Before we begin I think this piece needs a theme song. Why? Just because I love the beat and the attitude in the song and the title is just so close. Queue in George Thorogood’s Who Do You Love?
Okay. Now that you’ve shared in my classic rock fix, read on.
Who should you trust? You want on the writing bandwagon. You want to put on a smoking jacket and have cheesy photos taken. You want the success of Hocking, King, Patterson, or perhaps Konrath and Locke. So, how do you get there? Do you self-publish or go the traditional route? If you do self-publish, what price do you set? How do you advertise? Who’s got the answers?
Everyone has answers. Who do you trust? Read carefully, and I’ll tell you.
I remember coming across J.A. Konrath’s blog early 2009. Back then, his posts were still about publishing in the traditional world although I found much of it far from the traditional approach. The blog intrigued me, as did the advice. Mostly, I just liked his wit. I subscribed. I read. When Joe started to talk about self-publishing, I thought he might finally have lost it. Clearly, he was committing career suicide in a very public way. It was a train wreck worthy of its own reality show.
Fast forward nearly a year and a half. I’d been querying agents right and left with a couple of books. I received requests – a lot of them – from top agents at top agencies. I thought The Call would come at any moment. What I got was varying opinions on my work: too light, too dark, change character X into Y. Change character X into B. After rewriting a manuscript three different ways for three agents, I was starting to feel like Charlie Brown and Agent Lucy was holding the football. But it was when I started getting the rejection letters that read, “You have a great voice/story (insert other compliment here), but in this economy” that I started to wonder if Joe was on to something. After all, the responding agents all said something extremely flattering about my work. Still, self-publishing? Was that the best route? Konrath and other writers said it was. Successful and traditional writers were even taking the leap into the self-publishing world – even those with future contracts.
But, it’s Joe, and he is slightly opinionated. Ha! He didn’t start out the way I was. He’d already been published and had a fan base. He and the others could be wrong. He kept pushing self-publishing Kool-Aide but I wasn’t ready to drink it. I could shoot any future writing career I had in the foot. What to do? Trust Joe, or the nay-sayers?
Turns out, there was someone else with the answers. Someone else I took the blind leap of faith in and trusted more. But that’s jumping ahead. There’s still more to the story.
I tracked down articles and other blogs. I came across Karen McQuestion. No pretense, no attitude, just a woman who’d been in my shoes. After a few days of chewing on the idea of self-publication, I took a chance and contacted her. Karen graciously responded and pointed me to a wealth of information.
It was now or never. I was sick of hearing, In this economy. I could either self-publish and see what happened or I could cry in my soup and hope the next novel, or the one after that, or the one after that might make appease the gatekeepers. In other words, I could rely on people I didn’t know to make my dream a reality or take my future into my own hands. It’s all in who you trust.
I’ve never regretted becoming an indie author. I can’t offer you a rags to riches story here. I’m nobody’s Cinderella. If you’re writing with the hopes of driving a Ferrari, you’re probably not living in the same reality I am. Few reach that status. If you’re looking for easy street, you’ve made a wrong turn—off a cliff.
It’s all about what makes you happy, folks. You need to write because that’s what you love. Just be sure to hire pro editors and cover artists should you decide indie publishing is for you. Now, I don’t know what the future holds and I refuse to bring the Ouija board out of the attic. Those things freak me out. But, I can tell you that I believe in the reader’s ability to find great stories, no matter the format no matter where they come from. Don’t compare yourself with others who are selling better than you. Don’t compare yourself to a friend who just landed a dream agent. If you’re stressing about all that, you’re heading down the wrong path.
Who do you trust? Who has the magic answer? If you haven’t figured it out, then I’ll just beat you over the head with a ten-pound sledge hammer and two quotes from the late Steve Jobs:
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
“Your time is limited. Don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
Really? You still want to know? Okay. Come closer. Yes, that’s it. I’m going to tell you the secret to life and everything that’ll make you happy—that one person who you should put all your faith in and rely on to make your dreams come true.
There’s really no one else. Until you trust in yourself, you’ll never find your way. Not in life, and certainly not in writing. You have to make your own decisions based on the information available to you. You have to trust your own B.S. detector.
I made my choice. Only you can make yours. Who do you trust?
*my original post appeared on The Indelibles, 6/26/12