I don’t want to give the impression that this publishing my book on my own was a bad experience. In general, I have been overwhelmed (in a very positive way) with the reception that I’ve received from unknown readers on Amazon. Some of the reviews have been stunning to me, and the reviews I’ve received from family and friends have been equally amazing. In some ways, publishing your own work is a bit like coming out. (Okay, not like I actually know what it’s like to come out. Notice I did say “a bit”…) I found that I had to reveal myself to people who believed that they knew me well. I had to admit some things that were hard, because there is no way to escape the fact that parts of these stories are autobiographical. (I’m not sayin’ which parts, y’all.) But those who know me well will see right through the characters I’ve created to act out my own dramas. And it’s also hard to admit that this is something I’m doing. That I’m serious about it. That it means…everything to me. Because if one of those trusted friends or family members casts disparaging words or thoughts my way… it just might break my heart. But that hasn’t happened.
What has happened is this: I’ve realized that the fiction awards in this country do not recognized self-published work. So that can be good or bad. I’m proud of this work, and I’d like to imagine that it might have a shot at recognition through some of the notable “first work published” awards out there. (See Poets & Writers for a listing). But every single one of the awards that acknowledges a first collection of stories published stipulates that self-published work does not qualify. I can see why they’ve established that rule… or why they did originally. But perhaps it’s time for the old guard to acknowledge that writers today are making a choice. It is probably quite arrogant to say that I believe I could have found a small press to publish my collection, making me eligible for all of the awards I revere. But I’ve said it, so it’s out there. But I wanted to put something OUT there. I wanted to push this off and let if have a life of its own, see if it could swim. I didn’t want to wait months on end for the favor of a response to my queries. I didn’t want to wait months on end for the slow grinding publishing wheels to turn. And so I did it myself. And I’ve essentially made these stories – of which I am so proud – completely null in the eyes of any critics who might bestow upon them an award that would garner some recognition for my work.
I’m not saying that I think I am award-worthy. I am saying that not even having the opportunity to find out is disappointing. And I’m saying that maybe it’s time that the stodgy traditionalists wake up and smell the new reality of publishing. Even some good writing is going to be self-published from here on out, folks. Deal with it.