Day 18: Writing – Is self-publishing a good idea?
Writers are notorious procrastinators. When an idea for a novel is shiny and new they are filled with enthusiasm and scribble (or type) with fire in their hearts and in their fingers, but as time marches on and chapters fail to materialize they’ll use any excuse not to write.
It’s too cold, it’s too hot, they’re tired from working all day, the house needs cleaning, the lawn needs mowing ... you name it and they’ll use it.
Some of them, with every intention to write, sit down and fire up their computer only to stare at the screen or keyboard. From there they’re just minutes away of getting up to make a cup of tea, take the dog for a walk, play with the cat, or do something else that for one reason or another can’t wait.
Me, I’ve given up on novel writing. I wrote and self-published three novels and two children’s books and while I have a forth novel in the making, it’s gathering dust. I just don’t have the motivation anymore to continue writing.
I tried reading a few self-published works and they were bad. Not just bad, they were awful and I thought ... is my work as bad as theirs? No wonder self-publishing has such a bad reputation. So, if and when I decide to continue to write on my fourth novel, I will try to find a literary agent and if I fail, I will shelf the project. If they don’t think it’s good enough, if nobody wants it, then it obviously isn’t good enough for publication.
Every day I see self-published writers promoting their work, tooting their horn about how good, unique or interesting their book is. And I wonder ... did these people even try to find an agent/publisher? If they spend half as much time trying to get published mainstream as they do trying to convince readers to buy their book, maybe, just maybe their work might have been picked up by an agent.
Other than the content of those self-published books, the covers bother me equally. All too often I see book covers with half naked men, showing off their pecks, muscled arms and iron board flat stomachs. Is this what is supposed to make me buy a book? Do these self-published writers think that because some guy is on the cover I’m going to like the story they’ve written?
Other books sport such a plain and boring cover that I don’t even give them a second look. I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’ ... but this is total baloney. If this saying was true, then why do not all books have white covers with black lettering or black covers with white lettering?
Fact of the matter is, book covers are important, they are very important. You should see how publishers agonize over the right cover for a book. The picture, the colors, the title, the font of the lettering ... idea after idea is presented and rejected until the right combination is found.
While I understand that writers are proud of their work, I don’t like them bragging about it or announcing how many copies they’ve sold or their Amazon rank.
In comparison, I’m reading ‘The Alchemist’ now and what I liked about this author right away is that he was honest enough to state in his foreword that when ‘The Alchemist’ was first published it was a flop. The book didn’t sell, and his publisher canceled his contract. By sheer coincidence the book found another publisher and this time it was a success.
Something that always strikes me when I read a book is that the author has several people to thank. People who helped them in their research, people who supported them and pushed them to keep going, people who read the first draft of a manuscript and suggested changes, and most noteworthy of all, they thank their editor.
A good editor is worth his weight in gold. He will take an ordinary story and make it good, he will a good story and make it brilliant. This and the above mentioned is precisely what self-published writers lack ... they don’t have someone to read their manuscript and give them honest feedback. Writers invariably have fragile feelings and don’t take well to criticism. In turn, family and friends often don’t dare to voice their true opinion.
While there are undoubtedly good self-published books out there, the majority of those I have tried to read should never have seen the light of day.
Feel free to comment. I’d love to hear from you.