Monday, July 12, 2010

I AM a real author

Hi all! This is my first blog as a member of the Novel Spaces community and I am very happy to have been asked to join this group.

I am a self-published author. This was not my first choice. I write children's books based in the Caribbean and so my largest audience
is in the Caribbean. When I made the decision to write a book, I approached every publishing house in the Caribbean to no avail. I was rejected; not because my idea was not feasible, or because my writing was horrible. I did not even get an audience, none would even consider a manuscript. With one voice, they announced that they were only interested in textbooks and scholarly works and since I had the gall to write a book just for fun, they were not interested.

I decided not to let that stop me. I had a story that I felt Caribbean children needed to read and that I needed to write, so I decided to self-publish.

Does self-publishing make me less of an author?

There are many days when I ask myself that question. On those days I blush when I have to admit to potential readers that I was not snatched up by a big name publishing house. I can see disappointment cross their faces - 'how good could my books be if I had to pay to get them printed?' KeVin alluded to this sentiment in his novel spaces post just last week.

The thing is that, although anyone can self-publish, the process is self-limiting. If I had not got the great response that I had to the first of my two children's books, if I had not broken even, I would not have moved forward to the second.

Of course, it is possible that readers don't tell you the truth. Look at all of the singers who enter talent shows without a shred of singing talent. They probably had 'friends' egging them on and complimenting their singing ability. But my audience is comprised mainly of young children and they generally don't lie unless they are provoked. When I walk through the halls of my children's
elementary school and their friends stop me and say spontaneously "Auntie ..." (I live in a part of the world where children still address adults respectfully) "Auntie, I loved your book" and very often "Auntie, when can I read the next one," then I believe that I am making a worthwhile contribution after all.

Maybe one day I will write more mainstream books, perhaps one day I will be successful in my attempts to attract a publisher, but until then, I will continue to put my money where my mouth is and put out books until my audience tells me it's time to go.

What are your thoughts on the issue? Are you less likely to purchase a book once you find out that it is self-published?


Charles Gramlich said...

There are both gems and trash in every arm of publishing, from the big houses to the self published. I have noticed that there's a larger share of junk among self-published stuff, but there are also some great works that are fully as professional as anything published by the big houses. I admit to being more suspicious of self-published material because of the existing ratio of good to bad. I think a lot of readers are probably like that, but once you've developed a fan base for good stuff, that base will follow you.

Welcome aboard, btw. yesterday was my first post.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I was having a discussion with a self-published author just yesterday. I asked her about how a Nielsen rating works for a book which is POD through Amazon. I also know some authors will point to a rating system of ebooks saying "I was 150 of 300". But I have no idea what that means. I suppose it sounds good to say "My ebook was in the top one hundred sold on Amazon," but when you ask further questions for clarification, one finds we might be talking about ebooks in the same category being sold within a given hour.

The internet has made it easier to publish. And everyone can express themselves easily. This is great for someone who knows they stand little chance of getting published by one of the four or five megacorporations who dominate all media.

My own personal belief? I believe small presses are the way to go for authors breaking into publishing, that they are willing to take greater risks because their print run is smaller. I think this is especially true if you write genre.


Liane Spicer said...

Carol, welcome to the Novel Spaces team! We've got quite a Caribbean flavour going here, haven't we? :)

There is indeed a bias against self-published authors for the reasons Charles mentioned, but despite that many good writers decide to go that route. My sister also writes children's stories. She's a primary (elementary, you USers) school teacher and her stories are child-tested, but the publishers she queried haven't taken so much as a nibble and she's yet to be published. I applaud you for being persistent enough to persevere, and I look forward to reading your books.

Carol Mitchell said...

Welcome abroad to you as well, Charles. I read your post, quite interesting.
Thanks all for the encouragement.

G said...

I have no problem in reading self-pubbed books, as that is how I got my feet wet doing that route myself.

If it catches my eye and I find it do be a decent story, it does't really matter if its self pubbed or not.

Jess said...

Carol, good post.

I picked up a self-published book the other day and looked it over. There was a typo on the back cover. Of all places. Thumbing through it, I saw even more typos.

I have the highest regard for ALL writers, but I have to admit the only time I buy a self-published book is if the author is a friend. Well... I take that back. I bought one once because the cover was absolutely beautiful and I was soooooo hopeful the story would be the same. It wasn't.

Self-published authors have a stigma to overcome. They need GREAT covers on their books, GREAT back cover (error-free) blurbs and they need GREAT personalities when they speak and sign. Most of all, they need good editing.

I commend you for getting your stories out there. It shows you believe in them and yourself as an author. I admire you for that. Don't apologize for it. Don't explain yourself to anyone. Just make sure your writing is the best--VERY best it can be.

Shauna Roberts said...

Hi, Carol. Glad you have joined us on Novel Spaces.

I personally am wary of self-published books. I still buy them sometimes though—sometimes because a friend wrote them, and sometimes because it sounds interesting enough that I'm willing to put up with any bad writing it may have.

I have found in buying music, my favorite CDs are from small labels or are self-pressed. The big labels, in their quest for mass audiences, ignore quirky CDs and those with limited appeal or that take a risk. I think the big advantage of self-publishing for authors is that one can write a book and worry only about selling it to readers, as these musicians do. One doesn't have to go through the filter of publishers who want only best sellers and are afraid to take a chance.

In that sense, self-publishing has potential to be a source of the most innovative and interesting books. The problem is finding those books in the mass of books that are published every year.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Welcome to Novel Spaces Carol. It's good to have another Caribbean author and a fellow Kittitivisian at that. The Caribbean literary market is a hard cookie to crack when it comes to publishing houses and an author is lucky if he/she even gets a rejection letter from them. Usually it's no response(believe me, I've tried).

I admire the route you took. Being published by a major publishing house is no longer a validation for being an author. Not with the internet and so many avenues now available to authors. So whether it's paperback, hard cover, e-book, or self-published book, you are a real author.

KeVin K. said...

There are some excellent writers who choose to self-publish. There are also writers whose self-published works have attracted a publisher. The self-published outing acts as a proof of concept, as it were.

If you are achieving your goal through self-publishing, good.
But I would not be surprised if you found a small publishing house here in the USofA that might be interested in your work -- and children interested in journeying to an unfamiliar world.

I don't know much about that field -- small publishers and niche markets and original stories -- but I think it might be territory worth exploring.

Oh, and welcome aboard.