::Opinion:: New writers *should* self-publish

On October 12, 2010 by Aimee

Egad! She said the ‘s’ word! No, no, no! That’s not allowed if you’re a writer and actually want a foothold in the writing industry. (note: entire previous statement written with element of sarcasm). 8)

To start, let me ask that you not get mad at me for my opinion. It is … in fact … just that. But instead, hear me out … and don’t comment unless you’re read my entire case. 8)

Maybe instead of my chosen title, I should have written: “If rock bands do it, shouldn’t writers?” but I doubt that would have had the same effect as my current one. You know … like the front page news headlines … they catch the eye first because they are often controversial.

Now you’re saying: “How in the world are writers and rock bands in any way, shape or form related?”

Well … think about a new/fledgling/’just getting started’ band for a second. You know … the garage players who are loud, obnoxious, play all-night long and drone beats which might keep you up. Or entertain.

These bands might be young. They might be old. They might have a day of experience, one year or 10. Most are just trying their best to work their way up the musical ranks. They play in their garages, at their friend’s houses, in local venues, coffee shops, anywhere they can take their music and put it in front of the general public. They know there are a whole lotta people who can sing or play an instrument, but only a teeny-tiny-eensy-weensy percentage actually get on the radio or record a disc for ‘a label’.

Yet, they still do it. These musical groups put themselves in front of audiences, sometimes just a few, other times dozens or hundreds or … more? Who knows?

If the band is good, they might start building a fan base. If they suck they’ll hear about it …fast.

Let’s assume the band is half-decent (enough that someone other than their Mom comes to their gigs). They might get another opportunity to play, and then more people might come. The group goes from playing for free, to playing for charity events, then making $5 a ticket, then opening as a cover for a bigger group, then … well … the sky’s the limit, right? Or they might just become known as ‘that local band’ that everyone wants, but who never ‘hits it big’. Are they any less successful? Maybe financially, but is that what got them started in the first place? Probably not.

The key is that they love music. They started a group, began to practice, learned their industry, practiced, practiced and practiced more and put themselves out there for the public to hear and decide their fate without ‘a major label’.

Now, let’s switch to the context of writing. If I say ‘self-publish’, the backlash begins. (That’s a little tongue-in-cheek, but at the same time … well … not). But … I suggest that writers, who do not self-publish, are like rock bands who never take their music outside the confines of their garage.

We are sitting with our ‘instruments’ [pen, paper or laptop] in our ‘garage’ [home, coffee shop, bathroom or wherever you write], sequestering our work in hidey holes, showing it only to our neighbors and family, or the few ‘readers’ we can gather who may be hard pressed to tell us our work is anything but ‘great!’.

We budding-novelist-writers are told, repeatedly, not to publish our work, not even to post in blogs because … well that would be publishing it and the big-publishing-houses won’t pick it up if it’s ‘already out there.’ That’s sticking us back in the garage.

How are we to prove we’re any good if no one sees the work?

We can’t. Our chances become worse than winning the lottery.

Instead, we writers should be out there, writing our ‘songs’ [novels, shorts, flash] and showing them off. Not all of them will be good. Some of them will be crap, but we’ll learn … quickly … that what we produce is worth something when we start to get ‘groupies’ [readers].

Come back to my original but alternate title: “If rock bands do it, we writers should, too.”

Self-publish for the purpose of getting your work out there, but like those bands, practice until your fingers hurt [type or write constantly in the genre you love and about the topics you love]. Fine tune your instruments [edit, revise and edit again]. Test the volume. [have beta readers give their opinions] Before you sing that first note … [thank your fan] and next time, thank them all.

Now, if you choose … feel free to give me your opinions. πŸ™‚ Are we, or are we not … sitting in our garages hoping the agent will pop by and pick up an unknown or are we willing to use technology and the power of self-publishing to build our careers so that one day, that agent will see us in a completely different light?