Self-Indulging The Ego Trip

Perhaps that’s my little way of describing self-published author. Before you start snarling, dripping saliva on your keyboard and firing off some diatribe at me, consider this—are you really doing yourself a favor by going this route? What are you hoping to accomplish? Self-pub fame and wealth by selling a bunch of 99¢ e-books on Amazon?

In my opinion, all self-publishing does is promote horrid prose, bad grammar/punctuation/spelling, and most importantly—no editing!

I think the main issue with aspiring writers is they’re looking for the big banana. A breakthrough novel to appease the masses, or their parents who have been telling them to get a real job, and prove once and for all they are a gawd unto themselves in front of the keyboard.

Keep living in your delusional world, pal. It gives me a topic for my blog.

But Kastil, you say, look at all these self-pubbers who have made millions! It’s like they’re best sellers or something but the New York List snubs them! E-Books are the dirty little whores of the snobby elitist swanky nightclubs. Have you read most of the trash that makes the NYB? If you have, well, I suggest you scour for those ‘awesome’ wannabe self-pubber books to read. They’re right up your alley.

Best sellers are often tailor-made for the person on the go who really isn’t looking for anything too thought provoking on the train ride to work.

Now before you go bat-shit crazy and say I have no idea what I’m talking about because I have publications under my belt, let me offer this advice:

Get over yourself.

I’m not here to wave my small successes in your face like I’m living large in Beverly Hills eating Beluga caviar. None of them were handed to me. My publications aren’t of a novel size (yet) and I worked damn hard, never giving in to emails such as this:

Thanks for letting us see ((edited out)). Nice bit of horror that didn’t work for me. Predictable, maybe? Keep trying.


Thanks for your submission to ((edited out)). I’m afraid this one didn’t quite work for me, but there’s still time to submit another. I apologize for not giving you feedback on your work, but I wanted to place the emphasis on quick replies.

Most likely, you’ll get this kind:

We regret to inform you that your story ((edited out)) does not currently meet our needs. We’re going to pass.

The last one is considered a form letter and, by the way, these are all rejections I have received. One piece is at seven rejections and I don’t think it will find a home. Horror pieces are an odd animal to place because most publications are looking for something that breaks the mold. I haven’t honed that niche yet.

I was once in the same boat, writing only novel-sized monstrosities, and trying to get someone to notice me. I entered a novel contest boasting they were open to new young writers only to see the company shake hands with someone tried and true. Then another from the same company that ended the same way. I swear the one form rejection letter they didn’t even wait for the ink to dry before shoving it off to me.

Ouch, that hurt.

It taught me one thing. While it’s nice to try for the big dogs, prepare to gonads to be repeatedly kicked until they, figuratively, kill your babies one by one. Finishing a novel is a daunting task full of immense word counts and aching joints. Just imagine if we all still used typewriters.

If I was to give anyone wanting to dive head first into the shark tank with an epic piece any advice it would be this:

Slow down, hombre. Find a writing group or a great place online like Scribophile to get other writers to help you with polishing your baby. Take criticism well and learn from your mistakes. No matter what stage you’re at in writing, you can still offer your input because most writers also read.

Try your hand at smaller pieces of works to get small publications. By trying to compress a story, I believe it helps in understand the components of a story.

Never pay to enter a contest or to get your book published. I find these avenues almost as bad as out and out self-pubbing. Better to get published and receive only a contributor’s copy than nothing at all. Even then, it should be a last resort.

And most important—don’t give up. If you’re lucky enough to get a more detailed rejection letter, listen to them. They are the people you’re hocking your wares to. Their opinion does matter.

If you’re still hell bent on riding your own imaginary gravy train, just remember not everyone is going to like and not everyone is going to be quiet about it. Reviews aren’t always rainbows and puppies. Sometimes they’re shit storms of epic proportions.

I’ll be here waiting with my pitchfork and vat of oil.


