I’m a couple of months away from writing and publishing full-time now. After 18 years as a massage therapist, I’m seeing an unflattering commonality between professions. Writers and massage therapists both seem to want respect desperately. And that’s the problem.
As I move into writing full-time, I see some of the same mistakes among the self-published that I witnessed in my (soon-to-be-former) occupation. Massage therapists want respect so badly they often give up their power to other health care practitioners and bureaucrats . That’s not how to gain respect. They should get respect by doing great things rather than trying to regulate to the lowest common denominator. (But that’s another rant about having a shred of dignity for another time and place.)
As writers seeking respect, we must give respect, but not require it of others artificially. Instead of respect, I suggest we seek out a readership.Respect must arise organically from circumstance and accomplishment. We have to do what we do well. That is all that’s needed. There’s a lot to that process, of course. Writing well, editing well, proofing well, formatting well, publishing with as few mistakes as possible…makes the head spin, doesn’t it? Most of all, tell a good story that keeps readers engaged. Sell a lot of books. Ultimately, sales will really get the attention of naysayers (and then they’ll really get cranky with you!)
Until then, self-published authors are called wannabes, amateurs, pretenders, unvetted, unproven, and unserious hobbyists.
Don’t worry about that.
You can mount a number of logical, fiscally sound arguments worthy of Joe Konrath, but until you deliver on the numbers, you’re just another “one of those.”
Sales figures aren’t subjective.
In my crotchety opinion, the best thing self-published authors can do is stay the course and ignore naysayers. Don’t even try to convince them. Let your success with readers be your argument. You know why, right? Because some publishers and critics and traditionally published authors don’t want to concede anything. They don’t want to give what you’re doing any respect. They fear change. They don’t want to like you. Maybe that will come later. (I’m not saying all critics and legacy authors want to dislike you, of course. However, the naysayers are loud and already get too much attention. They can hurt your feelings and sap your motivation if you give them your energy.)
You know who does want to like what you do? People who like stories. Readers. Readers and writers are not the same group. Readers differ from writers in number, grammar fetish, decibels, expertise, enjoyment and predisposition. Readers want to like your story and they want to like you. Cater to the right audience and maybe someday the naysayers will come around. If they don’t, either you didn’t do a good job or they are very determined snobs. If it’s the former, improve and carry on. If it’s the latter, screw ’em. Not everybody has to love you.
Wanting love without needing it from just any bonehead?
That’s the beginning of self-respect.
- Self-publishing: The Couch Change Economy vs. The Great Personality Argument (chazzwrites.wordpress.com)
- Don’t listen to writers too much (chazzwrites.wordpress.com)
- TOP TEN: The divide between the published and the self-published (chazzwrites.wordpress.com)