I had a bit of a dark moment the other morning. In fact, I think I could say it’s the first time I’ve ever felt that “oof” gut punch since starting on my indie author road.
Last week, I got interviewed for a piece about my books for my alma mater’s magazine. I was ecstatic. I told my husband, my mom, and oh, yes, Facebook. And then, on Monday morning, I got an email from the person, with an apology saying that they wouldn’t be including me in the next issue. Why?
Because I’m self-published, with no agent or publisher behind my work.
It doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise – after all, I’m not the first person to be turned away due to being a self-published author. I know the stigma that comes with being an indie and most times, I understand why some people wouldn’t want to take a chance on reading an indie’s books or feature them when there are so many other published authors out there.
But this time felt different. It was the first time someone had made me feel like I wasn’t a “real author.” And the more I thought about it, the longer I spent my day in a bad mood. I felt sorry for myself and grouched about it to my husband and a couple pals. I was too embarrassed to tell Facebook my interview wouldn’t be in the next issue, hoping they’d forget about it before they searched for it. I didn’t necessarily question life choices or anything, but I was definitely feeling a little blue about the fact I was being held back because I was self-published.
The stigma of “bad self-published books” is slowly dying, but it still has a ways to go. Most people assume that “self-published” means “not good enough to make it in the book world” which, as we here all know, is utter bullshit.
Sure, there are some books out there that probably shouldn’t be out there. There are plenty of books with typos and grammatical errors and formatting issues (not all of them are self-published, either). There are definitely stories that are odd and poorly written, with little to no plot or character development. It doesn’t make my books bad and it doesn’t mean people shouldn’t self-publish.
I told my Smurf-blue self these facts all day long. It eased the sting, sure. “Every indie author goes through this,” I told myself.
Then I remembered something.
I don’t march to anybody else’s drum, dammit. When I wanted to work in radio, I elbowed my way into every door until it got me an internship at ClearChannel. It was the best summer of my life. When I wanted to be a photographer, my best friend and I started a photography business. We didn’t make much money, but we had more fun than I can possibly explain. And when I wanted to be a writer – more than a magazine writer, but a novelist with books for everyone to see – I self-published my first book and became part of an indie community with some of the best and most supportive friends I could ever ask for.
I believe in my work – it’s why I self-published. I have never, not once, regretted my decision. My sales are picking up. Both books have pretty stellar reviews. I have friends, family, and total strangers not only reading my work, but asking, no, demanding for more. I obsess over my characters and feel that overwhelming sense of satisfaction when I figure out a plot problem or finish a chapter. I’m doing what I love.
And I’m going to let an entire day be ruined because a magazine told me it was against policy to include self-published books?
Liz Long, you idget, get over it. Go write another book that you’re going to self-publish. Because it’s what you pride yourself in, what you believe in, and what you love. For all you know, your fifth or fiftieth book could pick up enough attention to attract a publisher – and you might not even want their hands on it. Who knows?
The alma mater helped mold me into who I am – a citizen leader who doesn’t curl up and take it, but rather stands tall and pushes forward. So what if they can’t include me in the Books section of their magazine?
Make them sit up and pay attention. Write so many good books they have no choice but to talk about their 2007 alumni Liz Long and how she pushed through the crowd to make a name for herself. “It’s what she’s always done,” they might say, “It’s what she’ll always do.”
To all those indie authors who occasionally get the smurfy blues – believe in yourself. And go write something you’re proud to have on your shelf.