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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Self-publishing

I'm tempted to self-publish my novels. However, I know the chances of them being widely read are minimal at best. If they're not good enough to get published through the agent-editor method, then they probably aren't ready for publication for any number of reasons. They just might not even be interesting. (I've entered some of my novels in contests, and the reviewers said their opening chapters weren't interesting enough to make them want to read on.) They might have structural problems. My grammar and spelling are mostly correct. But it does seem that, as my writing groups read my novels, they almost always find little things that can be improved. They find redundancies, mixing up of characters' names, inaccuracies of historical facts, some grammar/spelling issues, metaphors that don't work, images that really don't convey what I'm trying to convey. The list goes on. If I self-publish, I'm putting it all out there for my embarrassment. Perfection is impossible, but excellence isn't, and excellence (a difficult quality to define, it's different things to different people ) should be one of the aims of a writer. I'm sure there have been less than excellently written books that have been published through traditional methods and even hit the best-seller list. To a certain extent, it's a matter of pride in your work. I don't want to be ridiculed even as I laugh all the way to the bank.

But self-publishing is tempting. A book is a physical object we can show our family and friends, perhaps even ourselves, that we've done something, that, at least, we tried. (This is not meant to imply that all self-published books are poorly written, or even that the majority of them are. It just means that you can put a poorly written book out there if you want to. It's your money. The writter and editor, if there is one, of a self-published book, should have the same commitment to excellence as those of traditionally published books.) For now, I'm passing on self-publishing. I view it as a last option. But I'm always open to change.
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