Why I’m Mad About Self-Publishing Stigma

I’m mad.

What’s worse is that what I’m mad about is truly something out of my control. There’s not a thing I can do about it except keep pushing barriers. To hold my head high and keep on keepin’ on with the rest of the crowd.

You can probably guess why I’m angry thanks to the headline. Wait – no, I’m NOT mad about self-publishing. But rather the thoughts behind self-publishing and the ideas that we’re not as good or “real” as traditionally published authors.

The publishing system isn’t broken by any means, but the stigma behind “traditional” and “indie” publishing has really gotten my goat lately.

I’m independently published, or self-published. What does that mean? It means I do not have an agent or traditional publisher backing me. It means that I’m in control of my stories, my edits, my covers, my marketing, and everything else that goes along with it. It means that I bust my ass working towards a dream.

Does it make me better than traditional authors? Nope. We all work hard to earn our keep; they just have a little extra help.

Does it make me worse than traditional authors? Still no. I’m not just chucking up the first draft and waiting for rave reviews to come in.

Things are changing and it’s time for folks to get on board before they’re left behind. I work in magazines, but it’s no secret that the indie waves are crashing down and changing the book publishing landscape. You know the stories – how Amanda Hocking self-published and rocked the publishing world to its knees when she became a bestseller without the help of the Big Six. How hundreds of authors are hitting NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists thanks to their fans and friends, to the straight up hustle it takes to earn such a title.

No, I don’t have tons of research or numbers to back up my facts. There are plenty of other posts out there with that info if you wish to look it up. This, my friends, is a flat out rant to those who judge our books based on the publisher – especially if it’s by “self.”

My local media (newspaper, TV, radio) won’t review my books because they don’t have a Big 5 publisher name attached. My own alma mater told me they won’t feature my successes in their alumni magazine because I don’t have a traditional publisher. (I found this out AFTER they agreed to feature me, then retracted the offer once they realized I was self-published). Never mind that I’ve put out 5 books since graduation, touting my pride and knowledge that their English department put me on my current course. A REAPER MADE takes place on the campus, for heaven’s sake! But they won’t even think about hosting me in their bookstore or inviting me up to speak to their students – because while they won’t say it, I’m not a “real author” as I don’t have some fancy publisher to back me.

I’m not looking for your sympathy, but that freakin’ hurts. It’s hard enough getting strangers to take a chance on us, but for the college I put my heart and soul into for four years, I thought surely they’d want to spotlight the students who work to better themselves (no matter what it is). But they’re not the first to behave that way, nor will they be the last.

If you’re indie, you know the looks. The ones where people get super excited to hear you’re a writer, then when they ask who published you, and you say, “I’m self-published”, you get “the look.” You know the one. “Oh,” they say, their shoulders deflating with disappointment. “I thought you were like, famous or something.”

It irks me because they make me feel like I’m not good enough. That I’ll always be “not good enough.” That we aren’t “real writers.” It’s why it took me years to finally tell people about my books and still get shy about it even today – because I don’t want them to roll their eyes and think because I’m doing it all myself, that must mean I’m no good. And dammit, we already have enough of that to go around from critics and trolls and Negative Nancys.

Self-published authors are not desperate losers (nor were they ever, but I like to think we’re more marketable now). Those of us in it to win it are not hoping to publish one book and get rich quick. I’m not quitting my job in the hopes of writing the “Next Great Novel” (because that plan doesn’t work for me).

I don’t need to be a traditionally published author to understand what goes into my books. I put on my pants like everyone else, going through the correct steps just like traditional authors do with their work: I have an editor to check my spelling and grammar, brilliant cover designers to catch readers’ attention, and a marketing team behind me so that I’m not in it alone and completely overwhelmed.

I’m not looking to be famous, either. I’m not saving lives like my EMT sister or building kids’ foundations like my teacher husband. They’re the ones who should be in the limelight, for making a difference in people’s lives. I simply want to be allowed to follow a dream without feeling like I’m being judged for it. I want people to be able to take a chance on my writing and not worry about who published it. Why should that matter? It’s about the story, how much you fall in love with it. No matter what I write, I want to provide an escape from reality for readers.

