This post was suppose to be written a while ago. I was suppose to come and celebrate the fact that I was liberating myself from the merry-go-round of submissions and contests. That I am going the route of independence and self publishing my work. It was supposed to be a true and happy declaration!
Yet as time passes, I find this one of the hardest posts to write. Despite the positives of going on my own path, I keep flipping through all the negative things I THINK it means.
As I plan and research my methods for self publication, I quietly wait for the results of my submissions from the past few months. With no takers, I am conflicted with wanting the affirmation of a press and being tired of letting my manuscripts just sit there.
The last manuscript has been finished since mid-summer. I spent a chuck of the summer taking a writing course and getting lost in life. Late Night Feelings and Home Sweet Home were under consideration at certain presses since around April and June. In the meantime, work was just sitting there. Waiting, just like the scribe.
It was after one particular rejection, my thought process went like this: This is such a waste of time! I can't even get feedback on what's wrong with my manuscripts. Maybe it's the mix, maybe it's the order? I just don't know why no one is biting when I hear often that I am a good poet. Maybe I'm not good enough? Well excuse me if I don't have a fancy MFA or even a direct degree in Creative Writing to know how to craft my manuscripts well. Heck, school doesn't even get into the real nitty gritty of the writing life. A lot of it, I taught or sought after myself. I've done a lot of this on my own...
When I got to that last thought, that's when it clicked for me. I have done a lot of this on my own. No one had ever sat down with me and told me this is how you advance in your craft. I had no mentors I could always run to. I had books on the craft of poetry, some college courses that had really stuck with me, the feedback from other writers occasionally, and the internet. If I have gotten myself to the point where I could create a manuscript of poetry for a chapbook, then I am certainly capable of putting it out on my own.
I have ideas for each manuscript, from cover to layout to ways of promoting each finished book. While a press can get me in front of an audience that has already been loyal to their brand and give me the satisfaction of being believed in, they have the ability to compromise my ideas.
I worked too hard on these manuscripts to compromise any further. Plus all of the money spent to have a couple of people read my manuscripts, only to get a no with no feedback as to why? No, I could take that money, create the book myself, and have the world read it and tell me no, inviting feedback if they want to give it.
The whole thought process to come to this decision scared me. Willing to let the world tell me no? My goodness! As a person whose whole life has been filled with unwelcomed rejection, inviting it in was a new concept to me. Intentionally inviting it in. Then I would be investing in my own round of rejection too. What if I print out 100 books to sell and no one wants a single copy? There are so many doubts that accompany self publishing. It's not as easy as they make it seem to be. As it becomes more acceptable to self publish and the tools and resources become more readily available, it becomes that much harder to stand out.
My biggest worry is the ability to put my work in the perfect order. Unlike a story, whose order can be determined as it is written, poems are written during any given time. I worry that if I cannot get the order together that the overall theme will be lost to the reader. My work is very personal, but I always try to unite the reader to the experience so they can make it their own. And every experience has a beginning, middle, and end. I want you as the reader to get that. I guess that's why I'm still holding on to the manuscripts.
I have other minor worries as well such as the actual cost of self-publishing, book design, and more importantly my ability to sell the books I will be putting my blood, sweat, and tears into (yes that was so cliche to say). These fears do slow down progress a bit. I am pushing pass them everyday though because god forbid something happens and I don't get to publish my work. Maybe it would be nice to be a great tragedy and to have my work appreciated like many greats whose work was discovered after leaving this earth. BUT I really want to enjoy my work so I can create more. The addiction is poem creation, not book creation. Books are just a way to expose people to my work so as I create more, people would want to check out what else I'm creating.
So now I am on this journey of self -publishing. Before I try to publish my three main manuscripts, I have been experimenting with different ways of publishing. Towards the end of the summer, I discovered an app for the iPhone, iPad, and Android called Creative Book Builder. This app allows you to create interactive e-books. We are not talking about e-books that little kids can make featuring their drawings and a few words (apps like these have become a growing trend; good to start young, but hardly a solution for adults). This app can make you an e-book that you can read in iBooks and other e-readers. The books look legit. I spent a month carefully crafting an e-book titled Beloved. It is technically my first book, but I am hellbent on making Late Night Feelings my first official book - as well as exploring all of my publishing options. Later on this week on the main Write Queen blog, I will be doing a review on Creative Book Builder, a steal at $3.99, by Tiger Ng. Since putting out Beloved I have made Bitten In The Wake of Dusk an e-book and have made a mini haiku book called When You Down A Margarita.
Now I am sure you are wondering, How can I help? (Okay maybe not, but I hope you think about it now).
Well any writers who can send me info about self-publishing would definitely become my favorite people in the world. You can spread the word about my e-books by promoting my store link (after downloading them yourself of course). And you can donate to my fundraiser where you will receive a lot of perks for being a part of the process on GoFundMe.com. If the minimum for the fundraiser is a little too much for you, you can pay-as-you-wish when you download my e-books. Even 25 cents helps. But what helps even more is spreading the word, so spread the word and help me get to my goal.
Until next time my loves, be well and hey, maybe we can work on our future books together ;)