Anyone who's ever submitted a manuscript knows publishing usually grinds with glacial slowness, but lately changes have moved with tsunami speed. If you've been following the Harlequin/RWA feud, you know what I mean. Harlequin, a company that's practically synonymous with romance, is now offering aspiring authors who have been rejected by their editors an opportunity to self-publish. Harlequin has partnered with a vanity press to form Harlequin Horizons .
Romance Writers of America has just issued a statement revoking Harlequin's status as an eligible publisher because RWA does not recognize "subsidy" presses. This means Harlequin will lose its perks at Nationals ~ free meeting space for book signings, the opportunity to hold editor appointments, and spotlights on their programs. They are welcome to attend, but will have to foot their own bills.
Let's bypass that squabble for a minute and just talk about what self-publishing means to an author.
On the one hand, I understand the temptation to self-publish. I have manuscripts that for one reason or another weren't picked up that I'd love to see in print. Readers have asked repeatedly for the third Diana Groe "song" book, DRAGONSONG, which completes the MAIDENSONG and ERINSONG trilogy. It's already written, but will probably never see the light of day.
Rejection is never fun and emotionally it may be easier to bypass that painful process and skip right to seeing your name on a cover. And there have been success stories in self-publishing. Everyone always points to ERAGON as the golden example.
However, the self-pubbed path is littered with broken hearts and lighter wallets.
But forget the money aspect for a moment. I'd like to posit that skipping the rejection phase is not good for a writer. Rejection makes us take another critical look at our work. It's an opportunity to stretch ourselves, to learn what works and what doesn't. To think new thoughts. To sharpen our prose till it cuts to the bone. To abandon a flawed project for something more viable. If we just plunk down our cash to make a book happen, what do we learn?
I know rejection stings. Believe me. It feels so personal because our writing is us. But every rejection gives me an opportunity to grow as a writer and as a person. If you are an aspiring writer, I urge you to exhaust all other avenues of publication before turning to self-publishing. Give yourself the opportunity to be rejected so your writing will improve.
That said, every writer takes his/her own path. Clive Cussler, for example, posed as a retiring agent to introduce his work to the agent of his dreams (and it worked!)
What do you think? Feel free to disagree.
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