Thursday, September 08, 2011

Stars In The Eyes Causes Blindness

Yesterday, a friend who has written for years but has never been published announced she and another friend were going to write something and self-publish it. She didn’t even have a strong idea of what they were going to write, just that they were going to go full steam ahead. When I cautioned her about understanding all the cons, as well as the pros, of self-publishing, she accused me of trying to knock the stars out of her eyes and steal away her hope.

That was partially true. Being a big fan of hope, I’d never dash anyone’s hope, but I was trying to knock the stars out of her eyes. At least just enough for her to see the reality of self-publishing more clearly.

This stars-in-the-eyes attitude is typical of a lot of people who think self-publishing is the road to instant success. While it is a viable path, for every Amanda Hocking there are thousands of broken dreams and bodies strewn along the roadside.  That's the reality. That doesn't mean my friend will become one of those dead bodies, just that the odds are against her becoming the next Amanda Hocking. It takes a shit load of work just to fall somewhere in between.  Even seasoned, traditionally published authors who are now doing the self-publishing route will tell you that.

My friend accused me of trying to discourage her.

Not so. I strongly encouraged her to go for it, but not before she did some homework on the process and the costs involved such as editing, cover art, formatting, ISBNs, pricing structure, marketing, etc.

“What’s an ISBN?” she asked.

My point exactly.

This gets said somewhere on the web at least a thousand times a day, but it bears repeating:

If you are thinking about self-publishing your work, be it a novel, short story, or non-fiction, do it with hope, but don't do it blindly.  Know what it's going to take, in addition to the actual writing, to get the job done professionally.  Learn the business. Learn the process. Understand you're bucking the odds.  Then go forth, knowing that with that knowledge you're at least wearing a mouth guard and jock strap.

3 comments:

Mark said...

Very wise counsel, Sue Ann. I hope your friend realized you do have her best interests are heart by the time you were done talking.

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CJ West said...

I agree Sue Ann. There are many fun things to do naked. Self-publishing isn't one - unless you do it from home and then I guess it's ok.

CJ