I think most people have heard about the “For…dummies” series. Math…for dummies; GRE…for dummies; SAT…for dummies; and of course Self-Publishing…for dummies. The fascinating thing about this series is that it is essentially calling people idiots—and still getting them to buy their books. Its ingenious things like this that make me wonder, why I was not so brilliant. What? I get to call people dopes and actually get paid! I like doing that for free! Sign me up please.
Dummies aside, I find that the most frustrating thing for any writer looking to get published, is the realization that publishers aren’t breaking down their doors, begging to broadcast their literary masterpiece. Like what? I’m not the next J.K. Rowling? You don’t say. So instead of applause you get the proverbial, cricket…cricket. This, in addition to the over-inflated college degree, the equally over-inflated college loans you have to pay back, and the eighth job interview with no call-back, and you suddenly begin to feel crushed with the enormous burdens of life. This is your dream, your passion…and no one gives a damn.
Now after a lot of self-loathing, pity, and Netflix, you may have decided to say to hell with the mainstream publishing companies. You’re going to be an independent author! Yes—who needs big corporate America bullshit! I’m a woman (or a man), hear me ROARRRRR!!! But then, after that brief moment of indulging in your narcissistic euphoria, you begin to slowly come back down to earth. You think of things like budgets, or glossy advertising, and accessibility to a wider audience—all of the things which are not readily available to the self-published and usually economically challenged (at least in my case) writer. Not to mention that you have to do a lot yourself. There’s nothing like trying to edit your work for the 50th time, and formatting it on word, because you don’t have fancy software like Adobe InDesign that makes you want to throw money at someone—if you had it.
So in light of all this, I suppose the question is, is the self-published author a dummy? Call me naïve, but I think not. I say this, not only because I am one (and my mama didn’t raise no fool), but because even if you did manage to get published through a mainstream publishing house, there is still no guarantee that you will be a success. If Pippa Middleton, with a Duchess as a sister, a Prince for a brother-in-law, and an ass with its own fan page, couldn’t make headway in the publishing world (and subsequently was dropped by her agent), then you know nothing is a guarantee. Self-promotion is required for the mainstream author, as well as the self-published one.
Of course, I certainly don’t pretend to be an expert in all that is required in being a success, as there is much I still have to learn. However, I do believe that it is important to believe in yourself—no matter how cliché that sounds. You should also be willing to invest in your work. I’m a firm believer in the concept; you get what you pay for. If you put nothing in—it will most likely show. Do not underestimate the importance of an editor (I learned this the hard way); also having a professionally designed cover, is key to making your work stand out more. Do your homework, and when it’s all said and done—roll the dice. Regardless of the outcome, doing something is better than doing nothing. In the words of advertising executive, Donny Deutsch, “If you can’t embrace failure, or the possibility of failure, or the tremendous fear of failure, you can’t be wildly successful.”