This week’s vlog finds me talking about my built-in bookshelves, which are still under construction, and perhaps more significantly, about some of the realities of life as a published writer. This is mostly directed at unpublished writers who have dreams of what their lives will be like once their books are published. Sometimes before we get published, especially if we don’t have a lot of published writer-friends in real life, our ideas about getting published draw heavily on what we’ve heard from, and about, our favourite bestselling authors. A lot of aspiring writers know very little about the realities of getting published by smaller, independent presses, and the amount of self-promotion and lack of glamour that goes along with indie publishing.
In many ways this video fits into the current conversation about small press vs. big press publishing. I believe there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Certainly having a caring, committed small press on your side is far better than having your book published by a big press which then decides you’re not one of the handful of authors they’re going to put the big publicity money behind. Books can very easily get lost in the shuffle with a big publisher, and this rarely happens with independent presses. But any author who doesn’t envy the massive distribution of the larger presses is either a saint or … well, lying. I think the writers who don’t dream about having a best-seller and going on a huge, sold-out book tour are few and far between. The truth is that experience is pretty rare, and the day to day reality of the writing life as I’ve tried to portray it in this video — with all its highs and lows — is far more common to most writers’ experiences.
One aspect of all this that I had to leave out of the video due to lack of both time and knowledge is self-publishing. I think that writers who choose to self-publish are generally less starry-eyed and more aware of the huge effort of self-promotion that’s going to be required of them, but as I’ve never done that I didn’t feel qualified to talk about it. What I do feel qualified to say is that whether you self-publish, publish with a small press or get picked up by one of the big-name publishers and become a bestseller, two things matter in the end: 1) loving the work that you do, and 2) connecting your book with readers who’ll love it too. Anything that allows you to do those two things, is the right publishing platform for you.