Hi friends, let me tell you a story.
A month ago, I had the AMAZING opportunity to participate in a panel at my beloved Alma mater, Barnard College. I was so excited when I was invited- it was like a dream come true! (Me at Barnard writing/publishing panel!) Now I hate that this story has a ‘but’… but it does.
The panel was about publishing in today’s world, and I was in a tricky position. I was the token self-published author, and some people there made it pretty clear that they looked waaay down on that. And if that weren’t enough… I had published through Amazon. The other panelists viewed Amazon as the big bad wolf, stealing clients and customers from them. And like any good person, I empathized! Which is fine, I mean, I’m proud of being an empathic person. But… and here’s that ‘but’ again… empathic quickly turned into apologetic, and that? That I’m not proud of.
I found myself saying, well, I had tried to publish traditionally, and it wasn’t my fault Amazon was taking over and traditional publishing was dying, and… by the time I left, I felt like I had come across as completely insecure. It sucked.
I turned to a virtual mentor of mine, Marie Forleo, who, right around that time, had put out this video, as if she had known I’d need it: Marie’s fix-it video.
She suggested being proactive, and creating the chance for yourself to make it right. So I’m following her advice, and telling you what’s on my mind: I think that last month, I came across crazy insecure. What I really meant to say was…
I KICK ASS.
I am glad I self-published… self publishing was exactly right for me with this book. I am glad I had the guts and brains to utilize the amazing tool called Amazon and their publishing company Create Space, which let me do what traditional publishing would have been too pompous to let me do… publish my words, my own damn way. And what’s more, I have a confession: I didn’t try very hard to get published traditionally.
I sent queries to a few agents- maybe four or five, which, as anyone in publishing will tell you, is basically the same as not having sent any at all! Why did I stop so soon? Because I sensed something very quickly: if anyone else had a stake in this book, they’d require me to compromise on the truth that I needed to communicate. And I wasn’t going to let that happen.
When you get down to it, my book is about freeing yourself from the burden of wanting other people’s approval. It’s about being you, even and especially at your weirdest and most unique. And, true to form, my book is not like any other book you’ve read. It does not adhere to many of the norms that many agents and publishers would try to impose. However, it does follow the ideas expressed beautifully by Etgar Keret here… radical ideas such as, “write like yourself”– what a concept! See, I didn’t censor myself when I wrote this book. Don’t get me wrong, I (with the help of people I trust) edited the hell out of this thing. But the way I wrote it was an expression of the reason I was writing it: to use my own voice, without tailoring that voice to what others want to hear. I also felt that writing it my way could encourage others to do the same: to share your truth however the hell it wants to be shared.
I know self-publishing still has something of a stigma… it may be considered vain, or maybe not as ‘legit’ (and by the way, neither of these things are necessarily true- self publishing is what you make of it). But I chose to self publish despite- or in fact, specifically because of the stigma. I forced myself to face the music- to face the threat of disapproval and judgment, and to laugh in its face. I forced myself to feel the fear and do it anyhow. Because my book, The Gods She Chose, isn’t only the journey of Ayala, the protagonist, trying to defy expectations and be herself… it’s my journey, too.