Sunday, April 06, 2014

Parental Discretion Is Advised.

DISCLAIMER: The following material contains adult subject matter. Parental discretion is advised.
I’m serious. Tell the kids under 18 to leave. 

Okay, here is what has been in my head lately:

Literary masturbation=Self-publishing

I did not come up with the GENIUS analogy, that self-publishing is akin to masturbation. That credit belongs to John Winters in one of my favorite articles called “I’m aself-publishing failure”. Read the article. Very helpful. Very inspiring.

I mentioned the idea of literary masturbation and referred to John Winter’s article in a recent blog, and I can't stop thinking about it.

GET OUT OF THE ROOM, CHILDREN! This is about to get very adult.

I republished MSW recently, and it felt awesome. A self-induced pleasure, of the publishing kind. There was that build up that goes on while revising and editing and proofing and then—bam—I hit "publish" and a rush of sensations and emotions went through me. I was left with a sweet calm inside, a satisfied contentment.

See how this analogy is PERFECT?!

Doing this act of self-pleasure is so, so much easier today and so much more acceptable than 10 years ago when I self-published MSW the first time. Though, some still say it is something to be ashamed of. But we will get to those hater-folks later. 

Self-publishing is EASY, and it FEELS GOOD (most of the time, but more on that in another blog post). It’s faster than regular publishing, and you have all the control (see how this analogy really is perfect?). Regular, traditional publishing, however, is not analogous to any kind of sex, at least not in my experience.  


Simply put, it's a hell of a lot easier to get laid than to get published. I think all of us in the biz can agree with that.

DISCLAIMER: This is based on MY experience. SO no HATE MAIL from people who have had an easy, swinging time with their book deal.

So, people of earth, listen up, ALL of you. Yeah, you who just finished that first or second draft of a manuscript and are combing through The Writer's Market   or Agent Query, and, yeah, you, too, writer who has received numerous positive rejections from a major publisher. And you, who have an MFA and have been published in several anthologies and magazines and have an agent and are on your sixth manuscript, even YOU, you need to listen and listen carefully.

Getting that book published will be a nearly impossible feat. Traditional publishing is like to getting into Brown, 8.9 percent.


ACTUALLY, hold on. I just googled this, and it's a whole lot worse than that.

"Statistics?  I've heard that only 0.03 percent of all manuscripts submitted in the publishing industry in the United States each year actually get published.  That means out of every 10,000 manuscripts which are submitted, only 3 are actually published." 

So, BAD NEWS, folks. Getting published is a whole lot harder than getting into BROWN.

Everyone reading, take a deep breath. I’m sorry to have killed that buzz you had from all of your accomplishments as a writer and all of your efforts climbing the hill towards a book deal. I share that buzz-kill myself.

I know this news is devastating to a writer. Any writer. Newbie or seasoned vet. It devastates ME!

We writers crave to be heard and seen, and we NEED that release of publishing. Our words released to the public. It’s a rush. It’s fantastic.  

Thus, that is why the following statistic is not surprising:

Almost 400,000 books were self published in 2012 according to Bowker. And the number of Self-Published Titles Grows Nearly 60% in 2012 according to the website

AND. . . The number of self-published books has quadrupled from 2007 to now!

Now, about those hater-folks. . . Sure, many people who have solid careers as authors and writers claim that those of us who self-publish are narcissistic animals who don't have the talent to earn the right of a publisher to consider us. I was reading a thread about us no-talent animals and couldn't believe how ANGRY some people are about those of us who have self-published.

And to those people I say, I am not offended by your opinion. What you claim about us is true sometimes and in some cases. But, I would make the same claim to those in the non-self-published category. There are a lot of narcissistic animals who do get book deals and who have ZERO talent and who have definitely NOT earned the right to get published. Can we all say the word “celebrities”?

