From the moment I started novel writing, my goal has been to become a published author. But it’s only over the past couple of years that I realised what I really meant was, I wanted to be published by one of the “big five” publishers. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. Most writers, for a long time, will have had the same goal in mind. Self publishing was for those who “failed” at being accepted by the big five. Self publishing was dirty, and the big five were the only goal that any “serious writer” should be aiming for, with small presses falling somewhere in the middle of the scale.
Then came the breakthrough of e-book self publishing. More and more people were able to get their work out there without needing to go through any publishing house, not just the giants. And with that came an overwhelming amount of bad writing – not all of it, possibly not even most of it, but enough that it still kept self publishing as an entity to be shunned by those “serious writers” with their serious goals. Big name authors, and the big five, were vocal in bashing the self published ebooks, saying they were drowing out the “real” talent and should be shunned accordingly. That alone should have been a warning bell for us all, that a publisher would be denouncing a technological advancement in publishing. But, I still held onto my goal of being published by one of the big five. That goal was the ultimate in writer goals, the dream of all dreams…
But recently I’ve been rethinking all of that. I’ll start off by saying I’m not a big reader of ebooks. Not because I think of them as lesser things, but because I love holding a paper book in my hands. E-readers just aren’t the same as feeling the crisp paper as you turn a page, running your fingers over the cover to feel the shiny and matt finishes, with raised lettering of the title. There’s something intimate about it, a softness that ereaders just don’t have. I’ve never been against ebooks for everyone else, but for me they just aren’t at a point yet to compete with the comforting feeling of reading a paper book. And I think that had a lot to do with my mindset about self publishing for a while, because I want my work to be available in print format as well as being an ebook, and the only way I could see that being feesable was through the major publishing houses.
But that isn’t true any more.
My focus and drive for my writing has been wavering, ever since I started to wonder more about self publishing vs submitting my work to agents and publishers (when the time comes for that). My goal of becomming a published author was wavering because really I’d been thinking “become a published author through one of the big five publishers”. Every self publishing success story, every article or blog post that talked about the advances in self publishing, had shaken my goal without me realising it. But it’s only today that I realised: I haven’t been doubting my goal overall, I’ve just been doubting if traditional publishing is really the way to go.
As I said, I want my work to be available in paper as well as ebook format, and the doubt surrounding the paper side of things from a self publishing point of view had made my goal uncertain. Not because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be published – I still want that – but because I wasn’t sure how I want to be published, because I didn’t have all the information about both options. Well, now I have a lot more information and it’s really helped my goal become a firm point in my mind. No wavering, no uncertainty. I know I want to be published. But now I realise that no matter which way I decide to go – traditional or self publication – I don’t have to “settle” for anything. You can publish print books as well as ebooks through self publication, and on the flip side of that some authors are starting to retain their e-rights through the big five publishers.
Self publishing isn’t the lesser form of publishing. A self published author can take charge of their work, and not settle for second best when it comes to paper books, marketing and distribution to brick-and-mortar stores. Things have changed in the world of publishing, and people’s outlooks are changing as well as their buying habits. It’s important for us as writers to get all the information we can so that our goals can be unwavering, and our focus devoted to writing (and editing!) the best books we can.
I’ll talk about the different research that I’ve done, and my findings, on future blog posts. And more importantly, keep working on my first draft so that I can get to the stage of reaching my now firmly planted goal!