And when a reader tells me I did just that for them, there’s not a grump in the world who can bring me down.

Indie or traditional, you gotta do what’s best for you. And in the end, that’s what truly matters. Not some raised eyebrow from stranger Jack or a rejection email from your alma mater.

So how about we indies celebrate the fact that we’re taking charge of our lives by going after our dreams? That there are just as many of us out there who will succeed (or already have) because we don’t let the jerks get us down? That even if a publisher comes along to scoop us up, we know we were already successful?

Because you’re already a winner in my book, kid. How do I know? You’re going after a dream and refuse to let anyone stand in your way.

110 thoughts on “Why I’m Mad About Self-Publishing Stigma

  1. Suzy Turner says:

    Liz, you’re totally my hero! I LOVE this post and I’m so sorry you’re feeling so mad because of the way you’ve been treated. That university doesn’t deserve you. What a bunch of a******s! You’re amazing, you write amazing books and you are a famous writer to those in the know. They can shove it where the sun don’t shine. I ❤ you, girl!!
    Suzy x

    • LizLong says:

      I love YOU Suzy and thank you as always for reading! Nothing in particular has “happened” to me, but you know we see it everyday when trying to explain to strangers what we do. I hate that indies still have a bad rap despite all the great reads that are out there. But that means we just have to keep on keepin’ on and chase our dreams!! 🙂 xoxo

      • Suzy Turner says:

        I couldn’t have said it better myself, Liz. I’m lucky in that I haven’t seen so much of this myself. Most people are really impressed I’ve self published and if anyone does pull a face, I just smile even wider and tell them ‘I’m quite well known in certain circles, you know’ – while sticking my tongue out at them when they’re not looking 😉 xx

    • Meijein Kim says:

      I started researching the truth about the publishing world. It is not rocket science! Especially when no one knows what the next best seller will be! Taste is subjective. Social stigma bout self-publishing is to be expected unless you are personally engage in the game. Publishing companies panicked when self publishing concept was born, understandably so. Just as cab drivers hated UBER! The whole publishing landscape has changed drastically. If you can’t beat them, join them! Enjoy the process of writing a story and don’t get caught up in the ridiculous notion that of getting validation from a handful of traditional publishing companies. Big advances for E. L. James is the lottery ticket. Remember she already established a legion of fans! only then were the big houses interested in her. You can do it, write it and promote it yourself! Cheers!

  2. Jenn says:

    Ugh, YES. This post is 1000% true.

    My “favorite” is when people assume that you only go indie because you got rejected at traditional publishing houses. Yeah, sure, that’s how SOME people get here–and no judgments on my part if that’s their path–but there are SO many more reasons than just that.

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you Jenn! Agree completely. I did query and it was because of the “interesting but no idea where to put it” rejections that sent me on to my new path. I’ve never regretted it!

  3. Charlott Low says:

    Funny about your alma mater – never heard of them before your book, and I’ve been working in academia for 40 years (with universities around the world). What I’ve seen is that enrollments and graduates of liberal arts would be inspired and benefited by seeing a profile on indie writers because they have, in many cases, fought harder for their successes and found ways to go beyond expectation and around boundaries/walls set for them in a real world marketplace that silences the voices of so many.

    That stigma of indie writers may be prevalent still in whatever circles you are encountering it, but if it still exists among inveterate readers like myself, its quickly fading – and mostly due to writers like YOU.

    The underlying assumption by the unthinking eye rollers is that “indie writer of today = a vanity writer from decades ago”. I still recall the first time I heard of some one self-publishing and the general view that it more about the author’s vanity than it was about an interesting idea and the skill at manifesting it. Most vanity writers never wrote more than one book and rarely made even enough money to pay for the printing. That was back when publishers had not priced themselves out of most people’s lives. Reading incessantly means you visit libraries and, if you buy books, you buy them online. This has irrevocably changed the way folks read and how they choose what to read next.

