There comes a day when you have to throw off your felted merkin and tell it like it is. Today is that day. Ladies and gentlemen, I have self-published a book. Oh, what’s that? You couldn’t give a fuck? Well I can’t blame you, I kind of feel that way myself. After all, the internet is a morass of poorly written, self- published drivel. I mean, ask yourself this; Was self-publishing invented by:
- A) A marketing genius who recognised that the internet was simultaneously creating an entirely new sense of individualism and democratising the human desire to express it,
- B) A marketing genius who identified a troubling dearth of erotic sci-fi penned by thick-thighed IT administrators, meatily sweating their way through consecutive paragraphs of clunky sex while sucking on cartons of Moove?
I think we can all agree it’s the latter. But, that’s not why I’m writing this post. I’m writing this post because I think we’ve forgotten what self-publishing SHOULD be about. For starters, self-publishing should be more than the sole means of emotional rejection for an entire cohort of entitled baby-boomers. And it should be more than just a platform for hairy-chinned shut-ins who’re keeping the tartan cat-hutch market on its feet. Self publishing is stuck in this rut because we’ve lost sight of its purpose. We keep clinging to the delusional belief that it is a short-cut to traditional publishing, a kind of egalitarian; ‘Become a famous author without leaving the comfort of your onesie’ scheme.
Because you won’t. Or, more rightly, you shouldn’t.
And that’s OK. Because for most people writing is just a hobby, a craft no different to any other. It’s an art-form, like painting or patchwork, where some participants are professionals, but most are amateurs. Many people of a certain age happily spend their days sewing poorly thought-out patchwork handbags or laboriously felting knee-length merkins that look as though they’ve been eaten once already. These are pieces of art created by amateurs. They are personal and individual and best appreciated by loved ones, preferably in-utero. At its widest their audience usually comprises local arts and crafts fairs and anyone with a backyard incinerator.
Importantly, through, these artists don’t look at their finished work and think; “Yes! This is the piece that will finally catapult me into the mainstream tie-dyed tea-cosy industry!” So why should writing be any different?
Last year I self-published short collection of essays simply for friends and family, and of course, anyone with a backyard incinerator. I wanted something they could read at the beach, rather than on a screen. And I wanted a project that was ‘finished’. Self-publishing ticked all these boxes. It was simply another part of my hobby.
So here’s my advice. Stop thinking of your mighty epistle 67 Shades of Puce as the next bestseller. Try instead to imagine it as a unique and personal work of art, perhaps with a hand-felted dust-jacket. And slip back into that onesie.