Why I won’t be querying (for now).
I grew up reading books pretty much all from ‘The Big Five’ publishing houses. Until the last couple of years, I’m not even sure that I had ever read an independently published book. Even now, many of my favourite authors are mainstream published (many, strangely, by Tor specifically).
Indie authors often get a bad rep. I’ve seen a few posts on Twitter just this week, indie authors discussing their negative experiences with the perception and dismissal of their work. In 2014 Huffpost dubbed self-publishers ‘The lepers of the literary world’. I saw one author hanging up their writing pants yesterday because when they shared that they had self published a book, they were scoffed at and given a derisive comment that shattered their confidence and motivation. But self publishing is not only valid, but extremely important. Many publishing houses remain dominated by an 'old boys club' that prevent or limit diversity and equality within their rosters. In self publishing however, quality control remains the accusatory finger pointed at its heart, making reader experience variable across the platform. But what we do gain from self published books is opening a doorway into a wild land of new ideas and brave storytelling. Some of the most creative and daring books I have read are self published, and some of the most problematic and disappointing are mainstream.
For authors, the decision to traditional or self-publish is a powerful and personal one, and depends on our personal and life circumstances, and our overall goals. So, with that said, why am I taking the path I am on? I thought it may be useful for me to explore why I am self publishing here in case you were on the fence yourself.
I often say that my relationship with writing is a flickering flame. I may be in my mid-thirties, but up until the last couple of years, I haven’t provided the creative spark in myself with either the oxygen or the fuel to take hold. The flame is undoubtedly flourishing now. It is by no means an out of control blaze, but I am feeding it, and it is growing. Putting pressure on myself by setting expectations largely out of my control is not the right move for me a present. I need to continue to nourish myself as an author, and protect myself from snuffing that creative flame out.
Control, is the single most important aspect. I want full creative control over my stories. That is how I nourish myself as a story teller, and how I really feel myself grow. Control isn't only a creative facet, but a functional one too. Even with writing aside, I work, I study, and I have a life too! I wrote one book in a month and the rough first draft of its sequel in around ten days. Other than that forty days, my productivity of drafting in the last ten months has been diabolical. I operate on my schedule – not only when I have time, but also when inspiration strikes and other parts of my life are manageable. As such, being put on deadlines and having someone to report to or work with really isn’t an option right now. I occasionally need long periods of time just to be. Time to refill my creative well, and remember that for me right now, writing isn't work - it's pleasure.
Finally, the community I have come across in the indie world has been incredible. I have been lucky enough to be supported by some amazing and inspiring authors. I have watched them produce some of the most awesome and exciting work, or most sensitive and touching stories - only to turn around and provide me with their support.
Indie or mainstream, what's most important is that we’re still writing those damn books. We all have to make the decision of which route is right for us, and it isn't just about the big picture, but where we are right now. Maybe one day I will query, and find an agent and publisher that are the right fit for me, but I can say for sure is that every single self published author should be incredibly proud. Proud that they have the courage and tenacity to put in the work and use their voice. I know i'm proud to be an upcoming self published author, especially because it helps me remember who I am writing for; me.