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Does Fear of Rejection Encourage Writers to Self-Publish?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I was reading Michael Hyatt's Blog the other day on Thomas-Nelson's recent decison to help writers self-publish.

This is a sensitive issue in many ways. I was reading Laurie Alice Eakes blog this afternoon at on the same subject and answered as follows:

One concern I have for those who are self-publishing is all about fear. I know many writers who are confident in their skills and feel led to self-publish and some of them have been successful. But my caution would be that a writer should not resort to self-publishing because they are afraid of rejection.

No one likes to be rejected, but sometimes there are lessons to be learned via the old rejection letter. If those seeking to be self-published are not confident and filled with doubt and think this is the way to avoid criticism they could be in for a world of hurt when their reviews come out if they are less than complimentary.

It's hard enough to face rejection in any form, but it's down right insulting to pay a publisher and then face criticisms that could ruin a writer's career because they were afraid of the traditional route.

My hope for every writer is that they have faith and perseverance to make their words the best they can be, and to choose wisely their path to publication.

What do you all think about this? If you have the opportunity to self-publish will you do it and why? Do you see a big difference in self-publishling non-fiction vs. fiction? How do you think readers will respond? Will this cause an unhealthy split between those who publish traditionally and those who self-publish?

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  1. Hi Jill!
    I had two Bible study-type manuscripts taken from my teaching notes sitting in my computer. Ladies who had heard the teachings asked me repeatedly to compile the information into book format so they could share it easily with friends and family. I debated, delayed, procrastinated, and then came across CreateSpace. It offered an opportunity to put those non-fiction MSS into book form at practically no out-of-pocket expense, so I did. At the time I didn't realize it would be considered some sort of "blot" on my writing career! I plan to go the traditional method for my fiction, but the purpose is different. Does that make sense?

  2. I've been rejected so many times ... it doesn't necessarily get easier, but I do see that I'm getting closer to getting an acceptance.

    I think people self-publish (and I'm talking strictly about fiction here) either because they think they don't have a chance of getting published by a traditional publisher (or aren't willing to wait), or because they're so new to trying to get published they don't realize that the odds of a self-published fiction book doing well in the marketplace is slim to none.

  3. Hi Niki,
    I've never heard of Create Space. Do you feel like it was a "blot" and what kind of feedback did you get after you did this?

    It's an interesting idea, but I can see where you might have difficulty marketing this material to others who might benefit from it and then of course you can't get paid for all your hard work.
    Is it always availabe for interested readers? Or does it have a virtual shelf life? Thanks for sharing this experience.

  4. Hi Melanie,
    You make a lot of good points. I think it's especially important that new writers trying to get published don't rush head long into something they don't fully understand.

    Also, it can be a thrill to see our names in print on the books we publish, but as you said, it may be impatience or just giving up too soon. I can see where these things could ultimately cause problems if an author wants a satisfying career.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  5. Good morning, Jill. I posted, but it went I'm trying again.

    I have a friend who self-published because she had a great story to tell and couldn't find a publisher. Unfortunately, the only copies she sold were to her family and friends. It was heartbreaking, considering all the time and money she put into it.

    I know others have been successful going this route, or it's led to success with other books getting picked up by publishers. However, I don't think this is a route I would take myself. I guess I'm insecure enough that I'd want to know I was good enough that an editor accepted me. If I self-published (and this is only an opinion on myself, not on those who have self-published) I'd always tell myself I wasn't good enough because it wasn't an editor who published me.

  6. Hi Suzie,
    I think many of us who are still trying to publish would feel the same way. It just seems too risky to me and timing has a lot to do with it. Not only God's timing, but publishers and editors may not be looking for something we're writing this year, but that may be exactly what they want next year.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this Suzie.

  7. I'm a traditionally published author and if I were still unpublished, I doubt I'd self-publish. Why? I don't think I could sell that many copies by myself. Outside of friends and family, who would buy my book? As most of the agents have said, including Chip and Rachelle, self-publishing only works if you can sell your books. If you have regular speaking engagements, then self-publishing may work well for you. Also, from what I've read, it appears that self-pubbing works best with non-fiction titles. Novels don't do very well on the self-publishing front.

  8. Hi Cecelia,
    Sorry it's taken me a while to catch up with you. Pneumonia got the better part of me. No fun.
    I agree with you. I think the non-fiction could work with enough speaking engagements, but fiction would be a tough sell. Chip and Rachelle always have good advice to pass along.
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate your thoughts and those of everyone who commented recently.
    Till later.

  9. This is a VERY interesting topic for me. I'm glad I found this conversation. I am an artist/writer (unpublished by any formal means, although I've tried) and am working on selling e-books/journals on my website. I believe that it's possible to be successful as a self-published author (especially with e-publishing) if you have some kind of platform created for your book with which to promote it. I'm doing retreats and workshops, writing articles for various blogs/e-zines, trying to create a following for my work. Even doing some voice recordings so people can get to know me better. I am in the beginning stages with this, so I would not call myself successful yet, but I've seen others who seem successful doing this kind of thing (especially artist/writers). I have also recently heard that publishers might feel more interested in a writer who is working hard to promote their own work - is that true? Jill, I'd like to read what you think about all this.