Opinions, as the saying goes, are like arseholes, everybody’s got one, and some people are closer to theirs than others. As a rule, therefore, I find I only trust the opinions of those who have first proved not to ride too close to their rectum when they voice theirs. However, no matter how hard you try to ignore opinions you consider invalid or ill-informed or just plain insulting, just because you may know for certain that the opinion doesn’t hold any water, doesn’t mean you can discount it, because the opinions of others will always get through even the thickest skin.
And why? You ask, am I telling you all this, something you have probably worked out for yourself, and indeed have an opinion about. Well, there is one opinion in particular that has always bugged the hell out of me. An opinion which gets under my skin and crawls about like a cockroach thankfully never could, (except in movies about Mummy, the bandaged kind not the raisers of children). An opinion that while I utterly reject its implication, nags at me, because it eats where I live. Unlike, thankfully, cockroaches.
You’re a published author, that’s awesome… oh… you’re just self published?
Well, yer that’s great too…
And just like that the person speaking has devalued all the hard work, all your beautifully crafted plots and characters, the hours, days, week, months and frankly years you have spent creating something both uniquely different and entirely wonderful. Even if that’s is only in your own opinion.
And look, I get it, I understand the confusion, I understand why people may think that. I do. I really do. But that doesn’t mean its not a bullshit opinion. That doesn’t mean it isn’t downright insulting and it doesn’t mean the writer who self-publishes should pay such opinions the slightest heed. But we all do, in our dark moments, in those moments of self-doubt that sap the soul and eat away at the core of our existence. On those dark winter nights when you’re writing. When you’ve sat alone in front of the word processor, fighting the urge to just say ‘sod this for a lark’ and go to bed, or find another vocation that doesn’t isolate you from the world and give you nothing in return when the words just won’t flow… On those dark nights, in those small hours between the time you should have gone to bed and the time you have to be up to go to the day job that pays for the bills, on those dark nights…
Oh… you’re just self-published?
Maybe the biggest bullshit insulting opinion in the world, but on those dark nights, it really eats at you and =you may even start to believe it’s true…
And more than that, there are people in the world, lots of people in the world, who will not read a self-published book because they believe it can not possibly be of value, or be well written, or add something to the greater zeitgeist of human achievement. To be self-published is in the opinion of many, to be less than. To be unworthy of their time. A poor imitation of good writing, written by a wannabe who isn’t really a writer. No, they would sooner read another James Patterson churned out thriller, co-authored because he could not even be bothered to write it himself. Or the new Dan Brown that so big in the airports this spring… They would sooner read another Neil Gaiman novel that… actually scratch that, everyone should read another Neil Geiman novel… And the next Stephen King.. and so many other great writers, even, if it floats your boat, Dan Brown, though I would question your judgment if that was the case. Just not Patterson, okay, never Patterson… Oh yer shitty opinions, everybody has them even me…
But as much as I can happily say with full confidence that to be Self-published doesn’t make you any less of a writer, and doesn’t devalue the worth and quality of your work, there will always be those who think otherwise, and such opinion when voiced will eventually get to anyone. Even thick skinned Yorkshiremen on lonely nights at the word processor trying to make themselves keep on writing, will when it’s hard and it is seldom easy, wonder to themselves if all those detractors are right. If your self-publish novels are really worth the paper they are printed on. If you’re just fooling yourself and or trying to fool the world into believing something that just isn’t true. Because you self-publish, and yes you have reasons you chose to do so, and yes you have never submitted a book to a big publishing house because you don’t want to go that route, but maybe deep inside you know its because you aren’t actually a good writer, that your books are rubbish and they would never actually get published…
Because doubt gets to everyone, and bullshit opinions, much as we would have it otherwise, feed self-doubt…
To date, I’ve self-published everything, well everything I have been prepared to put out into the world. I get my books edited and proofed, but otherwise, everything my own work, I make my own covers, I typeset them, I build them, I do the lot… I am enormously proud of my novels, and I think when the nights ain’t dark, and self-doubt is not eating away, that my novels stand up against anything that a big publishing house can put out, and can sit with pride alongside the work of any traditionally published author. I write great books people love to read, not just friend, not just family, but people out there in the real world who don’t know me. I have made friends with many of my readers, but only after they’ve read the books. And I love self-publishing, and self-publishers, some of the best books I have read in recent years have been indie press novels. So I don’t care if I never have a book published by a traditional publisher, and I am not actively trying to do so.
I have however just had a short story published in an anthology by a real honest to goodness publishing house. So no longer will I have to nod and smile and pretend I have not just been insulted by dismissal when someone says
Oh… you’re just self-published?
No. I’m not just self-published at all. I am a published author, who just happens to have some self-published novels as well as traditionally published work.
Self-publishing is wonderful, I encourage anyone who has put the work into writing to consider it, and those who do to ignore the detractors, even in the dark hours, even when that detractor is yourself. But I can’t pretend it is not exciting and that it doesn’t feel good, to have some work published the traditional way.
But then that’s just my opinion…
PS. I mention all this because I got my authors copies of Harvey Duckman Presents Vol 1 today. Which is released upon the world in a couple of weeks time and can be pre-ordered on kindle now. Featuring not only me but 13 other wonderful writers, both new and established. Click on the picture above to learn more
“or find another vocation that doesn’t isolate you from the world” But I want a vocation that isolates me from the world. 🙂 If I wanted to be around people, I’d go back to teaching art.
Maybe I developed an immunity to the worst effects of the ‘self-published authors aren’t real authors’ attitude because I write science fiction, and people who write any sort of speculative fiction (all the various “not real fiction” genres) have always been told that they’re not real authors. Just had your eighth epic fantasy tome published by Baen or Tor? Doesn’t matter — in the eyes of a lot of people, you’re still not a real author and never will be, because you write fantasy, and that’s not real.
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Oh I have even less time for the ‘genre fiction is not real fiction’ brigade than I do for ‘self-pub authors are not real authors’ idiots, the latter just displays basic ignorance, the former, well anyone who says that is the kind of person who buys a Salmon Rushdie book because it is ‘intellectual’ and puts it on the coffee table in the hopes their friends notice they are ‘intellectual’ without them ever actually reading the book.
(I’ve read a couple of Rushdie novels, they are good reads, but they’re not Neil Geiman, Terry Pratchett, David Gemmell, Ray Bradbury good)
I’ve written a contemporary fiction and I’ve written genre fiction. Contemporary is just another genre. Both require no less work, no less skill, and no less talent, as I am more than happy to explain to anyone who throws ‘genre fiction is not real fiction’ in my direction.
And yes I know I am preaching to the choir.
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