I went to my senior prom stag, mostly because I didn’t know any boys to ask. Lucky for me, I went to an all-girls school, so going solo was taken as a sign of independence. But now I find that, as an unpublished author-in-waiting, it’s high school all over again. Except now I’m waiting for someone to ask me to the dance (an agent/publisher to call) and if they don’t, the question is – if I go stag (self-publish) will it be seen by the industry as a sign of independence or a sign that I wasn’t good enough to be asked?
I read a fascinating article by the Los Angeles Review of Books the other day on why self-published authors don’t get reviewed by newspaper papers, trade magazines, etc. In it, a traditionally-published author suggested that before she was established “I didn’t think I could call myself a writer if I paid someone else to publish my stuff.” I had to read the statement twice, then check it again to make sure it was a grown-person saying it. When all was confirmed, I sat back and thought, “Wow…what a mind job.” Before she gave self-publishing a try - in her world – you were only a writer if someone else said so.
That’s just way too much power to put in someone else’s hands. Even if I never publish a thing, I am a writer. Before, I was sheepish about saying it, but after reading that article I realized that I don’t want to approach my career in writing like a 17 year old girl hoping to be asked to the prom. Even though it feels like the Wild Wild West in publishing these days and I have no idea how my efforts to publish traditionally will pan out, I know I have to believe in my own work first. Whatever happens, who I am and what I do has to start and end with me.
If you’re out there, thanks for reading!