    It seems to me those negative nancies are a lot like scientists who rate the value of professional paper written for a peer-reviewed technical journal as better than one written by a college alumni magazine even though the only bases of comparison are focus, intent, and articulation.

    I don’t give a hoot in hell who the publisher of a book is. I do not know a single reader who does. I seek books whose words flow off the page into my mind like a river’s flood waters. It may be filled with some garbage, but it’s energy and its might is undeniable. I want the illusion that I am not reading, not turning the pages, and not suspending my disbelief, but rather I am experiencing an alternative reality. Those words filling my senses with people and events too real to be one-dimensional. They are a magical spell that invokes images and emotions so wet and vivid that there is no moment when I cease to live in this world and start living in the one created for me by the writer. I am living a life different from my own, with experiences and opportunities that do not exist in my world. For some, that is escape from life, but for me it is enhancement of it. No publisher has the artistry to do this. YOU do.

    Keep on keeping on!

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you Charlott, for such a thoughtful comment and wise words. I couldn’t agree more! I think you hit the nail on the head: with buying books online at a click of a button, the entire landscape has changed and opened opportunities we never had before. THAT is certainly something to remember in this self-publishing stigma – more writers, sure, but far more readers!! And I will certainly keep fighting to be mentioned in their works – it just may take a while for me to try, try again!

  4. Tricia Drammeh says:

    Reblogged this on Tricia Drammeh and commented:
    Fantastic post and just what I needed to read today! THIS is why I don’t tell people about my books. THIS is why when a new acquaintance asks what I do for a living, I tell them about my part time accounting job instead of my writing career into which I’ve poured my heart and soul. THIS is why I haven’t contacted local book stores and libraries. I’ve been around the indie block enough to know about “the look.”

    Following a dream is an accomplishment. Thank you for the reminder.

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you for reading and reblogging! In the midst of everything, it’s important to know we’re not alone in this journey. Time to reach outside our comfort zones and contact those bookstores and libraries!

  5. MRS N, the Author says:

    What a brilliant post! I agree with you 1000%! Being an indie author is hard work but “the look” is the worst.

    Here’s what people need to realize: The publishing business is changing and more and more authors are “going indie”, even huge best-sellers. Why? They want more creative control over their books and products. People need to get on-board with the indie publishing mind-set or get left behind. The Big 6 are only publishing works by authors/celebrities who are a sure-thing and rejecting everyone else.

    I remember reading once people thought Henry Ford was off his rocker about the horseless carriage. He kept going and today, every family has 2.5 cars in their driveway.

    Pioneers like us need to keep breaking down the barriers!

    I love being an indie author! Who’s with me? 😀

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you for reading!! I’ve never once regretted my decision and in fact am very proud – so while those types of reactions bum me out, we have to do our best to keep moving forward. Reach for the dreams!!

  6. Author Massimo Marino says:

    Liz, I hear you and I agree with you, but …
    There are good independent authors, outstanding even, but blowing this horn doesn’t help because the reality is that for every good indie author there are 100 terrible ones who bring down the entire category and give fuel to every word of those saying the independent authors are at best a joke, at worst a bad joke.

    Good indie authors shouldn’t protect the entire category because it’s indefensible in the eyes of the majority of readers who cross 100 unedited self-published books, with non-existing story structure, with plot holes, POV head hopping, excruciatingly stupid cliff hangers, and more before they encounter a good book. Some stats (for example the ones from Hugh Howie – who started independent) tell us that only a slim percentage of independent writers sell more than 100 books in one year! and less than 10% earns reach $1,000 sales in one year as well. So, yes, there are good independent authors, serious and committed. The problem is that they are in the vast minority.

    I used to be as mad as you are, today. Not anymore. Truth is, good independent, serious, committed authors are a rare breed (statistically speaking).

