For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of becoming a published author. Whenever I said “published,” though, the assumption was always traditional publishing.
So, why am I jumping into self-publishing? Am I giving up on my dream?
No, not at all—I’m chasing it.
Before I dive into my reasons for self-publishing, I have a couple of comments that I think are helpful to make up front. First, my intent for this post is not to defend or justify my decision to self-publish. (Though I admit, due to Imposter Syndrome, at times I do feel like I need to defend my choice despite the overwhelming positive responses I’ve received from my friends and family.) My intent is to just share my thoughts from my quiet consideration of this decision over the past few months, in the hope that it’ll be interesting or encouraging to some.
I also think it’s worth noting that I do think I’d like to be traditionally published someday. I’ll probably make that call on a book-by-book basis and as I feel the Lord leading me. I’m currently of the mindset that I won’t be an Indie Author for my whole writing career, but I’m prepared to be wrong about that.
So, with those caveats out of the way, why am I self-publishing Our Company of Fools?
It is time to share Our Company of Fools with the world. I’ve shared Fools with a few others, mostly individuals in my writing group, the One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN) community. The story has moved the few who have read it, and I see the potential for the Lord to use it to move those outside of my little bubble of writers. It feels wrong to just call the book done and shelve it (which I have tried, unsuccessfully). It needs to be shared.
Finishing Our Company of Fools allows me to move on. Over the past year (or so), a lot of my posts about writing have been filled with my stop-and-start attempts at writing. It’s been a rough few years as a writer; words and stories don’t come to me as easily as they used to due to school and other life events. Our Company of Fools happens to be the project I’ve most consistently worked on over the years, and it has, in some respects, kept me from pursuing other story ideas. While I don’t know this for certain, part of me that thinks that freedom to write other books and adventures may come more readily by finally laying Fools to rest. The finality of the “published” label is something that I think my writing, and this book in particular, needs in order for me to move forward as an author.
I no longer feel the need to validate my ability as a writer by being accepted by a traditional publisher. This is huge for me. When I’ve talked to other writers about my dream to be published, I’ve often used “validation as a writer” as a reason for why I wanted to be traditionally published. I do think writers need to continually work at improving their craft and be wise about when their works are “ready” for publishing. There are tools of the trade we need to gain some mastery or expertise over, and we all continually learn those tools as we write and share our stories.
Am I at the level where I’m “ready” to publish? Not sure. I don’t think I’ll be sure until I take this plunge. Already, the imposter syndrome has attacked me, hard. I’ve considered myself a serious writer for at least ten years, and I’ve worked on Fools for just about five of those.But does that matter? After all, who am I to say I’m ready? Who am I to say Fools is ready? I can’t make that call on my own. That’s why I talked to close friends and family, mentioning that I was thinking about self-publishing. I talked to a friend familiar with the story. I’ve shared Fools and revised it according to feedback I received. I prayed about it. I considered how much I’ve grown as a writer. While in the end, I had to make the commitment—trusting the Lord during the process—publishing was not a decision I made in isolation. Friends and family, my past experiences and lessons, my belief that God is a core part of my identity as a writer—all of that factored into my decision.
Finally, and most importantly, God created me and called me to be a writer, and I believe He wants me to share Our Company of Fools with others. I felt the pull to pursue the self-publishing route with Fools, and I prayed about it. I thought long and hard about it. It was not an impulse decision, but one that I sought to make carefully before the Lord. It’s a scary decision to plunge into the world of indie-publishing, especially while I’m still in grad school. Yet I don’t think it is the wrong decision. I truly trust the Lord with what happens next and believe He is leading me forward in this next step of my journey as a writer.
Our Company of Fools is a book of many firsts for me. It’s the fastest book I wrote, the first book to get beyond three drafts, and the first book I queried and sent off to potential publishers. Since I wrote it, I sensed that it would also take the title of my first published book as well. It’s very surreal that I’m at the publishing stage with this book, and I can’t wait to see where Fools goes from here.