Ernest Hemingway:

As Ernest Hemingway once said...
'All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.'

Monday, May 21, 2012


"Why don't you just self-publish?"

I can't begin to count the number of times I've been asked this question.  Mostly it's from industry outsiders.  I get it.  After all, it can be done with the click of a button (plus some time spent formatting).  And, it seems everyone is doing it.

If everyone else is doing it, I might as well too, right?  Wrong.  You saw that coming though, didn't you?

Here's the thing.  Of course I've thought about self-publishing.  I might even do it, in the future.  But not my first novel.  Here's why:
  1. Just because something is easy doesn't mean it should be done.  Take talking, for example.  For most of us, talking is super easy.  But as I've learned the hard way a time or two (or a thousand), there's a time and a place for everything.  Same with self-publishing.
  2. I freak out just giving my novel to readers, or sending out a query, or submitting online.  Actually uploading my baby and putting it out there for the world to see?  Might be the end of my existence via explode heart.  And finding an error after putting it out there?  Soul-crushing.
  3. I'm thinking about my first finished novel right now.  And trying to control the squirrel running around in my midsection.  It's so terrible that I'm embarrassed about sharing it with only a select few (apologies to them).  But when I finished it?  I thought it was the best thing ever written.  Certainly it was going to sell and make me famous.  To think that I might have self-published it and that it might still be out there somewhere for anyone to see is horrifying.
  4. Here's the thing though.  I've thought that about every novel (there are currently five finished on my flash drive now - finished, not ready).  Good for me, right?  I clearly have faith in myself.  At the same time, I clearly possess no expertise in when a novel is ready to go, as I've yet to sell one (the reason for this is not lost on me - they're terrible, and need a ton of work).  And this leads directly into the reason I will not self publish my first novel.
Because there are people out there - industry professionals - who do this for a living.  Until I sell a novel (which will happen this year - goals, folks) - I'm going to leave it up to them to decide, whether it be an agent or a publishing house.  With every major breakthrough (this happens like once a month - no joke) I think I'm ready, only to learn with the next breakthrough that I'm so not.

I've learned more from submitting to houses and agents and receiving feedback than from anything else - how-to books, critiquing, how-to blogs, or reading in general.  So I'll keep doing it.  Because that's the only way I'm going to get better.  One of these days someone will give in and take me on, if for no other reason than I've just plain worn them down.  That's not true though.  I'm very careful about submissions and not doing it too often.  But it will happen, I have faith.

Until then, I'll keep trucking along - and learning, and revising, and breaking through - in the privacy of my own head and computer.  And with the help of a few unsuspecting beta readers.

1 comment:

Julie Frayn said...

Jen I am struggling with this as well. I want to be traditionally published, but I do want my book to be read. As we've discussed, our stuff seems to not fit the genre molds (or the saleable molds?). Self-pubbing might be the best option so that I can move on to the next one. Will see where it goes! :)