It used to be that if you wrote a story and it appeared in book form, then you were published.
Okay, maybe it still is like that, except now there are qualifiers. The unspoken (and sometimes spoken) question is how were published?
It feels a bit like the battles I stepped into after my second child was born when I stopped working full-time and stayed home to raise children. The working mothers vs the stay-at-home moms. The assumptions flew both ways and were equally unfair and at times, ridiculous. We were all still doing the hard work of being mothers.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about traditional publishing and self-publishing. Many self-published authors prefer to be labeled ‘indie published’ but this is somewhat confusing to me because anyone traditionally published by an independent press (a press not owned by one the big 5 publishers—Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, or Simon & Schuster) is sometimes labeled ‘indie-published.’
I am published by one of these independent publishers, which if you know me, seems like a good fit. I’m all about Buy Local, Power to the People, Cut-out-the-fat-cats, etc. There’s much I like about being with an independent press. I like that things move more quickly than a big press (relatively). I like that I can pick up my phone and speak with my publisher right now if I want to. I like that my input is sought on things like cover art, review requests, and the narrator for the audio book. And I especially like that my input isn’t just sought, it’s valued.
What I don’t like especially about being indie-published, is this insinuation that because I’m not with one of the Big Five, my book is somehow less important or less of a book. I would imagine this frustration is increased tenfold for self-published authors.
But here’s what I’d like to ask the people looking down their noses at my path to publication or anyone’s path to publication—What have you written? Where might I find your book?
Writing a book, no matter how you go about it, is hard work. No, it’s more than that. It’s crazy-hard-exhausting-unending-soul wrenching-not sleeping-scary work. And once more it’s not just the story-telling piece, it’s everything else. It’s putting yourself out there- your heart, talent, brains, and pretty much your dirty underwear for all to see and judge and review and think not a moment about how many stars to give it.
Being published – any which way you go about it – is not for wimps. You have to have more than a little bit of bad-ass in your soul to do this. You can’t be afraid because fear will render you mute. You have to so believe in yourself and what you have to say that you’re willing to spend thousands (literally) of hours on your work and then offer it up and allow anyone (ANYONE!) to judge your writing and by extension- you.
So not only do you have to be bad ass, but you have to be brave and generous and humble and above all else – not take yourself too seriously. (Or if you must take yourself seriously, you have to refrain from ever reading a review about your writing.)
I started this post to share my waffling feelings about whether to go the traditional route or the self-publishing route with my new memoir (about fostering dogs, go figure!). But I digress.
Here’s the gist of what I’m trying to say, digression aside:
If you are a published author with a book out there,
however it got there,
you are my hero.
You did it.
And you deserve GREAT congratulations. What you’ve done is HUGE and very few people do it (although MANY talk about it).
So, you go girl/boy/person! You’re awesome. Write on.