Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Publishing

I've been doing a lot of thinking.  Scheming, in fact.

It was hard to write that first line without finding something punchy and funny to put after it, because I'm embarrassed (still!  Why!?!) whenever I write about this writing thing like it's a thing.  It is so, so hard not to constantly be self-deprecating, just because that's so, so much easier than being vulnerable to disappointment.

So.  Scheming.

I have found that I have no interest in pursuing traditional publishing.

A lot of indie writers sound, in some ways, as if they are justifying this position by having a miserable history with the entire traditional trajectory--query, rejection, to the milliontieth degree, until finally, agent, contract, advance, published!  You know what?  As I think I covered in the first paragraph, I don't need all of that rejection in my life.  My willingness to be needlessly punished and to prove my valor through humbly submitting to said punishment is done; I mean, I went to grad school.  That's the last major deposit in to the internal pain bank I'm willing to make when people I love aren't involved.  But for many writers, particularly successful ones, it seems like explaining their litany of failures is necessary to justify their (incredibly lucrative) lapse into self-publishing.

In other lines of work, self-employment is valued as the kind of American, wholesome enterprise our collectively capitalist butts are trained to love.  I was once a self-employed contractor; I've worked for them as hourly help many times.  It was way better than anything I ever managed to achieve as a dutiful cog in a major consumer business model.  And by 'better,' I really mean 'freeing,' 'empowering,' 'meaningful,' and 'satisfying.'  In fact, I gave the corporate consumer business model a try a couple of times, and it sucked in every suit.  There is a lot to say about these things, but they'll have to wait--I want to get back to how this generally relates to the business of writing.

Now, is a monster consumer business.  So is Smashwords, or any of the big vanity presses currently making millionaires out of dreamers in the writer-scape.  But being an independent contractor working for a monster still manages to be freeing, meaningful and empowering in ways that dealing with the traditional publishing model is apparently not.  Along with the successful writers saying how many times they were rejected, there are traditionally published successful writers warning noobs on all their blogs that getting paid to write is really hard, don't quit your day job, etc.  So how do I avoid the rejection and the shame and still share what I've made with that fourteen year old version of myself?

I avoid traditional publishing.

Former jokes aside, I didn't want to become an occupational therapist to become rich, and I didn't start writing as an elementary school kid to do that either.  The fact is, like many stubborn people that haven't fit well in any corporate model previously, I wasn't a good bet to go through the process to begin with.  I love deciding what I'm going to do with myself each day.  I play well with others, but not when they want to take my personal power away.  No thanks.  Not into it.  So I don't want a list of rejections, or the feeling of vindictive satisfaction when I succeed anyway, or the bitter satisfaction when I don't that if I'd only found the right heading for my query, if I'd only...Nah.

I just want to find readers.  That's it.  And I don't need them to do it any more.

There had to be a reason I have nine books and not a single draft of a single query--I just kept putting it off, and wondering why.  This must've been it.

Good to know.

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