    Self-publishing has created a marvelous thing: everyone can publish a book, and establish a one-to-many direct relationship with readers who buy and enjoy the new voices.

    There’s a terrible monster that haunts the publishing valleys, too: everyone can publish a book, and readers are exposed to the slush pile for the first time visible to the many.

    • LizLong says:

      I hear what you’re saying Massimo, and appreciate your reading my post. I do agree that there are those self-published authors who are…not so great. I don’t defend those who, as I mentioned, chuck up a first draft and expect the money to roll in. But for those of us who I DO respect, whose stories I read and share, who hustle harder than the rest, I will protect. There are a lot of us out there. I’m a firm believer that those terrible books will eventually fall off; yes there will always be more, but I want to give readers enough credit that they are smart and savvy enough to read good books. It’s the optimist in me, I suppose.

      • Author Massimo Marino says:

        I believed that, too, Liz, that those terrible books will eventually fall off, but do you know how many books are published on Amazon every month, and the trend is growing? I’m not so sure anymore.

        I also do protect and defend the good independent authors, I just don’t pretend anymore to generalize. As in writing, generalizations are useless. It’s the pessimist in me, I suppose.

        But I have regular examples reminding me that—maybe—it’s not exactly pessimism, it’s feet to ground. Try reading this and then let me have your impressions: http://massimomarinoauthor.com/the-self-published-writers-hubris/

      • LizLong says:

        I get it what you’re saying, really I do. But no matter the statistics, no matter the uphill climb (which I am very aware of, please don’t think I’m some doe-eyed sunshine-filled ignoramus), I will always keep following the dream of being a writer – whether anyone else feels that’s a real title due to publishers or not! 🙂

      • Author Massimo Marino says:

        But I guess you’ve already got what I meant with your words “those of us who I DO respect”

        So, not the self-published authors as large and in general, because when we do that the naysayers have much more ammunition than we can ever produce. We will always be seen as the ‘white flies.’

  7. Mary Blowers says:

    Reblogged this on Mary Blowers, Author and commented:
    Amen! If I’m the writer, editor, proofreader, publisher, marketer, and distributor, doesn’t that make me a little MORE than a traditionally published writer? In fact, traditionally books WERE all self published–think before the Gutenberg printing press. Self publishing gives you control. I know a “traditional” author whose publisher did not arrange for ANY book reviews. He also arranged many if not all of his own book signings. Though an audio book was in his contract, it has still not been released a year later. He lost the rights to publish his own e-book when his publisher refused to. Who has the better deal?

  8. Carmen Fox says:

    This is an amazing post. Awesome.

    I’m so sorry you’re having such a hard time with it. It stinks.
    When I self-publish, my books are edited with more rigor than the one my publisher had edited. That’s where my money goes, and each time a reader gets excited, I gain more confidence. Yes, readers make all the difference.

    Anyway, the other day I read an article by someone who said we’re concentrating on the wrong thing. The future isn’t about traditional vs self-publishing. The future’s about professional vs unprofessional publishing.

    Now, how about that?

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you for reading Carmen and for your thoughtful response. I don’t want to sound like a whiner – I’ve got it easy compared to many, with a support system that will fight for me every step of the way. But you know how it goes sometimes! I couldn’t agree more about professional vs unprofessional, which is certainly where things are going (if not there already). Because there are so many of us out there (see Massimo’s comment), I have to believe that the drivel will fall while the rest of us rise because readers are smart enough to come back for more.

  9. jeanette taylor ford says:

    I know what you mean. While I haven’t had the experiences you have had, I do get treated as though I’m ‘playing’ at book writing and people who see my books (paperback versions) say things like ‘oh it looks good, doesn’t it? I never thought it would look like that’ as if I’d just run it off on my printer. I’m sure it will take ages for me to get known, for my books to be read and appreciated by complete strangers (if ever) but whatever the opinions of ‘those out there’, I intend to carry on regardless.

    • LizLong says:

      Ha sometimes I do wonder if people think I just do this stuff at home. Trust me guys, we go to great length to insure professionalism! Here’s to breaking that stigma Jeanette!!

