#5. Fewer rejections.
After working in advertising, I’m pretty thick-skinned, but even for me a big pile of rejections – even kind ones – took on a certain critical mass after awhile. Not being able to publish sapped my desire to write original fiction (after some sad flailing about with attempts at more “marketable” revisions that I ultimately ended up discarding). This was perhaps especially true since I didn’t have any conviction that finally succeeding in publishing the first book would translate into a thriving career.
I have to applaud those who persist, like my friend Jenny Milchman, who doggedly wrote a number of novels before her official debut suspense novel, Cover of Snow, made it to print this year. It perhaps helped that she encountered some interest early on. Even when publication got THIS close and then nothing happened, she somehow drew strength from that and plowed ahead to develop what strikes me as quite possibly the best-crafted debut novelist’s platform in the entire history of publishing. Jenny is amazing!
Strangely enough, though, watching her and a number of other well-published authors at a lively, well-attended writer’s panel at The Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza this last spring helped clarify for me that I just didn’t want to do things that way. (That’s assuming I even could, of course, but this is called Sheer Hubris Press for a reason.)
#4. Now I have a reason to keep writing!
See above. Sales would be very nice, but the truth is that simply getting some thoughtful reviews from total strangers would be enough to keep me happily writing. But without any reasonable hope of ever finding an audience during my lifetime,? Writing is really a conversation with the readers you hope are out there. Here’s my chance — I hope — to find some and hear something back once in awhile.
#3. I don’t have to hide my (shhhh!) fanfic habit.
The success of Shades of Grey has perhaps made it more acceptable for writers to have a fanfic background, and in science fiction there has long been a tradition of moving from fanfic to publication. In my genre it’s far more likely to generate pitying smiles. Therefore I’ve generally tried to keep my fanfic habit separate from my professional life.
But the thing is, I’ve had tremendous fun with fanfic. It’s allowed me to ‘publish’ at will, earn reviews, gain loyal readers from around the world, and make some wonderful friends. As an indie-published author, I don’t need to worry about being ‘outed.’ The folks who are likely to sneer at such things will already be sneering at me for self-publishing.
Instead I can out myself and hope it will gain me a few sales … and in fact it already has. In fact, I suspect that writing more fanfic in other fandoms, especially larger ones, or those more closely related to my novel genre, might actually be the single most productive way to market my original work. Or it might be if I had unlimited time, anyway.
The last two reasons come Monday. (I’m going to try to stick to a Monday and Wednesday publishing schedule here.) How about you? If you’re a self-published writer, what are your reasons for doing this?