Self-doubt, self-publishing, and other selfish writer-isms. This blog post by Eric John Baker is worth a read not just for the post itself, but also for the comments. The debate of traditional vs self-publishing is still raging, only now I think with more nuance. Not only is it easier to produce hard copies of our novels, poems, and stories, but there are also more venues for selling your work than there were just a few years ago (think: Amazon, Smashwords). Writers aren’t stuck with the old vanity presses that took your $$$ and gave you a printout with a cardboard cover in return. Each route has its downside, though, and deciding which way to go is tricky. Getting picked up by a traditional publisher can take years, even with an agent. Sending out submissions can be time-consuming, costly (postal fees), and deflating (as when the number of rejections you get equal the number of submissions you’ve sent). Self-publishing might be less expensive (relative to postal fees of submissions) and quicker, but then who is going to market your book, who is going to make it sell? Then again, even in traditional publishing, writers are expected to go on book tours. They might have help with their itineraries, perhaps some of their travel expenses are reimbursed. But they are the ones selling their books, they are the ones doing the hawking. Getting published by a traditional press might give a writer a bit more “legitimacy,” but the writer still has to put as much if not more work into the process, especially post-publication when the book is suppose to sell and make the publisher a lot of money.
I suspect that eventually I will self-publish. I’m not a patient person generally, and I’m getting less patient as I get older. I am easily dismayed by rejection letters (especially form letters). And I’m an introvert, a shy, sensitive introvert. Not the person you want to send on a book tour. I won’t give up entirely on traditional publishing. I can still keep submitting and hope that the rejection letters eventually become more personalized. But given the short time-frame I have before me, the best I can hope for is to bring a novel or collection of short stories to a point where it is ready for prime-time (meaning I will employ a professional editor) and then self-publish and, in my own quiet way, spread the news and hope for the best. And the best might be the two or three total strangers who pay to read my book. And that will be okay.