This post is also available in a podcast: https://soundcloud.com/hopeclark/trying-to-self-publish (or click on image at bottom of page).
Saw this phrase twice recently, on two different blogs. “Trying to self publish.”
Those words irritate me like fingernails on a chalk board, fork tines on china, grinding teeth. You get the point. But probably not in the manner I mean . . . the manner I want to hammer home. And I love to hammer home points.People are entitled to self-publish. Of course they are. I’ve self-published. I’m a hybrid with my nonfiction being self-published (The Shy Writer Reborn) and my fiction traditionally published (The Carolina Slade Mystery Series), and if Carolina Slade ever gets dropped by my publisher, I’ll self-publish her. It’s nice to know I have that option. (**Since this podcast aired, I’ve traditionally published four books in The Edisto Island Mystery Series as well)
But I’ll tell you one thing . . . I won’t TRY to self-publish her. I’ll go out there, jump in with both feet and damn well DO it. What’s with this trying business?
I grasp TRYING to traditionally publish, because there are so many gatekeepers who have to give you that magical nod for it to happen. You TRY because someone else opens the door for you. If they don’t open the door, you don’t publish, at least with them. Okay, makes sense.
But you don’t TRY to self publish. I didn’t TRY squat when I self-published. I made up my mind to self-pub and did it. It’s like being pregnant. You are or you aren’t. You self-pub or you don’t.
I think because we have options with self-publishing, you know, without all the gatekeepers telling us what we can do, we call it trying. But when I looked up TRYING in the dictionary, the crankier I got at those who say they TRY to self-publish.
1) to make an effort to do something : to attempt to accomplish or complete something.
2) to do or use (something) in order to see if it works or will be successful.
3) to do or use (something) in order to find out if you like it.
That’s straight out of Merriam-Webster, honey.
In The Shy Writer Reborn, I harp on removing words like BUT, ONLY, NOT, NEVER and JUST from your vocabulary when speaking of your writing abilities and efforts. It’s self-deprecating.
From The Shy Writer Reborn, page 41:
“Ever catch yourself studying someone successful, not necessarily rich and powerful, but someone maybe only a few notches above your common quest. In seconds, you allow a sense of discouragement to drape over your shoulders, oppressing you with the idea you can’t be that good.
You see a family’s portrait, love their captured laughter, then hate the fact you are no longer close to your sister. You bite into a cake made in heaven and kick yourself for stopping at the bakery instead of making your pie from scratch. You read a published book in your genre, in a setting you’ve used, possibly centered around a character not too far distant from your own, and you curse about being too inept a writer to do as well as that author.
We hobble ourselves so that others can’t point fingers first. If we know we are less than stellar, nobody can surprise us with accusations. It’s a way of protecting ourselves from rejection.”
I’d like to add the word TRY to that list of words that hold us back. Avoid disclaimer words.
People gravitate to confident people. They don’t want to be around people who are TRYING to be good. They want to be around good people. They don’t want to read books from people who TRIED self-publishing. They want to be around those who confidently published their book.
A favorite saying of mine is simply this: OWN WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO DO. Pick your path then strike out without looking back. Stomp that trail. March to your drummer. Sling your writing into the bright sunshine using all the power and talent you have. Sling it hard. You want the world to read every word. This work is your legacy.
You don’t try to publish…you publish.
You don’t try to write well…you write well.
You don’t try to promote your work…you promote your work.
If you think you’ve written and edited something worth publishing . . .
If you think you’re ready to see your work in print . . .
If you think you’re ready to sell your work with confidence, then do it.
Do it loud, hard, with passion. Be not afraid to let the human race know what you’ve done.
The minute you say you are TRYING to do something, I hear hesitation and self-doubt as do agents, readers, publishers, editors, and more. I’m telling you, owning who you are and what you do is powerful, and more than a few people will look twice at you, wanting a taste of that you’re drinking, because whatever it is, it makes you appear more alive than they are.
You can TRY or you can DO. Readers can tell the difference.