I’ll be the first to admit lack of confidence has kept me from moving forward many times in my life. But sometimes it feels like all the confidence in the world won’t help if outside forces play a factor. I’m talking about my writing journey, of course. Before I continue, I want to stipulate that this is my own perspective, based on my experiences. It’s not meant to put down any part of the publishing industry. It’s simply the viewpoint of one person.
When I decided to write my beloved rock star love story for publication, I met with a freelance editor for advice. She pretty much told me my best option was to self-publish. Later that year, I attended a writing workshop at the local community college, and the presenter was very pro-self-publishing. Now, I was a blank slate going into this. Yes, I wanted to be the next Stephenie Meyer, who landed a publishing deal for the Twilight Series seemingly overnight. But I didn’t see that happening for me.
I researched and researched, and all arrows pointed toward self-publishing. It made sense to me. I just wanted to see this story come to life, after years of being trapped in my head. There was no thought of making this into a career. My day job as an accountant was stable and paid well. No need to get the big bucks for writing professionally.
Determined to make this happen, I hired a freelance editor, had a group of friends beta-read my book, attended my first writer’s conference (flew to New Orleans by myself!), worked my tail off, and found a writer community on Facebook. I self-published two books in two years. The effort to learn everything I needed was huge. Either I educated myself, or I sought advice and help from other independent authors.
After my second book released, I went through a period of soul searching. The writing bug had hit me, and I wanted to keep writing for the rest of my life. But was I writing exactly the way I wanted? Did my books reflect me and my core values? I decided soon after Book Two that I was going to switch to the Christian market.
Naive me thought it would be a seamless transition. Three years later, I’m trying to figure out if I made a mistake switching entirely. I’ve removed profanity and sensual scenes, but I still write in my old style: romantic, passionate, emotional, and even gritty. There’s an audience out there for my books, but it’s not the one I imagined. And it’s not clear-cut.
Another thing I’ve learned in the past three years is most of the Christian authors I know are traditionally published or they’re working on being traditionally published. An indie community does exist, but (aside from a handful of great author pals), I haven’t become integrated with these authors (yet). I can’t say why that is, but I don’t believe things happen by accident. God put certain author friends in my life for a reason, and most are not on the indie pub track.
So, the question becomes, do I continue self-publishing, or do I attempt traditional publishing? I never thought I’d consider it, but—to be honest—it’d be nice to have the respect a traditionally published author has. Unfortunately, a stigma still exists concerning self-published authors. And, from my experiences in both worlds, I find this stigma exists more in the Christian author community than in the secular one. (Again, this is based on my observations, so it’s not a blanket statement).
However, my job isn’t to make myself look good or follow the crowd. It’s to follow God’s plan for my writing journey (and my life). I need to be praying over my direction, seeking advice from friends, and taking it day by day. Of course, I’d like to be published with a big publisher and have my books at Barnes and Noble. What author doesn’t want that? But it’s not up to me. I’m just going to write the stories on my heart and submit them to God. And, whatever the outcome, I need to be okay with it.