As Shakespeare once said, “To self-publish or not to self-publish… that is the question!” Okay, so I may be paraphrasing here, but Shakespeare’s original line from Hamlet is not far from my own feelings today: indecision. Granted, my question does not deal with suicide, it does however, deal with a different type of death, creative death. Do you wait to be found by a giant publishing house, or do it yourself through blogs and eBooks in the hopes that you’ll reach your audience through a different route? I was talking with a friend the other day about this exact topic, and to be honest, after our discussion and much thought-gymnastics I am not sure that I am any wiser.
If you have the luxury of bookish connections, publishing, writing, then getting yourself and your creative endeavors out there can be easier. You have a strong publishing company to back you, pay you, and guide you through the production part of your creativity. The company somehow found you and believed enough in your words to put their money where your mouth is.
On the other hand, if you are not found by a company straight away… what should you do? Everyone can write a blog I guess? What’s that quote about opinions and butts? Everyone can self-publish, and how do you know if you’re actually good at what you do? You could be just one of those people who think they can sing, but sound like a dying cat when they’re on the X Factor stage? You can show your work to friends, but in my experience, most of them won’t read it. Or will say blanket statements like, “Yeah, it’s good.” or “Oh, I liked it.” To what extent can we ask the people around us to judge our works without bias or fear of hurting our feelings?
So, without any close guidance or divine publishing intervention, you may find yourself in a similar spot to myself. What do you do when you want to write, work in writing, make writing your whole life? I’m not sure what to say other than, “Go with your gut” (lame cliche I know).
Before I started my series, “Repeat After Me: Death, And other Essays” I had the ideas for these essays floating around in my head for months, years actually. I tested the waters with a few people, but most people told me I should be careful, don’t upset myself by bringing up the past, and my favourite question/concern: How can you make people want to read about death? It’s so morbid. Whilst, Penguin Publishing is not knocking on my door (any time now would be great guys!) I have had some unexpected responses from readers across WordPress and social media. Many people liked it. And despite the topic, felt comforted, relieved, and even excited to read more. But basing what you write and if you write based on what other people think is not good for you either, in the end. Ultimately, write and create because of how it makes you feel and only write because you cannot imagine yourself doing anything else. Then put your words out there and see what comes back.
If you never show your work to people, then how will you get your name, ideas, and stories out into the world? It’s completely terrifying to do, but you have nothing to lose. Right?
How do you feel about self-publishing? How do you overcome your fear of failure so you can keep on writing? Remember to share the reading love.