Friday, September 30, 2011
I'm Legits, Yo!
So, self-publishing. Be honest. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear someone is self-published? I'll tell you what I thought just a year ago. I thought:
1. The person couldn't make it the traditional way. They obviously tried and failed to gain a publishing contract and now they're doing the only thing they can do. They're putting out their book themselves. It may be okay, but if NYC rejected it, how good could it really be?
2. The person thinks they're above the "establishment" of traditional publishing. You know the type--I think we all do. (g) The one who has a book that they don't think NYC will "get." So rather than waste their time trying to edumacate the populace at large about how really ahead of their time they are, they're going to bypass NYC altogether and do it themselves.
3. With the number of epublished books on the market today, obviously people aren't taking the time to really perfect their books. They're putting out mediocre work as fast as they can in order to turn a buck.
And the big one:
4. If you self-publish, you're not LEGITS.
This is the point I want to focus on in this post. I know that I've felt this way--still do, to some degree--because there is a reigning opinion out there that you have to get the proverbial nod from NYC in order to MAKE IT. You may never sell well--you may wallow at the bottom of your house's list for the rest of your life--but you got 'the nod'... validation that you're talented because an agent plucked you out of the riff-raff and by God, your book has actually sat on a shelf in a brick and mortar. You made it...you're the cream that's floated to the top of the publishing world.
True story. I once heard a well-known young adult author refer to a self-published author as "another wannabe" who was giving young adult a bad name. (Something about the storyline, which sounded spot-on for a little known book named LOLITA.) Therefore, reducing this author to a second rate hack who obviously couldn't contain one iota of talent in his/her body. I don't believe this author had actually READ this person's work, mind, but because he/she was self-published, obviously this had to be true. Sort of makes you want to grind your teeth, doesn't it? This author was confronted and later apologized. I might have had something to do with it.... (vbg)
My point being--there's a stigma when you self-publish.
Is it changing? Yes. But I think it will always be there to some degree. Mostly because we've all dreamed of the big publishing contract--I know I have. And if the house of my dreams extended a huge offer tomorrow, it would be DANG hard to pass it up. I want, I want... but that does not mean I NEED. So yeah, my own attitude is part of the problem. OUR attitude is part of the problem.
A friend put it so well the other day. We've stopped caring about the work--we only think about how that work is being delivered to the world.
NYC Contract = GOOD.
Self-published = NOT QUITE AS GOOD...likely mediocre, at best... probably terrible.
Excuse me, but I call BULLSHIT.
In both worlds, you're going to find a hodge podge of work. Some good, some bad...some total crap. That doesn't mean that we can judge either group as better than the other. So, let's not, okay? Judge a book after you've actually read it. Whether it's on a shelf at B&N or if you downloaded it for a buck from Amazon.
Me? I'm still trying to work through my own bias. People have urged me to do a round of queries..just to see. But ultimately, I decided not to go down that road. I realized--after MUCH heming and hawing--that I don't have to have a nod from NYC. I don't.
I don't think I'm better than them... I think I'm just as good.
Some people may not agree, but ultimately I'm putting it into readers' hands. The proof will or will not be in the pudding. I just hope that people will look beyond what channels my book went through to get into their hands, and judge the book by what's actually between the covers.
Simple enough, right? Riiiight. :)
But Yo, I'm LEGITS! I am! (g)