Some of you may not know this, but there used to be a certain amount of stigma if a writer chose to publish a book independently. In those days, independent publishing was generally a nice way for determined writers to get around the fact that they'd been rejected by publishing houses more times than their hearts could handle. They saw the end of their dream of becoming a big time "real" author, but they needed, for whatever reason, to see their words in print. Most paid quite handsomely for this sort of vanity printing, quietly accepting the shame of not being "good enough" to strike a lucrative deal with a "real" publisher.
Eventually, vanity printing became somewhat more common and, rather begrudgingly in the literary world, somewhat more accepted. Somewhere along the way, someone had the nerve to be unashamed. Somewhere along the way, one of those unashamed "vanity"-published authors managed to make some decent money, perhaps enough to fund the writing as a nice hobby. Then another one did it. And then another. Soon, self published authors like Amanda Hocking, Barbara Freethy, and Liliana Hart were taking their turns turning the self-published stigma on its head. (And we'll just leave E.L. James out of this, shall we?)
Now, independent publishing is a much more respected business, dominated by success stories of independent authors not only doing well on their own, but choosing to continue as self published authors long after contract offers have begun to roll in. Some even choose to do a little of both, and have great success with their own hybrid combination of independent and traditional contract publishing (Marie Force)! However, even with so many wonderful changes and so many spectacular examples, there are still a great many hiccups in the world of self publishing. Due to the relative ease of the process, it often seems that anyone can be an author now -- but is that true?
What makes an author a "real" author? Is it the six figure contract everyone is dreaming of? Is it the name of a publishing company listed inside of a book?
I don't think so. I think the thing that transforms a "writer" into an "author" is passion. You have to love this -- in some ways, it has to mean as much to you as the air you breathe ... otherwise, it won't work. It's not a quick buck.
"Alright then, what makes an author a real author, then?"
Did you ever read The Velveteen Rabbit? It's a story about a fake bunny, a stuffed toy given to a child. The bunny is beloved, but of course he is only a stuffed bunny. Through the course of the story, the bunny finds out he isn't real, and he wishes with all his little stuffed heart that he could be made real. In the end, of course, he is made real ... by the simple power of love.
"What's that got to do with the topic at hand? I thought you were gonna tell me why you self publish."
But I just did. I self publish because I love my stories. I love my books. I love my covers. I love the interaction I have with my readers. I love being in charge of my own schedule (even when I fail at it because since I know I won't fire myself, I sometimes slack off too much), and I love knowing everything that's going on with each of my projects at all times. I love having personal trust relationships with my team. I love having self published heroes like Skye Turner and Felicia Tatum to look up to.
Those things make this real to me. They make you real to me, as tangible as the keyboard under my fingertips.
I don't need a "real" publisher. I've never even attempted to attract one -- and I'm pretty sure I'll turn them down when they come sniffing in my direction. Why? Because I don't need a contract to make me real.
I've got you, my readers. And that's all any writer needs to make them real.
And now, I'm off to keep prepping for Romancing The Smokies. Less than two weeks -- eek!!