Monday, 5 March 2012

Success through self publishing

When a writer wants to publish their work, there is the question of whether to self-publish, or go traditional. There are positives and negatives on both sides, and sometimes one type of publishing will better a suit a writer, for various reasons.

It is not something I have had to personally consider yet, but something a writer-friend of mine said got me thinking about it; she said, 'I don't want to self-publish, it's not really 'making it'.'

I'm sure there are many counter-arguments that could be thrown at her view, but it got me thinking about why she, and probably many other writers, feel this way.

I think it has something to do with the access writers have these days to publication. Perhaps not with novels or drama so much, but certainly with short fiction and poetry, the Internet has opened many doors. Because we have the ability to submit our work more conveniently, and with far more places both online and offline to submit our work to, self-publication can feel like a larger scale version of the lengths we already go to in order to get our writing into the world.
I think it is validation we seek, knowing that we will be accepted into a special 'club', that makes traditional publishing seem like the ideal - it is called 'traditional' for a reason, after all. Hundreds of years of rich literary history have passed through the doors of publishing houses, and although it would be arrogant to assume it puts us on a par with, say, Shakespeare, knowing there is a tenuous connection to great writers can be a real boost to confidence, and aid in that feeling of, 'I've finally made it'. 

I'm not there yet, but I look forward to the day when I have a chunky manuscript on the desk before me, forcing me to choose a fork in the road. Perhaps I'll agonise over the journey ahead, but it will be worth remembering the journey I'll have already been on in order to reach that point. 

I wonder if Shakespeare ever wrote the final line of a play, and before looking ahead to the production at the theatre, took a moment to say, 'look what I've just done,' before he had the crowd's applause to validate it...

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