Sunday, April 29, 2007

I'll Show You! I'll Self-Publish!

A post from Rejection Collection:

This happened about ten years ago. I wrote an African folktale which was actually a project for an English class. Since it accounted for 50% of our grade and was a presentation, I made it into a book, very amateurish, but it looked fine and I received and A on the project and an A in the class. I was so proud of myself and encouraged by others in the class, I submitted it to a local publisher that specialized in children's book publishing.I don't remember nor do I think I have the actual [rejection] letter but I will never forget this phrase forever imbedded in my memory."This was a cute little story but we are not looking for submissions of this type at this time".

What bothered you the most about this letter?
The condenscending tone. This left a mark of insecurity on me. True, I didn't know the first thing about queries or submissions policy. Still I felt and still feel that it was a good story with a moral. I think I am going to dig it out, polish it up and resubmit or better yet, self-publish myself.

Yes, that was condescending. But think how much more condescending literate people are capable of being. And, when in doubt (or anger, or despair), refer to the rules of rejection.

What interests me is that the writer seems to be thinking, "I'll show that publisher! I'll self-publish!"
Uh... no.

If you don't care what other people think, then self-publishing is perfect for you. You just want a book to hold in your hands and maybe to give to friends as a gift. You don't care about the book appealing to buyers of books or reviewers of books. Which means you don't care about it appealing to publishers of books. Fine.

But if you are a person who just can't take what other people think, self-publishing is not a band-aid for your wounded ego. It won't prove anything to the publisher who rejected you. Because while you may harass a couple local bookstores into stocking your aspirations-made-manifest, you are never going to sell the 10,000 copies that would make a publisher think again.

I'm afraid that the majority of self-publishers are, in fact, in this latter group. They care what people think of their book, but they only want to hear about it if it's positive. All of the serious writers I know (both published and unpublished), know exactly what the problem with that is.

The moral of today's blog:
Rejection probably doesn't mean that you don't know what you're doing. Self-publishing probably does.


Anonymous said...

Yay! Finally, a truth-teller. Fantastic blog. I laughed through all 18 posts. Keep 'em coming. We need more like you in this business.

BTW, found you on the verla board. Adding to favorites.

My personal mission: cut the nation's slush by half. Thanks for the help.

Rudy Doyle said...

This is a great blog...I've been laughing myself silly! I also found it through the verla site. I look forward to more!

Anonymous said...

Love how you cut to the chase. Or to the quick.

Keep it up.

Paula said...

Pardon me while I laugh my ass off! Funny, funny stuff.

I've read a few "I'll show them" self-pubbed books and they were every bit as brutal reading as the intent was used to publish them.

CJ Omololu said...

Some evil person sent my kids a self-published picture book that was somewhere in the neighborhood of 3k words. NO self-respecting parent wants to sit down on the edge of the kid's bed at night and slog through that many words even if they were finely crafted. Which they weren't. It's too bad this particular book got "lost" so quickly. They sure showed me.

Anonymous said...

Self-publishing has its place, and can be moderately successful: a title tailored to an esoteric market, for example.

Revenge isn't that place.

(I found you through Children's Writing Update, by the way.)

I enjoy your site. Thanks for it.

Anonymous said...

Ah, well with this post, you have narrowed down your identity, because not all children's book editors share your views. I was at an SCBWI conference when, Angelle Pilkington said she considered self-publishing and selling more than 5000 copies as one fast-track out of the slush pile. (Her other suggestion was writing one book for a series.)

You are right that simply self-publishing does not prove anything, but self-publishing and selling a significant number of copies and/or turning a profit, does demonstrate something.

Anyone interested in considering this path (and it's not easy, but neither is breaking into traditional publishing), may want to read, Could You, Should You Self-Publish a Picture Book?

Rebecca said...

My mother picked up a handful of self-pubbed picture books at a woman's expo (tip-off #1), and, well, it was no surprise why the author had to self-publish.

Anonymous said...

When I announced to an acquaintance that I had a book coming out soon with a well-known publisher, he said, "How much did it cost you to have them publish it?"

That's what I don't like about self-publishers. They confuse people and make booksellers grouchy.