Friday, May 20, 2011

Me, Myself (publishing), and I

By Dianna Calareso

I thought biting the bullet would be harder, taste steelier, and hurt my teeth more than it actually did. In reality, biting the bullet of self-publishing was more like eating a piece of cake . . . and then being offered another.

After two years, 130 agent queries, six "show me more" replies, and no takers, I went the route that most of us have been groomed to believe is shameful, desperate, and unsuccessful—much like my attitude toward online dating before I actually gave it a try and realized it was more fun and more successful than sitting at home, waiting for a stranger to find me. But as a self-published author, I feel proud, accomplished, and successful. I did it!

But, I had to get over a few things before taking the route that has been one of the best decisions of my life:

  • Myself. I had to get over myself! Who cares if a 25-year-old agent in New York thinks I'm "not what she's looking for?" Was I really going to place all my confidence and worth as a writer in the hands of a stranger who I already know doesn't have the time or money to publish a non-celebrity memoir? I was about to, until a friend knocked some sense into me and literally said, "GET OVER YOURSELF." It was the best smack in the face I've ever received.
  • Pride. Self-published ... ugh, right? Wrong. I wrote my book to tell a story, to share my experience, and to hopefully better the world. You don't need me to tell you how well that was working while my book was saved as a Word doc on my computer. Self-publishing has gotten my book out there, which is where it has to be if I want anyone to read it. And, if I don't want them to read it, I'm probably not ready to be a writer.
  • Them. How could I possibly leave my books with the books of other self-published writers (who are obviously terrible writers, not good writers like me who had bad luck with agents)? Easily—by accepting that other self-published writers are good writers. They're great writers. Many of them are better writers than I'll ever be. They just took a different road, got their books out there, and got on with their lives.
The most encouraging part of the process was realizing I could use my self-publishing for good. On Smashwords, I was able to set my own price. Then, I could decide what to do with it! And I decided to donate 25% of every sale to the Alzheimer's Association (since my memoir is about my grandfather's battle with the disease).

So if you've exhausted your options for traditional publishing, at least consider self-publishing. At the very least, it's a good exercise in getting over yourself. And that's the first step in becoming a true and honest writer.

Dianna Calareso is a writer, editor, and teacher with WITS. Her work has been published online and in print; her most recent publications include Concisely magazine and the anthology Saying Goodbye. Her creative nonfiction essays can be found at Dianna specializes in developmental editing and proofreading at the final stage of the manuscript. She has a keen eye for small details that can overturn a manuscript, including shifts in POV and spelling/grammar inconsistencies; she also works to guide clients with questions about plot, characters, and tone. As a writer, she can empathize with whatever your struggle is; as an editor she is eager to help you make your writing better.

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1 comment:

Kristie Cook said...

Well said! I'm so excited about all the authors who are deciding to go this way. Best wishes!