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'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)


Deniz Bevan said...

Hear hear Jen! I've read more self-published books this past year than I ever had before and some are definitely traditionally-published quality. Others, well... but there were always books like that (authorhouseanyone?).

J.L. Murphey said...

Well said Jen! There are a lot of reasons why an author self-publishes and it's more than a vanity press issue.

For me, if I have to do all the PR/marketing anyhow on my dime, I might as well self-publish. I also have limitations right now that have nothing to do with my my husband's cancer.

I want control over my life and not told where and when to be somewhere.

Yes, they may have circumvented NY and the big 6 by self publishing.

Yes, some might be trash, but then I've seen standard published novels which were trash and full of errors.

I felt like you for a lot of years, but last year I started researching indie publishing. While I might not make best seller, I do well enough to pay my bills AND be creative which is all I really need. Indie authors may not put the brick and mortar stores out of business, I hope not I love them, but it is the future.

I wish you much success honey. I know how hard you've worked.

Simon Haynes said...

You see a lot of noise about the coming flood of self-pubbed novels, but the market and book buyers will handle it just fine: gems will be unearthed, discussed and shared, and the rest will sink beneath the waves.
Nobody can force a lousy book onto bestseller lists, nor earn it hundreds of 4- and 5- star reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. You can't generate word of mouth with an unfinished, unpolished novel.
If you can plot and write a decent novel, and you employ a professional editor/cover artist/jacket designer, there's no reason you can't self-publish a title which stands against anything from the big six.
And don't forget, the vast majority of trade published books disappear within weeks or months of release. At least if you self-publish you'll never go out of print.

Jennifer Hendren said...


Yes, exactly. I've been reading a ton as well, and there is definitely a range in quality. But that also exists in the traditional world. As with anything else, you have to cull through everything until you find something you like.

Jennifer Hendren said...

Thank you very much, Jo.

I think your reasons for self-publishing are just spot-on. Sometimes you simply can't work around someone else's schedule. I don't know, but for me that adds an extra layer of pressure that I'm not sure I can handle at this particular time in my life.

It's strange, but I find myself working much harder now than I ever have before. I think part of that comes from knowing it's ALL on me. (Oh yeah, and that little thing named luck. (g)) But ultimately, I know I'm the one in control, and quite frankly, my boss is kind of a beeyotch. :) Hmm, I may have to explore that in a full post. lol


Jennifer Hendren said...


Hear, hear!

What's that old song.. Anything you can do, I can do better... (g)
(One hopes)

And you touch on a very good point. The cream really does rise to the top. I've heard epublishing referred to as the new slush pile. I guess the one difference being that the readers are now the so-called gatekeepers. I think that's fantastic.