Dear Self-Published Authors,
Basically, it boils down to this: I'm sorry for judging.
I know most people in "traditional" publishing try to tip toe around this, try to say they don't judge and that self-publishing is gaining credibility. But I'm sure you know differently. I'm sure you've felt the extra scrutiny you receive, and yeah maybe sometimes that leads to being a bit defensive.
So I'm saying it now. I'm sorry. For assuming you just "throw your work out there." For supposing you don't care or gave up on trying to break into the "Big 5." For thinking maybe you just want to avoid the editing process or that you can't work with other people well or that you are control freaks. I'm sorry for all the assumptions out there—some of them I admit right here and now I held myself.
You're probably thinking these apologies have everything to do with the fact that I am working to self-publish a novel right now—you would be entirely correct and I'm okay with admitting that. Sometimes you have to step into the same shoes to really get it, and I can assure you I'm beginning to see both sides so much more clearly.
The judging, I can already see it happening to me. I admit I thought because of my traditionally published books that I would be spared a little, but I'm starting to understand that is not the case. It's been a big lesson to me. A humbling one.
You guys work hard. Most all of you take this dead seriously. So it must hurt when someone says you didn't put in the effort. It must be heartbreaking when you follow every procedure, do all the edits from the editor you pay, take the time to create a good cover, learn how to market, learn how to format, learn how to take care of your cash flow and taxes, not to mention often putting out more than one book a year…
Yes, now I see why it feels like a slap in the face when someone calls you lazy. Or says you're taking the easy way out. Or claims your work is not professional.
I apologize for ever thinking any of that. Even if it was just once.
Because you are, for the most part, professionals juggling all the things my agent and publisher handle on my traditionally published books. Now that I face this, I see what an overwhelming feat that is. You guys are amazing.
And your books? They're amazing, too. Maybe they don't always fit in boxes like they're "supposed to," but that's why you do this anyway, right? Things that wouldn't fly in Big 5 Land—those are the things you're not afraid of. Sometimes you get flak for being different, but now that I'm about to put out my own very different novel I understand why you do it.
People might say this book of mine isn't right—it does things wrong, or it's weird, or whatever. They may blame it on the fact that I self-published it, instead of seeing that it's exactly what I wanted it to be and part of that is how different it is. I love different…sometimes traditional publishing does not.
I'm sorry people expect you to fit in boxes. I'm sorry the boxes exist to begin with, both for you and myself. I've never done so good with the fitting in, and the creative part of me is falling in love with the freedom I get from going hybrid.
So, again, I'm sorry. And I admire you. The hard work you do? I see it now, and I will never, ever stop seeing it.
All the best,