But this is not a post about being MAD at folks who hate on us self-published animals. Nor is this a blog lamenting the woes of a self-published author. Nor a post about hating celebrity authors. Some write damn fine stuff. Jamie Lee Curtis has a children’s book I really enjoy called, When I Was Little.

This is post about WHY I chose to and still do, to a certain extent, self-publish. . . even though for all of these 10 years that I've been out there I have had an agent, had work published in lit. mags, newspapers, etc. . .even though I have the resume and experience that would indicate a book deal is around the corner. Even though I still very much want and am striving to be published by a traditional publisher. And by the way, there are a lot of us, like me, who have many years, decades into this business and have not reaped the equal and opposite rewards that both experience and talent warrant in EVER OTHER F*$KING PROFESSION.

Yes, I do think I am (somewhat) talented, and finally, I feel and know and understand that talent alone is not what helps you get a book deal. The elusive market is an enormous factor.

 Look, it's been wizards, vampires, and porn for the last decade. My shit doesn't line up with that. But this could be the year of voicey, contemporary YA fiction. A girl can only dream.

Years ago, when I won the first place award from WD self-pub contest a few folks likened me to the next Judy Blume. I thought, wow, my dreams are coming true because (like many YA writers in my age bracket) when I was nine and reading Judy Blume, I felt, in my whole body, that some day I would write books like hers and people would love those books—I would become a real author.

And it looked like I was on that path ten years ago, when I hit publish and sold over a thousand books pretty quickly and got an agent. . .

While I still am on the path and haven't arrived at the destination, I have continued to self-publish.

Why am I replaying this tune on self-publishing? Because I republished MSW as a ten year anniversary gift to myself. The original had a lot of errors, and I wanted to clean it up and make it look prettier. I did this republish solely por moi. The decision is a little like a choice for cosmetic surgery. Like a facelift or Botox. While I haven't done either of those yet, never say never, and I don't judge those who do. I suppose that this choice really was narcissistic. But it also was for the small group of readers who continue to email me about my Maddie books and who are rooting for me. 

The feeling I got when I republished MSW. . .  was good. I mean that good.  Sorry, but it's true. IT felt SOOOO good.

To republish it using ten years of wisdom was very cathartic. No, I didn't rewrite the entire thing like I wanted to, that wasn't my intention. But I gave it a face-lift, so I could feel really good about it being out there. Because, believe it or not, that book continues to sell!

AND. . . That is why, after receiving over 50 rejections for my short story anthology Big, Fat, Broken Hearts a few years ago, I decided to self-publish a literary anthology that would feature my (rejected) short fiction as well as all those other writers out there who were in need of that good feeling that publishing gives.

In just a little over a week, I will self-publish again (along with my staff). Sucker Literary, volume 3. And it will feel DAMNED GOOD!

But guess what, so will getting a book deal. And I don't think that the two are mutually exclusive. 

So keep writing and keep climbing the mountain. But don't be afraid to take care of yourself once in awhile.


kacimari said...

Hannah, I love you. Like...serious love. This post made me feel so many things, most of which was that giddy, I'm going to throw up or cry feeling. I am right there with you. Chasing a big time book deal is awesome, but holding a book in your hands is even better. We're not getting any younger, and someone once asked me to consider going my entire life never having published. My manuscripts would die with me. What was more important? A big name or the satisfaction of doing a good job? Clearly, we know which direction I went. I'm so proud of you. You, my dear, are doing fantastic things for writers, young and old alike. You know what is important and you know how to make a writer feel special. You deserve to be proud. You deserve to get that amazing feeling from publishing. More power to you. More f*cking power to you.

Hannah R. Goodman said...

Kaci, It is your words and support that inspire me to really say what I think and feel about publishing. It's the truth and though no one wants to say it, we writers NEED TO BE SEEN AND HEARD! Yeah, we are also the same ones who clam up at parties and prefer to observe rather than participate, but we believe in our art, and we will not go down without sharing it and enjoying every moment that we do.xoxoxoxoxox