Today I came across a post stating that self-published writers can’t really say that they’re published, because self-publishing is so “easy” and doesn’t require the same amount of work that goes into traditional publishing, and only writers with books published by traditional publishing houses can ever have the “PUBLISHED” label slapped onto their foreheads. As a self-published writer, I have to say that I was a bit miffed (okay I was more than a bit miffed) and indignant. To think that all this time I’ve been calling myself a published writer only to find that I’m actually not according to some people. My eye twitched.
I guess it’s easy to look down on self-published writers because they might not know what the process entails. But we are published writers. We are also editors, proofreaders, cover designers, marketers, campaign managers, e-book designers, social media experts and publishers.
Sure there may be some (well alright, many) people who don’t put any effort in their novels and publish them the moment they’ve finished writing and putting together a careless cover, but that doesn’t mean the rest are like them. During my time on WordPress, I’ve come across people who revise their work three, four and even five times, agonizing over every single detail and losing sleep to try and make sure their work is as perfect as can be. Many can’t afford editors or designers, so they have to do all the work themselves. It’s an exhausting and emotionally draining process, to say the least, because self-published writers control every aspect of their way to publishing, thus any mistake will ultimately come back to them.
Just because we’re self-published doesn’t mean we’re lazy or that our work sucks. “If you really want to be taken seriously, you need to go down the traditional route,” they say. But really… it’s easier said than done. These days it feels like traditional publishing is about being in the right place and at the right time, or about writing what’s currently popular in the market. There are so many agents and publishing houses out there, but yet it’s become increasingly difficult to land a publishing deal.
With so many people writing these days (thanks to NaNoWriMo and other such competitions), agents and publishing houses probably need to be more selective. They probably pick out one author out of hundreds… and where does that leave the rest? Should they just keep querying all the time despite the possibility that they may never receive a single “Yes”, or should they try to self-publish instead?
It should be noted that self-publishing is definitely NOT the easy way out. We do not have a whole professional team backing us up. It’s just us and what little help we can get. It’s hard and time-consuming, but we do it because we want our work to be read by others. We’re not in it for the money, but rather for the satisfaction of knowing that we did it. We became published writers.
What’s your take on this? Has anyone told you that you’re not really published before?