Why I Chose Self-Publishing: Finding My Own Path.

Contemplating

This post will be a little different and more lighthearted than usual. I’ve been thinking a lot about my new series lately and I’m wondering about some things, whether to keep it in past or present tense. I seriously wanted to stick to one tense, but I’m having second thoughts. We’ll see how it goes. One thing I know, is whenever I stop writing a story it means that something is not working here. Not that there’s something truly bad at play, but there’s something I’m not getting at. Writing to me is like a jigsaw puzzle. I’m trying to find all the pieces to fit and what doesn’t fit. If I decide to go with my gut instinct, I will have broken all rules of grammar. Since this series is one big experiment, I’m challenging myself to follow what makes sense to me.

I had already written and changed so much of the story. In fact, I wrote more in present tense than I did in past tense. Don’t know what that means as of yet. However, this story did originate as a script/screenplay. I’d like to get more practice writing in present tense, so maybe I will stick to it for now and see what happens. No matter what writing style I chose, I’ve always been detailed in my writing. One thing about my stories, I love to add details––maybe a little too much detail, so I have to be careful of rambling.

GET BACK TO WORK!My writing bug is itching again…

She’s telling me to get back to work.

Let me just think...

Please, just let me think for a moment.

Do you see what I have to work with?

Anyhoo, what brings me to WordPress on such a lovely day? Well, for one thing, I have to say my mother’s word of advice.  Once again, she always knows what to say. In the beginning, let’s just say that my parents weren’t all that supportive from the gecko when I told them I wanted to make a living out of writing. My father’s exact words went something like this:

Dad:  This is a joke, right?

Me: It’s no joke. I’m serious.

Dad: Why don’t you become a teacher?

Mom: Wait… didn’t you say you wanted to be a biologist? Or a veterinarian?

Me: I never said I wanted to become a teacher… or a biologist or a veterinarian.

Dad: Yeah, you did. You said biologist/veterinarian…

Mom (nodding in agreement):  And a scientist too.

Me (frustrated): All right!  So, maybe I did when I was younger, but not anymore. Can’t a girl change her mind? I want to pursue writing from now on.

Dad (disappointed): So… how will you pay your bills? How will you live?

Me: By writing.

Dad: No one pays their rent by writing. Have you gone nuts? How will you write with no food, no apartment, no car?

Me: I’ll find other jobs to support me for a little bit while I write a few books on the sidelines.

Mom (a little worried): Maybe it’s better if you just stick to something you’re good at honey.

Dad: A lot of writers died poor, you know… no one makes a living out of writing.

Me (sighs): Yes Dad, I know. But I’m going to pursue my dream even if it kills me. You gotta trust me on this one. This is what I want––it’s for the best.

Mom: All right, sweetie, but if the writing thing falls through like your father says… maybe you should become a teacher.

GET TO THE POINT!

Yes, yes! I’m getting to the point now.

That life lesson was before I had written my book, Nightmarish Reality. At first, my parents didn’t understand me nor did they even recognize that I had a need to write––a passion as they call it. They still loved me, regardless of what I did, but they feared for my future. They saw no future in writing books. It was just a few of my teachers and some friends at high school that told me I had a gift… and that gift was writing stories, whether it be scripts or so on. I didn’t believe I had it. No matter what people said (good or bad), I continued writing here and there. However, I didn’t take writing seriously (publishing) until well after I graduated from high school and went into college. In college, some of my teachers saw a lot of potential in my work, despite the fact I was still considered a novice.

Even then, I still didn’t believe I’d be good enough to write and publish a book, and yet I kept on writing. Always had the urge to write my thoughts down on paper––something was driving me, compelling me to tell stories. I had written parts of my novel about a year or two before I went into college by the way, but in no sense of the word was I ready to publish it. The manuscript was still just little bits and pieces––a nonlinear story that kept my friends asking for more, whenever they finished reading it.

Throughout my years in college, I took more writing classes, tweaking and revising my stories as best as I could. I have to say the day I thought about pursuing my writing dream for real was when a teacher, from one of my writing class, believed a fiction story was actually real––the one I had written for an assignment was fake by the way. I made it all up! But I didn’t have the heart to tell her, because she wanted real life stories about us, using some stupid abstract idea. I couldn’t find any in my boring real life to emulate it, so I made up a story instead. She loved it while I passed the class with flying colors. That was my eureka moment right there! People couldn’t tell the difference with some of my stories, since I always wrote what I knew. Maybe I put so much of myself (as well as time and effort) into my own writing that it has a sense of realism––I really don’t know anymore. No bragging intended!

I worked on other scripts and more ideas rushed into my head. Asked for feedback from trusted friends/associates, but tried not to show it to everyone. For I was afraid certain people would see me in a whole other light. People can be so judgmental sometimes and I didn’t want them calling me a freak. I especially feared my parents would read my story one day and then suddenly disown me for even thinking about writing such a story. I think that was the main reason I waited so long––mostly fear of not being accepted by my own peers and family members.

