Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Slightly Askew

I've been thinking about this topic a great deal lately, because all my friends are discussing it, so hey, here goes nothing.

To self-publish or not to self-publish?

Way back when I started writing I would have done almost anything to see my name in print. It just seemed so darned hard to get the attention of editors, agents, anyone who would even read much less accept my work. Of course, I thought what I was writing was perfect, just the thing, kids would love it, and so on. I thought I just needed to get the right person's eye and - voila! I would hit the big time.

I was wrong.

For one thing, I had the wrong goal. The goal is not to be published; the goal is to be read. To be read and loved. To be read over and over again, and on into timelessness. Sure, some people come into this world with a gift that elevates them right away to a sphere of knowledge that gives them the ability to write a winner. I'm not in that camp. I needed to learn what children will read and like. I needed to learn pacing and character and scene/sequel. So getting published before I learned those things would mean a mediocre book at best.

I have friends who are self-published - several who are really great, superb, award-winning writers - and I looked on them with envy, and not a little of the, well, why not?

I'm so glad I opted "not" and here's "why".

1. I needed to become a better writer first.
2. I needed to become a better writer first.

You get the idea. Editors were not rejecting me because they didn't get my writing; they were rejecting me because my writing wasn't good. Okay, maybe, but not good. Not salable. Not re-read a million times good. Not as good as my self-pubbed friends who are good.

So, if you are considering self-publication, which in these times is all too easy, please think again. The number of self-pubbed books that make it is miniscule. That's because the number of self-pubbed books that are any good is miniscule. That's because - most - not all - of the authors who are self-pubbed jumped the gun, and didn't learn the craft of writing first. Like me, who almost went there and is very happy she did not.

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