7 responses

  1. Hold out your pitchfork if you feel he need to keep me at arm’s length because I’m about to disagree … to an extent.

    Yes, there are some direly written and even more direly edited self-published works out there. But how can you truly believe only those accepted by agents or publishers are worthy of publication? That’s absolute poppycock! The problem with going the traditional route is the length of time that passes between getting an interest and the book going to publication. Because of this, agents and publishers spend their time trying to predict the future–and nobody has the power to do that. They no more know what will sell than you or I. Most of the time, what does or doesn’t get accepted is chosen by personal preference and what each [editor/agent who happens to find it on their desk] connects with. It’s a game of chance. You get lucky, or you don’t. Obviously an element of talent is required in your writing as well as a decent story, but it takes a helluva lot more than that to find yourself in print. Had Darkness & Light not been accepted when it had, it still would have been launched at exactly the same time of year because that was my plan/goal for the year which I boldly stated in my blog on January 1st. Yes, I would have self-published. You’ve read Darkness & Light–would you have had a different opinion of it if I’d chosen a different route to get it out there? Even books published through the big6 can receive low ratings and poor reviews, right?

    • Absolutely, sweetie. No pitchfork toward you at all. I do have a question for you, seeing as Darkness & Light was picked up by a publisher. Do you think it would have had the polish it had if you hadn’t had an editor to guide you through? To cut those scenes that you adored but did nothing for the overall story?

      Honestly, you’re one the rare breeds out there as I’ve read some of your WiP. You also have a beta reader that kicks you one side up and down. I dare say most self-pubbers are that lucky. Some are probably chained to the ‘OMG! That’s great writing!’ people.

      Also, if you noticed, I hinted that most of the books on the New York Best Sellers list are tripe themselves. It’s a commodity like a drive-thru breakfast. I’m of the belief that some authors get to a certain part in their career where they have a mass following and they lose that special touch they had when they first started out. Perhaps their editors isn’t as harsh as they need to be, knowing that the faithful will buy anything with the author’s name on it. To an extent, they are correct. Sheep will be sheep.

      • I did a lot of the hacking of scenes in Darkness & Light myself prior to it going to my editor, Pam. There were also a couple changes they requested I make, which I did. The first I’d have done anyway. The second, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to make the changes. And I ‘thought’ Darkness & Light was polished when I sent it off. I guess it was compared to a lot of the self-published works out there. If it had gone out as self-pubbed, it would have gone out at the higher quality end, without a doubt. However, there’s just something about that extra spit and shine the editor gave it that makes me relieved I went the path I did because they’ve shown me how much better my work has the potential to be.
        And yeah, I did note your hints that it wasn’t only self-pubbed works that weren’t up to scratch. 🙂

  2. I do agree that a well-edited product is one key difference, today, between self-pubbed (and even some very small indie-pubbed) and publisher pubbed products. Too many authors don’t take the time to have critical eyes look at their work before they take the easy path of Createspacing it into the e-book world, or for that matter, querying it with agents. I was one who didn’t want to believe just HOW much polishing a work req’d before it was “ready” to market. I grossly underestimated it and am a believer now. I wouldn’t dare self-pub without at least hiring an editor in addition to having some top notch beta readers.

    • It’s because new authors see the ease with which they can publish themselves, and they know they can have it in the hands if readers within days, and most writers have little patience so their resolve snaps and they push push push because they can’t wait. Then they get upset if the harsh realities come through in the reviews.
      I HATE waiting. Not for the book to be written. Not for the stewing time between edits. Not for the edits to come from from my editor. It’s once those edits have all back and forthed and been accepted from both parties, and I then have to wait for it to be formatted and all that other magical stuff they do in order for it to go to print, or be made into ebook, which makes the release date seem miiiiiiiiiiillllllleeeeeees away. <<that's where my impatience kicks in, and I'm guessing it's that feeling that has all the self-pubbed folks rushing into it.

  3. Waiting is hard, no doubt. My first publication was accepted in Fall of 2010 and I wouldn’t see it until Spring of 2011. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my writing. I see so many of my classic typos go unseen by my eyes. Even beta readers can miss them.

    I feel that if a writer really wants to do their readers justice, patience goes a long way. The one thing I envy you on, Julie, is the friend you have that tears apart each chapter of your work. Having someone like that is invaluable. When you have someone like that, your writing gets better because ou don’t just throw something at them and hope they miss your ‘lazyiness’. Isn’t going to happen, is it? 😉

    • My writer buddy who gets sent everything is more precious than gold. Because if it sucks she will tell me in no uncertain terms to sort it out, but she’ll also explain why it sucks so I have something to work with. And she’ll back and forth with me whilst (Man, did I seriously just use that word) I figure it out. And she’ll reread as many times as I need her to. I don’t even have to wait for permission to send. I finish up a chapter, I ship it off. But then you know how I crit, so you know she gets the same honesty in return. 🙂 I’d still be lazing around with her to shove me around and force me to strive to do better, no doubt.

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