While I wrote, I also did a lot of research, trying to see if I could find a book publisher or an agent. I did a lot of reading up on how to format a query letter, but never wrote a query letter until after I moved out of the house. I guess I didn’t want my parents to find out. Eventually, one day I was sick of the researching… I got a headache just reading a thousand articles on different types of publishing houses and literary agencies. Just got fed up with buying the Writers’ Market books, every damn year.

Got tired of making notes of which publishing company would be best for me. Not to mention I wasted more paper, printing out copies of guidelines/rules and addresses, etc, etc. Had mountains of paper in my room, just stacking up higher and higher every year on my desk. Despite their horrible restrictions, I knew my story would never fit their mold. But why give up trying if I haven’t tried it first? I thought. So, I decided to write up a query letter, five page summary, and a book proposal. Sent it out to the best agent/agency I found, which seemed like the perfect fit.

I knew I probably wouldn’t get a reply until maybe months later, but the agent did respond quite fast. I think it was only a matter of a few weeks that he replied back. His response was very polite and he told me respectively they had declined. I think that was when I realized traditional publishing wasn’t for me. Couldn’t imagine waiting three weeks, six weeks, months, years. In all that time, I could’ve just focused on my writing and published more books. I’m not getting any younger folks! Life is too short for this. For many years now, I had considered self-publishing, because the more I read about the traditional route the more I hated it. Why does an agent need 15-20% of my royalties? Some say it’s 10% and others say it’s 15% or more. I understand they do want to sell my book, but what happens if my book doesn’t sell? Then what?

In addition, I wasn’t liking how some of the book publishing companies handled their authors and their contracts. I couldn’t imagine not having control over a book cover…I couldn’t imagine not having control over my story with all their editing. Yes, it’ll be great to talk to one of their editors, but to change up my characters, my story, and god forbid––cut out chapters! I couldn’t imagine selling a cut-up imitation of my book with bullet holes all over it. It wouldn’t be the same as the original. I understand cutting out unnecessary parts, I do it all the time, but to change up my characters (or even one of them) would be blasphemy!  Don’t get me started on marketing. It’s good to have a PR Agent, but no amount of marketing can sell a book that nobody wants to read. Some books get all the attention and they still don’t sell one copy… okay, maybe I’m being a bit too harsh. The book probably sells some copies, but not enough to met the deadline––or it doesn’t meet the company’s planned expectations that they had in place before.

So, the traditional route scores maybe a 2 (editing and marketing) while self-publishing is a 3 (more royalties, more book design options, more control and freedom). That was what I felt back then, and I still feel the same even now. In fact, deep down I always knew somehow I wanted to be my own publisher, putting out my work out there to the best quality as I can. Nothing’s full-proof by the way. Self-publishing still comes with a lot of risks. Yes, I’m still not a millionaire, but I don’t care one bit. I don’t regret self-publishing at all. Some of my friends are self-published as well––they may have different beliefs and opinions on why they choose that path, but I don’t question them.

Overall, the main reasoning behind their decisions might be different from why I did it. Some say it’s easy to self-publish and others say it’s not that easy. I’m agreeing with the part that says self-publishing is not easy. I had to do everything on my own, including hire people to work for me. That’s never an easy decision to make. And I wouldn’t recommend self-publishing to those who have no idea what they’re doing. If you do know what self-publishing entails, then I say “Is it worth it to you?” I can’t make that choice for you––people have to make that choice for themselves. I picked self-publishing because I would rather have the freedom and total control over my work. I don’t care if any experienced editor or writer comes up to me and says that I made the wrong choice. Hell no! There is no right or wrong path to publishing.

Many people have gotten published by other means, it’s not even funny. To tell me, there’s only one type of elephant in the world or only one way to solve a mathematical equation, then I’ll have to say “I’ll show you how to eat an ice cream cone with no hands!” Everyone is unique, every person has their own path to follow. Self-publishing is my path.

I’d rather write my own stories, pay for my own editor, get a cover artist (or do my own covers, which are still top notch), and publish with the sense that I put in the time and the effort to accomplish a book that everyone else will probably stigmatize. Will I lose money? Of course, I will! But that’s the point, isn’t it? I’d rather write and publish for myself, then have a fan base and have no self whatsoever. I believe I’m quoting that from somewhere.

Okay, back to the point.  What my mother said to me is so very true. I should never sell myself short. After I’ve published my book, she’s been nothing but supportive of my work, even though I tell her she could never read it. She’s not into reading fiction and neither is my father. She told me that when it comes down to believing what’s best for my story, I should stick with it and not change it due to other people’s beliefs. If someone says to cut this idea or character out, because it’s not working, I should have the confidence to know what I want. What may work for someone else, may not work for me.

It's Gonna Be A Bumpy Ride!

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

~Cyril Connolly

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