The Stigma of Self-Publishing


We went out for dinner last night.  Over appetizers, I apologized to my husband and daughter in advance for ignoring them both completely this weekend. I have just two weekends left to work before BLOOD TOY heads off to copy editing, an outline to complete for Book 2, 450 unread emails to sort, daily blogs to finish, and eight pairs of shoes to list on eBay.  (I sell stuff on eBay to make extra money to fund my self-publishing venture, to pay for cover design, editing, stock art, and eventually promo.)

Anyway, after my apology, I further outlined my three year plan, which is to publish a novel every 3-4 months until I can begin to see a path to writing full time. I know it is a lofty goal, I explained, but if I don’t pursue it strategically, it will never happen. So that means writing 5 new pages every day, carving out time every weekend for editing and re-writing, and continuing self-promotion and networking. All of this on top of a 40-60 hour work week and a life. I am going to be busy for the foreseeable future, but my husband is supportive, and I believe it is important for my daughter to see my drive to succeed at this (vs. waiting for success to happen to me).

As I live in the South, it was not surprising to hear from the table beside us, “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I happened to overhear you’re a writer. What do you write?”

I told her I would be publishing BLOOD TOY, the first in my dark urban fantasy series, this summer. She asked if it was anything like The Hollows.  My work has definitely been influenced by Kim Harrison as well as Anne Rice, Patricia Briggs, Faith Hunter, Laurell K. Hamilton and many more.  I offered that beta readers said fans of the Anita Blake series would enjoy mine.

Her eyes got wide at that. “Old Anita or new Anita?”

It was a fair question. There seems to be more and weirder sex in every new book that Laurell K. Hamilton publishes in this series.  I told her, “Old Anita.” (She told me she stopped reading the series at Book 18.)

As she left, I invited her to look up my pen name on Facebook or WordPress as I don’t have business cards just yet. She asked me if I had anything published. I told her no, BLOOD TOY would be my debut novel. Her eyes seemed to get wider than when I mentioned Anita Blake. I can imagine it seems a bit naive for a new author to be discussing a three year plan to becoming a full time writer with nothing actually published yet, but I am a planner.

The she asked, “Not even self-published stuff?”

Which is, of course, what this whole blog is about. The addition of that tiny little conjunction tells me the self-publishing stigma is still alive and kicking. Self-publishing is a stepping stone to traditional publishing, right?  A consolation prize for those that can’t hack it in the bigs. I warrant I may be reading too much into this particular four letter word.

I wrote not long ago about why I am choosing to self-publish.  It has been one of my most popular posts so far, so the idea it is an inferior choice rankles me.  I cannot say that if I would not welcome a Big Five deal, but I have no intention of actively pursuing one. That is not part of my three year plan, nor is the possibility of being discovered and signed by one of them. My plan is to be the CEO and bread-and-butter of my own self-publishing empire.

What about you?  Is self-publishing your stepping stone or your end game?  Do you hold your indie author faves in as much regard as traditionally published ones?

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