to help you get your story to market with no damn middle man.”
But it was too long.
Look. I get it. Some writers dream about being offered a publishing contract. New York Times Best sellerdom. The six figure advance. Validation that someone other than you, your mama, and your cousin Big Mookie thinks you can write. I. Get. It.
But, baaaybee. There comes a point in life when we need to stop begging to be let into the party and create our own party.
Is that meant to disparage, belittle, or minimize any person looking to be published traditionally? Nope. Same destination, different journey. As a matter of fact, if you’re a friend of mine (or want to be a friend of mine) who is traditionally published, when you get that big advance, it would be totally kind of you to let your girl hold something.
Here’s a novel (no pun intended) thought: if you’ve been trying to get published traditionally and haven’t gotten any takers, maybe it doesn’t mean that you’re not a good writer. Maybe it just means that you’re meant to take a different route.
Or, hey; maybe your book sucks! And if that’s the case neither traditional nor self-publishing is for you. But how do you know if your book sucks? I’ve made it easy for you to figure out with my super easy checklist below. If any of the following scenarios sound familiar, then you, my friend, just won yourself a free blowtorch, courtesy of the CABS (Citizens Against Books That Suck).
So here we go!
- Every time you send out a query letter, there’s a roll of thunder and flash of lightening. Maybe the weather’s just bad in your neighborhood. Or maybe God is trying to tell you something.
- You send out your manuscript to beta readers and they disappear without a trace. But not just some regular disappearing; their voicemail now says, “The beta reader you are trying to reach is no longer accepting your calls. Goodbye.”
- You find out that your writing group has been meeting without you.
- Literary agents send you a “cease and desist” letter instead of a standard rejection.
- As a kid, the dog ate your homework. But now, even Fluffy won’t eat your mess of a novel. In fact, when he sees you with your book, he plays dead.
- Every time you type “The End” at the conclusion of your novel, it rains. This is no coincidence. God is crying tears of joy.
- Lovers of Twilight fan fiction snicker when you walk by.
- Your significant other sat you down for the “It’s not you, it’s your manuscript” talk.
- You let your mama read your book. And then she slapped you.
- Publishers call you at 2 in the morning like:
All jokes aside, you guys, I totally understand that some of us want that traditional publishing credit to our name, but please don’t let not getting traditionally published deflate you to the point that you stop believing in yourself. Just because you didn’t get an agent or publisher doesn’t mean you aren’t good. And just because someone got an agent or a publisher doesn’t mean that they are any better than you.
What if you wrote the best book you could write and got the chance to connect with readers that love it? Oh, that’s right; you can! It’s called self-publishing. It’s up to you whether or not you’re going to sit at home and wait for the phone to ring (or for a “yes” from an agent or publisher) or if you’re going to write the best stories you can and get them out no matter the process.
Don’t believe me? Here are some Indie Pub All Stars, in no particular order. And if you’re saying to yourself, “Yeah, but their situation is not the norm and I probably won’t be as successful as they are because I’m too busy being a pessimist,” I want you to raise your right hand quickly and swing it as hard as you can against your forehead.
New York Times Bestselling author Terry Mcmillan self-published her first book, Mama. Many of her books have been made into movies, including the smash hit Waiting to Exhale that starred the late great Whitney Houston.
Alan Weir self-published The Martian. Anybody seen the Hollywood movie starring Matt Damon???
Kimberly Lawson Roby has been on more bestsellers lists that I can count. She self-published her debut novel nearly 20 years ago and has gone on to sell over 2 million copies of her books. As a matter of fact, my sister from another mister, author Faith Simone, just blogged about seeing her speak recently. If you need an extra dose of inspiration today, be sure to check that out.
Imagine what would have happened if none of these authors believed in themselves enough to take the leap!