  10. sarastinson says:

    I will join the rant for a moment. I’m a retired teacher. I still sub in several schools. If you’re a teacher in Alabama, or you have a child in Alabama, you know how important Accelerated Reader books are.
    My goal is to have my books on their list. (They don’t accept Indie author’s books.) Most parents will not buy your book if it’s not an Accelerated Reader book. The students get points for reading AC books. Most librarians keep up with their points and the students are rewarded each time they meet so many points. In our area, one librarian has a huge party at the end of the year. It’s a wonderful program to encourage students to read.
    My books would sell like hot cakes if they were on the AC list. Librarians in schools and the city librarians in the surrounding areas are willing to carry my books. When schools have their book fairs, they’re willing to add my books to the fair. Still, most parents will not buy the book if it’s not on the AC list.
    I have donated and some librarians have bought my books for students to read. The students often tell me they wished my books were on the list.
    This is another area I’m hoping changes in the near future.

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you for your input and for reading! I agree about the frustration there and in local city/county libraries. Although I’ve made some possible progress in schools, thanks to a network of friends who are teachers wanting to take my books in to their students. That’s a great avenue for sure and I hope we can keep making strides to change their minds about indies.

  11. brittneysahin says:

    Great post! Thank you for sharing. It is sad there is a stigma associated with indie authors – that we even need to have labels … I never even sent my book to a traditional house or sought an agent (nothing against those who did by any means) – but I wanted to publish on my own (keep my rights, etc.). We are changing the face of publishing – which scares some people – but I say follow your dreams and let nothing stand in your way!!

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you for reading!! Once I stopped querying and self-published instead, I felt freer than ever before. I don’t regret it a bit – so let’s keep changing that face!!

  12. bookshelfbattle says:

    Not to knock Longwood University (never heard of it before) but that seems lame to offer and then rescind a story in an alumni magazine. People really put that much thought into an alumni magazine?

  13. Solveig says:

    Keep your head up high! I don’t think that indie published makes a writer less of a writer, but maybe I am too young to understand the pull of the traditional publishers…

  14. John Van Stry says:

    I just point at my BRZ and say ‘I bought that with my royalties’ and that tends to shut them up.

    What was fun, was that at my last job (which I quit to pursue writing full-time) occasionally someone would ask me in a meeting if those were my books on Amazon. Suddenly everyone knows I’m a writer and wants to talk about that instead of work.
    Definitely made some sales there!

  15. TanGental says:

    Yep spot on Liz. I’ve only just started on this self publishing game and already I’m P*****D OFF by everyone, when I say yes I’ve published a book, asking, oh who published it? I’ve started saying, ‘does it matter?’ ‘I’m just interested?’ ‘Why, are you thinking of finding a publisher?’ That tend to end it right there. It’s a mark of quality that some gimp in a box has decided to chose X over Y. Harumpf! Didn’t mean to sound off but this post has been a form of counselling; maybe you should pull together the best responses to the ‘and who publishes you?’ query and run a poll to find the best! Thank you!

    • LizLong says:

      Hey man, vent away. Thanks for reading and it’s always good to know we aren’t alone in the fight. We just gotta keep proving them wrong and producing well written work!!

    • John Van Stry says:

      I tell them: ‘It’s on Amazon’ and just leave it at that if I can. Then if people ask if I’m published with a big house or something such like that, I ask them ‘Why would I want to do that? I make more money doing it myself.’
      I’ve been dealing with these comments for a while now, so I’ve sort of developed rote responses to them. Very few people know just how poorly most publishers treat their authors when it comes time to pay them. If your name isn’t something like ‘Stephen King’, you get treated pretty poorly when they pay you.
      But don’t let the negative thoughts slow you down. I’ve been doing this for four years now, and while it can be rough, it can be immensely rewarding. So keep writing!

