It seems to me that self-published writers are looked down on – that they’re just using up space in the market; that if their work was good enough to get a proper publishing deal it would have done; that they’re putting out any kind of rubbish just because technology allows them to. All of this went through my mind when I was considering whether to go ahead with it myself. Will I be a part of that stigma? Will people look down on me? Should I bother? Is my book good enough?
But what’s the alternative? I thought about not releasing it and keeping it for myself, but then I’d always wonder in my mind about what might have been. You never know if you don’t try. In the end I thought about what would be the worst that could happen. I just want to write. What can I do? Just because my book wasn’t picked up from the minefield of publishers I should give up doing what I enjoy?
I had doubts whilst writing and often wondered if I should carry on. Did I write it well enough? I always think no but maybe I did, who knows? Someone needs to tell me. I’m not the only judge. What I might consider bad someone else might consider good.
Now here I am with my book out there, not knowing how it’s being received or even getting noticed. How do I get it noticed? How does anyone get anything noticed? Money is needed to advertise the latest best-selling cookbook, autobiography or crime novel by the best-selling writer. If a pop star has a new record out there’ll be articles in the paper about the clothing they’re wearing or what they’re eating for lunch and it creates a buzz about their work, their product. What about me? Who cares about me? Do I pay money for someone to publicise me? Do I create some news to draw attention to me, a buzz, or a media frenzy as I think it’s called. No thanks. I don’t have the money for a start. But where does that leave me and my book?
I’m not one who’s driven by material possessions or status. When I was younger I always liked the idea of being a struggling little-known artist having to sell my work in order to afford food and a shelter over my head. I remember a scene from the film ‘Amelie’ when the unpublished poet finds some lines from his book written on the wall. I wouldn’t mind that happening to me…
I recall a Guardian article a few months ago about artists who have to continue working a day job to support themselves. This has been intended to portray someone at the level below that one. I’ll gladly continue working in cafes if it means I’ve made a small name for myself. It’s getting even that far that is proving a problem.
I’m not going to call myself a writer as I don’t think a few short stories and one self-published novel fit me into that bracket. I’m more of a café assistant who writes in his spare time. Or who would write if his spare time wasn’t so consumed by thoughts of how long life as a café assistant can support him; or by going out to clear his mind of such thoughts. In fact I don’t often find the time, energy or enthusiasm to write at all. And when I do it’s always at the same time my belly starts growling. Sometimes I even wonder if I should even bother. I’m not going to get a deal, no one’s going to read if I self-publish, what’s the point? I wonder if Dickens had the same problems. I know, how dare I compare myself to the greats. Here’s more. When I was younger I liked the idea of being a poor artist who was appreciated by a few and only discovered by the many once old or dead. Now that time may have arrived it doesn’t feel as fulfilling. But then ideas enter my head and I find myself scrambling for bits of paper to write them on. When I sit to write properly I find I can’t locate the paper or articulate with words the idea in my mind. Maybe I should speak into a tape recorder as the ideas come and release the tape for people to listen to. I’ll let you know how that goes.