I bought books from every writer who had a book for sale at the book signing. An avid reader, I went home and started reading. Every single one of the self published books was quite terrible. The editing was BAD. The stories were BAD. The plots made no sense.
From that moment on, my mind was made up about self published books. My thought was, "If a publisher won't pick it up, it's probably not any good."
In my arrogance, I ignored all of the TERRIBLE books I'd read that had been published by major markets. I ignored how angry I would get that "crap like that" got published when I KNEW I wrote better.
After that, all of my spare time was spent writing instead of reading. For about ten years, I didn't read a piece of fiction. Right now, my reading list includes cookbooks, homemaking books, and Christian life style books, and I have a huge list of fiction I WANT to read and just simply no time to read. So, while I have state of the art computers and a house that is so wired that my television talks to my hand held computer, I don't have an e-reader and haven't really delved into online reading.
Consequently, nothing ever really came across my path to change my impression about self published books until I joined the Kentucky Romance Writers. There I met a group of women who were amazing writers who had ventured out on their own and just published -- for different reasons and motivations. Some of them didn't have time to wait for a publishers. Some of them didn't have a publisher that fit their niche. Some were burnt out on traditional publishing and all of the bonds and chains that come with it. Whatever the case may be, they were independent published authors who were getting amazing reviews from their readers and were, by all intents and purposes, successfully published.
It really opened my eyes and it really encouraged me to step out there with them. I have a style of writing that will not fit into any preset "publisher" mode. It simply won't. It's too edgy for the Christian market and too Christian for the romance market. So, despite the prejudices of my youth, I ventured into the self publishing world. Doing so forced me into the world of marketing my book and REALLY introduced me to the world of self published authors and removed any blinders I had left.
It also really introduced me to how many people think, mistakenly, like I used to.
Here is a for instance:
I sit on the board of an inspirational chapter of a major romance writing organization. I've been a member for four years and a board member for over two years. During a board meeting, it was discussed what to do about the definition of a "published" author because until this year, many organizations did not consider e-pubbed authors to "officially" be published. During the conversations, I cautioned the board about disregarding self-published authors because of the changes blooming in the publishing industry.
While there was a consensus from a very few members of the board that it is certainly something that will need to be addressed in the future, the discussion didn't continue. I don't think anyone really realizes just how much that NOW is what is forming the future.
When I published my book, Sapphire Ice, I was so excited. I sent links and information to everyone I knew, including the email loop for this particular group. I didn't receive a single acknowledgement -- not a congratulations, not a good luck, not "great cover" -- not a single word. Recently though, a member got "the call", that one from a publisher that affirms "you're good enough". The support and encouragement and excitement flooded that particular email loop for over a week.
I think that instance, more than anything at all, really brought home to me just how much people STILL think like I used to think. I have been gifted by being surrounded by the extraordinary writers in the Kentucky Indies Writers group that publishes this blog. I have realized that despite preconceived ideas, I'd dare to say that MOST of the self published books out there, if they've been professionally edited, are probably quite good.
Organizations are going to have to change. Yes, we know that. Successful e-book and indie authors are leaving print authors in their prosperous wake.
But above and beyond organizations, the mindsets of the individuals who make up the general writing world need to change. I don't know what will make that happen other than time and exposure, or simply realizing that what we've always thought isn't what IS anymore. Times have changed, the industry is changing. Indie books are prominent in the molding and shaping of the future of publishing.
And, that isn't going to change.
Posted by Hallee Bridgeman