Writing Words With the Tips of My Toes
So this past year (well, really, two years) has been too hectic for me with a myriad of health issues I can’t even list for you on two hands. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia almost a year ago and bipolar disorder seven months ago, and both are two of the most unpredictable illnesses I’ve ever been struck with. I’m not treating my fibromyalgia because my parents and I suspected the Lyrica I was put on contributed to increased symptoms in my bipolar, and I’m still struggling to find meds to stabilize my mood since I’m rapid cycling Type I!
What do my health issues have to do with anything? Well, they’re the reasons I’ve mulled over the idea of self-publishing for a few months. I took a book production class last spring that made me realize just how hectic deadlines are, how everything needs to be edited and done on this set date or else everything is thrown off. With the unpredictability of my health, I don’t want to have to commit to something and then find I’m unable to do it. All my old commitments (my freelance tutoring and editing, even simple dates out with friends) had to constantly be obliterated because I was either in too much pain or too tired to do anything. Sometimes my medications even throw my concentration off, and my creativity thus becomes dulled. I’ll become less detail-oriented, so this can throw off what I’m able to do.
With self-publishing, I’ll be able to set my own deadlines, and even if I can’t meet those deadlines, the only inconvenience that will occur is that I will have to come up with a new deadline date.
Another reason I’ll be doing it is because, obviously, I’m going to have a career along with my writing one. Plus, ballet has been amazing therapy for my fibromyalgia, and I’d like to keep doing that. Before I was hospitalized the first time for bipolar, I was going to school full-time, working part time, and doing ballet. I couldn’t squeeze in writing at all because I’d be so exhausted, so fatigued, from doing even just three classes with no work or no ballet. Sometimes I just couldn’t sleep well. Sometimes I’d be depressed. Sometimes I’d be in a flare. Sometimes I’d wake up so fatigued I could barely stand at work. Thus, having a career and wanting to keep up with the physical therapy of ballet, I may not be able to write or even edit every day. At least with self-publishing there is no pressure to do this.
Last reason I’m going toward self-publishing is I will admit I am a control freak. I have not been happy with traditional publishing lately. I have friends going toward this route because they are tired of being told that their stories are great but agents or editors aren’t looking for those stories right now. These friends know their stories have promise but when they’re told their stories aren’t in the ‘in’ it boils down to marketing, what publishers think will sale, not what publishers think readers will delight in. Bottom line: It’s money. Obviously.
Government involvement is the reason I’m backing out of teaching and going into freelance tutoring/editing and/or tutoring with something like Sylvan or a university or whatever. It’s the same with my choice to self-publish. I’m not writing to appease publishers or agents. I’m writing for those who are going to read it. I don’t want some agent or publisher determining the worth of my book based on numbers. I want readers determining the worth of my book based on the story told within the pages. And even if I am traditionally published, my book has about as much of a chance selling well as if I were to self-publish it simply because I am not a known name. The only difference is I will make more money selling per book than I will with traditional publishing. I won’t have an advance, but there is no promise the advance will even be worth it in the first place.
Self-publishing will no doubt be more work, but as an unknown name, I likely wouldn’t have received marketing help traditionally published in the first place. At least with this route, I have control. I can pay an editor and will not have to worry about negotiations on changes the editor wants, as the money comes out of my pocket. I can design the book, I can design the cover, I can make the swag, and I can dictate when all of this gets done. I also have a feeling I will feel far more pride going in this direction knowing the majority of the work came from me. And if it all fails, it will all come down on me, but I won’t have to worry about being dropped from a contract. I can just write another book and keep trying. Heck, I hear independent publishers are pretty great too. They’re always a possibility if I find, before publishing, that marketing is too enormous of a boulder for me to carry.
Ultimately, my biggest reason for wanting to self-publish is that I want readers to be in control. I want readers to be the ones to tell me how to improve, where I went wrong, what they liked, what they disliked. They are the ones who buy books. They are the ones books are intended for. They are the reason many writers write.