Friday, June 10, 2011

Did I rush into self publishing?

I just read a post on Ready, Aim, Hook Me’s blog that seemed to be directed toward me. Several of the points made are very similar to what they wrote in their critique, which is why I’ve taken the blog post so personally. First, I would like to say that these women seem like very kind people. They were encouraging and polite and I really do appreciate them taking the time to read and review my work. This is not at all a response to that critique, but more an answer to a question they asked on the blog.

So what’s the rush? Why are writers pushing work that is not ready? Are we in such a hurry and blinded by possibilities that we can't see imperfections? 

Why did I "rush" to publish? Well, first I didn't. I worked on the book for over two years (actually it’s been I think 3 years now, which is a long time for a 50000 word book of this nature). There comes a time when a book has been worked to death, and that time had come for Magic High. The flaws may have been fixable with a complete rewrite of the story (again) but I felt that would have caused the story to lose what energy and charm it has. (Of course there are people who’d argue that it has none now.)

I also considered carefully over several weeks before deciding to publish and I’ve since had several months to consider my decision. I’m still generally happy with my decision, even if people consider it amateur and not ready to be published. I’ve experienced something that relatively few people in the world get a chance to. I’ve not only written a book (this was actually my third completely finished novel with several other mostly finished ones in between) but I’ve also put it out for the world to see and judge. 

I had said in my letter to reviewers that I’d only let friends and family view the piece before publishing. (They even mention this in the post, which is also why it feels directed to me.) Yes, I only had friends and family read my book. However, several of them are published authors themselves, and the others are almost all aspiring authors whom I respect greatly. In total, I believe I’ve had around 24 people read my book to some degree, including a creative writing class and editors who made a pass after reading the full. The point I was trying to make, (and I really shouldn’t have said anything in the first place), was that I had never had someone read it for no other purpose but to critique the work. If that doesn’t make sense, that’s okay because it doesn’t really make sense to me anymore either.

Obviously this book has flaws or else an editor would have been begging me to publish through them. They would have marvelled at the fact that my book was the first one ever to be completely flawless. The trick isn’t to be flawless, but instead to know whether or not your book has too many flaws to be published. I personally felt that my book was comparable to similar published books and that the main reason it wasn’t being published wasn’t the quality of the story but rather the over saturated market. Maybe I was deluding myself. It certainly feels that way after the few comments I’ve gotten back.

Finally, as I mentioned in one of my first posts, the reason why I published was because I felt that I had two choices. I could either allow my story to sit in a box never to be read by anyone beyond the people I could afford to print off copies for, or I could self publish and see what happened. I was well aware of the fact that this could be a terrible mistake for my career as an author, since I could be forever after marked as being amateur. However, I felt that the reward of having something physical to show after years of hard work outweighed the negative.

Perhaps I’ll never be a “professional” writer. Perhaps I will always be “amateur.” However, I didn’t choose this profession to become rich or famous. I hardly expect my stories to become classics. My goal is to create something that can make someone in the world smile. And I think I achieved that with Magic High.

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