So, as many of you know, I’ve been going to comic cons across the country, from Seattle, Washington to Hartford, Connecticut, to sell my books and to chat with people. Thank you, WordFire Press!
I found myself sitting on a panel discussing the various benefits and drawbacks of Indie versus traditional when someone said, “Above all, if you Indie publish, don’t make a fool of yourself.”
I immediately screamed to the heavens, “MAKE A FOOL OF YOURSELF! BE AWFUL! HAVE PEOPLE LAUGH AT YOU! DON’T WAIT FOR PERFECT!”
The other authors on the panel shushed me (I get that a lot) and the discussion continued. I should’ve screamed louder. I should’ve thrown chairs. I should’ve lit my guitar on fire and knelt before it’s burning remains.
Instead I shut up. Because I’ve been making a fool of myself for at least four years in the publishing industry and I figured I didn’t need to fight with my fellow authors.
But the truth? What I believe is the truth? No book is ever ready, talent doesn’t mean much, and you can keep yourself trapped in “working on your craft” for decades or more. Do all that, and you can avoid the fear of making a fool of yourself. Congratulations.
This is the big secret about the writing industry. It’s not about who knows the most about the writing craft, or the one who has the most talent. Nope, the person who wins at the writing game is the person who DOES it.
Lots of people talk about writing books, few people do it.
Lots of people finish writing books, fewer publish them.
So this game is for people who conquer the fear and do it, and who do it over and over.
Am I a better writer than when I started thirty years ago? Maybe. I’m older, and I think that helps. But what about the ten years of critique groups, ten years of reading writing craft books, ten years of writers conferences. Haven’t those made me a better writer and someone who knows craft?
Maybe. Probably. But in the end, it comes down to the fact that I did it. Over and over again, I took action. I wrote books, I edited books, I published books. Over and over. That’s the important thing.
Am I glad I didn’t publish the first thirteen novels I wrote? Even the bad ones? Sometimes I am. But I don’t think it would’ve mattered. I think if I had Indie published my bad novels along the way, it wouldn’t have mattered. Some people would’ve loved them, and some people would’ve hated them. That’s just the nature of the game.
I spent twenty years writing thirteen books no one will probably ever read, and I would rather have people read my not-so-perfect-books than not read them all. I wish I would've had the courage to risk people laughing at me sooner. But I was too afraid.
Rushing a book into publication might not be the smartest thing ever, but it's better than not publishing a book at all. And hmmm, I wonder how many New York Times Bestsellers were rushed into print? Makes me think of the Looney Tunes writers and animators. They were rushed and what they did was genius.
I don't rush books out the door, but I'm getting more courageous. Books need to be edited. To a point. But I can edit a book for years just because I'm too afraid to show it to other people because I'm too afraid of what they'll say.
But maybe I’m totally wrong on this. I don’t have an agent and I don’t have a big traditional publisher and I get some good reviews, but I don’t sell millions of copies.
I know some people are looking askance at me, wondering why I still try so hard every day, and I know some people have tried to read my books and couldn’t. For whatever reason.
So in that sense, yeah, I have mad a fool of myself.
But who cares?
Let ‘em laugh.
I will keep writing and publishing books, and they can laugh all they want. I would rather publish books that people laugh at than be trapped in my own fear.
This game isn’t for people who talk about it. It’s for people who do it.
So let’s all go DO IT!
And damn those haters who love to laugh.