I remember when I first heard of the idea of self-publishing. In the late 80’s it was still a theory or prediction, but it was an exciting one. Desktop publishing loomed as a possibility for anyone and everyone with a home computers and I was enthralled with the idea of creativity without gatekeepers. We were told it will be possible to create your own music, movies, professional photographs and print work and get it out to the public. It seems so mundane and obvious now, but the idea was truly freeing and revolutionary.
I didn’t grow up in a ‘if you can dream it you can do it’ kind of world. People who dreamed of doing something big were usually told to grow up, get a dose of reality and stop wasting time on artsy-fartsy stuff – unless you want to live in a cardboard box on the side of the road for the rest of your life. While I loved the idea of a creative revolution, it didn’t seem to apply to me. That was until I hit my mid-life crazy and decided I wanted to join the revolution.
I tell you all this background now so you will understand how excited and committed I am to the self-publishing revolution. As I have gotten more involved with the online community of authors I was surprised at the number who may be self-published right now, but only until a publisher comes along to deem them “a real writer.” In a way I get it. It wasn’t that long ago that the only way to be a writer was to have your work smiled upon by the gods of the traditional publishing industry. If that happened, it was a HUGE accomplishment and the writer could bask in the glow of being one of the lucky few.
Would I like to have that glow? Not really. (Liar, some of you hiss). It means so much more to me to be part of this revolution. The only draw a publishing house had for me was an editor and marketing. While a company-supplied editor would still be nice, I’ve learned that the marketing machine is reserved for the use of those at the top (an executive bathroom privilege of sorts). New authors are asked to show up with tens of thousands of followers on self-created social media platforms. If I’m going to create that on my own, I might as well keep going and do it all myself. I’m not even sure how I would get all those followers before publishing my first book. It looks like the current formula is for an author to self-publish, build a following, then present themselves at the publishing house alter to humbly ask to be called an author.
I get that it’s lonely and scary to do all this alone. My ratio of scared-s**tless to confident days is still running around 30/70. But the same social media that puts me in touch with readers is also connecting me with other writers and a boat-load of resources to make it all so much easier.
I’m in this for so much more than just sharing my work right now. I want to see where this revolution goes. I want to see how the world changes for other potential authors, people who were told that their dream of writing was a one-way ticket to disappointment and abstract poverty. It’s not easy and most of us have to work more than one job to get started, but being part of something so huge and empowering is worth it to me.
So to all the book bloggers, reviewers, #amwriting tweeters, Goodreads Indie author supporters, writing coaches, and yes, even Amazon; I say thank you – and vive la revolution!