Mad in Pursuit Notebook

vanity

Self-Publishing: Vanity or Gift?

Oct 25, 2015. When I was growing up the "vanity press" was for egotists who had enough dough to order up 500 copies of their bloviations and enough attic space to keep them piled high in perpetuity--or that's how it was perceived by those other egotists, those snobs who persuaded mainstream publishers and small presses to back them, thus achieving societal validation.

But now the game has changed. Anyone with a word processing app and an internet connection can produce a book, either paperback or ebook. Poets, geniuses, genre hacks, and pornographers have all rushed in to circumvent the humiliations and the loss of rights associated with old school publishing. In music and in movies, "indie" suggests original thinking, fresh energy, and independence from broken systems. But in book land, "indie" still carries the aroma of egotistical losers at the mainstream game. Hobbyists.

So what is ego, anyway? If you have a talent, isn't it a sin to let it go to waste? And, sooner or later, art demands an audience. To get an audience, the artist must present herself. That alone can be scary and humiliating. Artists work on our craft with the hope that pained looks and eyerolls will eventually become applause. Seems like an artist gets tarred with the label "egotist" when her demand for applause outstrips her skills.

At some point in every writing project, I have to ask, "Who do I think I am? Can I really ask someone to invest hours of their precious time on the output of my imagination?"

Each time, I have to talk myself off the ledge. It goes like this:

:: The world needs writers. Even if fewer people read for pleasure, writers are still needed for TV, movies, games. Storytelling and story engagement is what humans do.

:: And my whole life has been inspired by novels, from Nancy Drew to Toni Morrison. Fiction entertains, informs, educates, and, at its best, taps into the wisdom of the ages. I can aspire to that. Why in the world would I ever think that writing fiction is a silly waste of time? Maybe if it doesn't go anywhere, maybe if it's self-indulgent and crappy and never finished... But how can any creative activity be more wasteful than sitting in front of the TV for endless hours watching other people's fictions?

:: Many people I know don't read novels. Or if they do, they like romance or science fiction or mystery series. My writing isn't for them. My gift is for people who like to sink into a good suspense/thriller, who enjoy arm-chair travel, and who are intrigued by international art markets. I need to be out there for them to find me.

:: Finally, I always have to dig out this quote:

 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. [Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles]

So, I'm going to ignore the chattering in my ear about the folly of writing stories. I will write. I will rewrite. And I will earn my audience.

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More reading about the industry:

"Publishing Is Broken, We're Drowning in Indie Books -- and That's a Good Thing" by David Vinjamuri (Forbes Aug 15, 2012)

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THE SUDDEN SILENCE: A Tale of Suspense and Found Treasure (2015) Thailand: lovers of ancient treasure tangle with international black markets. Delia Rivera pulls Martin Moon back into the game and their quest turns deadly. In paperback and Kindle editions.

TRIBE OF THE BREAKAWAY BEADS: Book of Exits and Fresh Starts (2011) Time after time, Mary asks herself: Do I go or do I stay? She finds her power in her ancestors: Smart women turn discontent into action. An illustrated memoir in paperback and Kindle editions.

PASSION AND PERIL ON THE SILK ROAD: A Thriller in Pakistan and China (2008) The twin forces of revenge and redemption drive Nellie MacKenzie and Taylor Jackson on a crazed adventure into the heart of Central Asia. They grapple with issues of ethics, trust, rage, and bitter heartbreak -- as well as the intrigue of the international antiquities trade. In paperback and Kindle editions.

 

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