It’s a moment in my life that’s hard to forget: I was at a shiva call eating a bagel with lox, schmoozing with friends and relatives of the deceased. I was positioned between the living and dining rooms of a split-level ranch, feet hurting from standing for so long, when my life as an unpublished author suddenly took a turn.
“I think you should self-publish your novel,” my friend Dan said. Dan’s father-in-law, Paul, the dad of one of my best friends, had died in his sleep a few days prior. Paul was a wonderful man, and, suddenly, he was gone. I had known him for most of my life.
“Never gonna happen.” I said. We chewed our bagels in companionable silence. My eyes focused on pictures of Paul’s family, smiling from silver frames atop the piano.
“But why not?” Dan pressed.
I shrugged. It’s not like me, I said, to be unconventional. I am very good at following rules, and keeping the status quo quoing. I live in suburbia with two kids and drive an SUV, writing from a cold room over my garage while the kids are in school. I am not an artiste, pushing the boundaries.
Except for the freezing garret part, which is very La Boheme.
Dan rolled his eyes and then went on to list for me the many compelling arguments that we all now know about the self-publishing versus traditional publishing debate. “Read some Barry Eilser,” he said. “You’ll see.” Control and ownership over your writing. Working in an outdated system that is perhaps broken and in need of readjusting. Finding readers yourself instead of waiting for a publisher to decide whether you are deserving of readers. Carpe Dieming it bigtime. Using your powers for good instead of evil.
Actually, maybe that last one was from a Batman movie, but you get my point. Or Dan’s point, really. That self-publishing was a real deal alternative to my current reality, which was built around waiting for my agent to call with good news.
And I had been waiting a long time. Continue reading here.