  16. guevaragem says:

    You’re a good writer, Liz, and I really enjoyed your post. I can only imagine your frustration. However, I agree with Massimo. While I cannot discredit the fact that there are diamonds hiding in growing piles of rhinestone (and I can tell you’re one of those diamonds), there are hundreds of indie-authors who tarnish the already feeble reputation of self-publishing. I’ve stumbled upon several poorly-edited novels, identified glaring plot holes, and mentally spell-checked the writing. These…well, deformed specimens were frightful enough to plant in my brain the stigma attached to independent authors. In all honesty, it is hard, in the self-publishing industry, to separate the good from the bad. I admire those who actually devote time polishing their manuscripts, hire editors, and send forth into cyberspace the best possible version of their story.

    • LizLong says:

      Thanks for reading and for your kind words. I admit you are of course correct on the poorer books in self publishing. I guess maybe one way I look at it is that I can hope to show readers one of the good guys. That they read my books or those I support and realize indies aren’t all bad 🙂

      • guevaragem says:

        I know for a fact that indies aren’t all bad. I’m a huge Amanda Hocking fan. I’ve also read several indie books that I couldn’t put down. Because I treat writing with great reverence I can’t get my head around the idea that some indie authors don’t bother to edit their own work. I don’t want to discourage anyone from writing, but it’s not everyone’s calling. Writing a book is a herculean endeavor. It’s soul-crushing project that deserves love and effort poured into it. It deserves respect and a good deal of editing.

      • Author Massimo Marino says:

        Guev, Liz, either you’re a professional or you’re not. The self-publishing revolution allows non professionals to spout “Look, I’m an author, too.”

        At the same time, it has allowed wonderful new voices that would not have had a chance to be discovered by readers because they don’t fit in in the pre-conceived ideas of publishers about what sells and what doesn’t, even if everybody knows of those hundred times rejected authors who went independent and sold millions.

        There are a few professionals hindered by a horde of “I’m the next Stephen King. I’ve just hit ‘publish,’ yeah!”

        In reality, nobody knows anything.

      • LizLong says:

        LOL I suppose that applies to life too Massimo.
        The catch with me is that I AM a professional. I’m also a magazine writer, so I definitely make sure that’s included when I talk about being a writer. Not everyone’s so lucky with that addition, so I try to be aware of that notion, too.

  17. tarathom1954 says:

    Oh, this feels so familiar to me. I am a self-published author, of very recent vintage, and I am feeling equally mad. So many times I have been ready to throw my hands up and say f*ck it all. But, I won’t let the morass I have thrown myself into drown me in negativity. I WILL be a respected writer someday. Well, as much as someone who writes in my genre ever is. Thankyou for showing me that it is not just me who feels that indie authors are as valid as the ones with the big name publishers. Personally, I found FSoG badly written…but who am I to question the authority of the Big 5 and their Editors?

    • LizLong says:

      I think the most important thing to remember is that the only competition we face is ourselves. We don’t need to compare our work to anyone else’s but some people don’t see it that way. That’s a struggle for me to overcome which results in sometimes feeling like self publishing is looked down upon. Thank you for reading and commenting – let’s just keep writing!!

  18. Maegan Provan says:

    Reblogged this on Maegan Provan, Author and commented:
    Such a fantastic post. I am guilty of being shy about admitting what I do, but I really shouldn’t be. NONE of us should be. We work our asses off, and doing everything on our own. We should be proud of what we do, regardless of what people think!

  19. Crissi Langwell says:

    This! Yes! I personally chose to not pursue a traditional publisher because A) I’m not looking for another boss, B) I want 100% rights to my work, and C) I want to publish what I want, when I want, and not have anyone or anything stand in my way. In doing so, I get 100% control over my work. I also get 100% of the expenses and responsibility for my work. I pay for my own cover art and editing. I learned how to format my books so I could save some money. I do all my own marketing from the ground up. I book my own appearances. And if I fail, I have ME to blame. Have I chosen an easy path? Absolutely not. Is one form of publishing better than the other? No, traditional just doesn’t appeal to me right now. Are there indie authors out there putting out terrible books? Of course. Without a filter to run through, it’s much easier for unedited books with bad storylines to be instantly published. However, there are also some real gems out there in the indie world, and there are a lot of authors who take the time to create wonderful stories that resonate with readers. Some of my favorite authors started out as self-published authors. Being an indie author is nothing to be ashamed of.

