Press This

A friend and I recently talked about indie authors creating small presses for their works.

The cynical side of me spoke up. Along the lines of how authors must still feel a tiny bit of shame that there isn’t a publishing house listed under their title. My friend explained the business sense behind having a press, and I get that. I’m even considering it, talking to another friend about starting a small local press.

But let me be brutally honest here. I would feel more like a ‘real’ author if I had a publisher’s name behind me. Heck, even a small press that I started would make me lose that tiny seed of shame when someone asks me, ‘who published your book?’ I could say the name of the press rather than ‘me’.

Dang that makes me mad. That tiny seed of shame. Why am I less of an author, in this day and age, because I am not under a contract, signing my life away to a big name? The truth is, I’m not less of a writer. My stories are just as valuable. Well, I may need a lot more editing than most, but that’s a previous blog post.

Now that my dander is up and I’m continuing the honesty theme, I think even using the phrase ‘I’m an indie author’ is covering up for that seed of shame. Otherwise I’d say ‘I’m self published’. Yes I know there’s a difference between self publishing and self publishing through a vanity press. Yes I know all the arguments for publishing free of an agent and big name. After all, I researched all the pros and cons before I chose which route to go. But still, there’s that ingrained sense of not being a truly published author yet.

You know what I think the problem is?

Age.

Think about it. I grew up when an author’s dream was to land an agent and get picked up by a major publishing house. All the resources for writers explained in detail how to market yourself to an agent.

These days, younger writers are growing up free from that. They are like my teenage son, who amazes me with his computer skills. Compared to me, growing up with a manual typewriter. These young people haven’t had those publishers held in front of them as the only path to being an author. Options and alternatives are more acceptable.

Guess I need to get with the times.

Think I’ll go start a small local press.

He's also skilled with engines. Not that I'm bragging.

He’s also skilled with engines. Not that I’m bragging.

 

2 thoughts on “Press This

  1. I think you’re right that there’s a huge generational component to how writers feel about self-publishing and all of the variations on that theme. There was a time I’d never have considered it, but now it seems like a possibility. There are two things that hold me back.

    One is that I’m looking for validation from a publisher. I think I need someone to say, “Yes, this is a good story and I can sell it.”

    The other is that I don’t know much about marketing except that it’s a lot of work. If I were to self-publish, I’d have to learn every part of the business and do it myself. I know authors who work with established publishers have to do most of their own promotion these days, but I still think I’d like an experienced partner to guide me should I ever get to that point with my writing.

    I admire anyone who has the gumption to plunge in to the publishing world to get her words out there.

    • Validation is exactly the word I was looking for. I crave the same thing.

      Marketing is a big problem for indie authors only because it takes so much time. But there are ways to make that work, and one thing I’m finding is that word of mouth seems to work better than anything else. Plus, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to put effort into marketing the first book. Well, depending on genre I guess. For example, mystery readers like to see series, so marketing pays off there, if you have more than one book out. I know one author friend also hired a marketing business. Of course then you have money going out before much comes in.

      But other than the validation of having someone ‘big’ say your story is worthy of their time, I do like the complete control that comes with doing it myself.

      Reminds me of a woman who put together an art festival and told me only artists who would be in museums twenty years from now could display their work. I asked her how the board knew who would be in a museum in the future and she said ‘I decide’. So maybe, even with large publishers, it’s all arbitrary anyway.

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