As a beginning author and a beginning publisher, the most dreaded, insecure question you can be asked is: “Did you publish it yourself?” As I wrote in the previous article, sure, being self-published leaves you in good company and there is really nothing inherently wrong with it. In fact, if you look at the facts self-publishing is an act in courage and belief. In confidence and direction. I would almost argue that perhaps the most valuable lesson learned from successfully (success loosely defined: finding reviews, getting peer complements and the like) self-publishing your own writing is that you actually do it. This may sound simple, but I’ve come to realize that 99 percent of the people out there do more thinking than acting. My non-profit group is called the Standing By Words Center, and as the phrase suggests, being able to stand by your words is a terrific and yet hard thing to do. How many times have you thought, or heard others at an art museum say, “Gezzz, I could do that!” Well, the point is you/they haven’t. A commitment to the entire process of creation is a hard thing to do.
Anyhow, so you have your book published and sure you’ll get a pat on the back from your close friends and family The gee-whiz, what a good job you did, but from others you’ll hear, “Cool, who published your book?” When you say, “I did it myself,” there will be the pause, or maybe the mind-reading moment that I alone endure in which you know your answer comes up short in some way or another. Do get me wrong, I do believe a good publisher can make all the difference in the world and I approach all authors I now publish with as much respect as possible. However, in my case, with no writing training, no MFA connections or degree, and a wish to get started as a writer self-publishing was just right for me. I will say, though, that I did harbor a longing to get my writing picked up by a publisher other than myself. It was a challenge really and I did pull it off, but mostly because of my work as a self-published author had continued to bolster my belief in my writing.
I can’t lie. I am glad I have experienced working with other publishers now. I have come to believe that a really good publisher should self-publish your own work and experience the effort it takes. And, you should have another publisher work on a book you’ve written. The lessons learned from these two points-of-view will make you a better book publisher (and author) in the end. How? I’ll explore that in the next article.