    • LizLong says:

      I couldn’t agree more with every word, Crissi, especially about that part about the real gems. There’s crap everywhere, in anything we like or do or try, but it’s the ones who stick around and play hard that end up succeeding. I believe that, no matter what anyone tells me, because it’s worked for me so far! Thank you for reading and your awesome comment!

  20. estyree says:

    What I love the most (sarcastically) is that I have great reviews, positive comments, etc. and my own grandparents will not accept that I’m an author. Not because it’s the job title ‘author’ (ok, well, maybe a little because of the job title) but because I’m indie. Honestly, I had a couple of agents and an editor that read my first book and flat out told me that it was awesome…and that the Big 5 were not looking for books like that at that moment…they still aren’t 3 years later. I was encouraged by the pros to take it to Indie and get my work out there…and people, including my grandparents, look at me like I’m a moron when I say “I’m a writer.”

    I’m a writing/ELA certified teacher and YA/MG/C/PB author, INDIE AUTHOR. So, instead of telling them to suck it…which I wanted to do badly…I helped my 85 5th graders put together a short story compilation last year. We published through createspace and now they get to say they’re published authors too. So you know what, stupid people that triggered two Liz’s rants, SUCK IT. A lot of our books are written better than some of your traditionally published, made into movies, sparkling arrow filled books. Because we don’t have the fall back. SUCK IT AGAIN. Mic Drop

    *I’m not going to lie here…that felt good. Great pep talk!*

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you!! And I’m glad you felt better after venting – I know I do! You’re a writer, dammit, and a proud indie at that. There’s not a thing in the world wrong with it. As long as we’re happy doing what we do, I think that’s the biggest reason we need overlook any critics, even if they’re family. I like that you mentioned you were encouraged by pros – as was I, and it meant a lot to me that they supported that journey as well. It made it feel much more viable and now I’m glad everyday that I did it!

  21. augustmacgregor says:

    You kicked serious butt with this post. I’m sure there will be Negative Nancys and Neds for a long time about self-published authors. But I believe the ranks of supporters are rising, due to the number of self-publishers who make it to best-seller lists. And I like how you mentioned getting good feedback from a reader. That kind of reaction will certainly push against the grumps of the world and remind you why you’re writing. It’s a huge success to make a connection like that. It’s a success to finish a book, and another success to have the courage to put it out there for people to read and criticize. Hopefully, the grumps will realize that some day.

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you for reading and for your comment! Honestly, it’s the readers that motivate me more than anything. Nothing is more exciting to me than getting an email or message asking about one of my books (especially as a “when’s the next one?!”). Can’t let the grumps get us down 😉 Besides, you’re right – it’s a success to finish a book and put it out there and that means I’m already happy with what I’m doing. Huzzah!

  22. Jane Risdon says:

    I am not self-published or Indie; my back ground is in music. The very same thing happened in the music business in the 80’90s when the big 5 got a shock and found that people could record in their bedrooms for a reasonable financial outlay and that they had the audacity to set up their own ‘indie’ labels. Look at the mess the music business is in today because of the slow, backward thinking attitudes of those who ran things back then. I worked in the international music industry most of my life and my artists were published/produced and released by both major and indie record labels. I know how these things work. The business changed with technology and I had to change and keep up or get lost in the flood. Now I write. I am published by a small publisher, and I looked around and thought about my experiences in the music biz – being one of hundreds on a major label who might get lost in the crowd (they only promote those who are already successful etc) and thought I might be better off with a smaller company. If I’d been turned down by everyone I would have gone the self-published route. There is no shame, no stigma as far as I am concerned. There is a market out there and it is willing to read new authors and material, so long as they know it is there. That is the hard part. Marketing. But even when you are on a major record label you have to get off you butt and do some self-promo and make sure you get involved at every stage to ensure your artistic integrity isn’t run rough-shod over. Go for it. You won’t know until you try. Wishing all self-published and traditionally published all the best. No guarantees, but at least you gave it your best shot. 🙂

    • LizLong says:

      I think you made the biggest point I could ever say myself – I gave it my best shot!! 🙂 Thanks for reading and for such an insightful look at your own experience. It’s always good to know that we aren’t alone, even across the board in other creative endeavors!

  23. Jane Risdon says:

    Indeed, I guess I can see the similarities. I had to learn about new technologies and the prejudices that went with them back then, so I guess I am sort of prepared for what is going on. I wish you all the best and getting a Rolls Royce is not what it is about, though I’m sure you won;t turn one down. 😉

  24. Ted Cross says:

    I also applied to my alma mater to have my books listed amongst the alumni in the bookstore, and they blew me off. You are right that there are some very high quality indie books out there, but we do have to acknowledge that these books get buried beneath a tsunami of poor quality books, and that is what taints us, even if it is unfair.

    • LizLong says:

      You’re right Ted – which is why I’m a firm believer in pushing forward. The only way to get above the poorly written books is to keep putting out good stuff! Thanks for reading!

  25. Kasi Blake says:

    Well, you are obviously doing something right. Look at how many comments from people who care about you, love your books, and feel the same way as you do. I know the look you’re talking about. The thing is, I used to get it when I was publishing with Harlequin too. Someone would get excited to hear I was published, and they’d ask about the book. When I told them it was with Harlequin, they’d get this glazed look in their eyes. Then they’d say, “Oh” or “I don’t read those” or something similar. I always feel like asking them, “How many books have you gotten published?”

    Self-publishing is harder than doing it with a publisher behind you. I’ve been published in every possible way now, and doing it all yourself is WAY harder than any other way. You have to make all the decisions about the cover, editing, formatting, marketing. And you have to do it alone.

    We really need to come up with a snappy comeback for these people. Stephen King always had some funny one-liners for every situation. Like when someone says, “I always wanted to write a book.” He’d say, “I always wanted to be a brain surgeon.” hahaha

    • LizLong says:

      LOL thank you for reading and commenting Kasi! I hate that you’ve had that same experience even with a publisher. It just goes to show that unless you’ve gone through the process of publishing a book (no matter the way), folks might not understand the work that goes into it! (Which makes me wonder if they think books grow on trees…or just magically poof out of thin air?)

  26. Kristen Steele says:

    Anyone who thinks that a self-published book is somehow a lesser accomplishment than having a traditionally published book has a misinformed opinion. Self-publishing is just as big of an accomplishment, if not more because of all the work that you have to do on your own that you can’t rely on a traditional publishing company to do for you.

  27. K. Lyn Wurth says:

    Thanks…I needed this today. I was just refused a review of my upcoming (second) novel’s ARC by a writer I really respect because she doesn’t “endorse self-published or vanity press books.” I work hard at being a professional, but I know a lot of people assume I’m second-rate before even reading my work (including some family members and my alma mater!). It’s a hard road, going it alone, but it’s my road and I love every step. That’s what keeps me going. Best to you in your self-publishing walk!

    • Liz Long says:

      Hey there, thanks for reading and I’m so glad it gave you a little push. We all need it sometimes! You’re not alone – plenty of community, including myself, to vent or talk to! Best of luck to you as well 🙂

      • Meijein N Kim says:

        My best friend and I are in the same boat. We are going to take charge of our own destiny. Subjective opinions by agents and editors of our work only lends itself to just that. Opinions are subjective! Publishing companies love the negative stigma of self-publishing. It works to their advantage since they now have to deal with knowing that they can no longer be the biggest fish in the pond. Especially when they do not know the next best any more than they can pick the right lottery number. I salute you for shedding light on this important issue.

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