Last week I was talking about the ‘not so fun’ parts of writing. But that when it boils down to it, we keep at it because it’s something we feel we have to. And I came across an article from Timemagazine last year that drives that home. In it, they talk about studies that show that not only can writing help people deal with psychological stresses, but with physical ones as well!
And it got me thinking about what got me started writing in the first place. My first book was An Elk in the House, literally about the elk we had in our house, Butter. I’d never even thought about writing a book before this, but there was something about Butter’s impact on our lives, and the whole experience that made me realize, I have a story to tell.
In fact, most people have a story inside them waiting to come out. Sure, not every story is meant to be broadcast to millions. In fact, as the article points out, sometimes it’s not even meant to be told to another person. But the very act of telling your story, even if it’s only for an audience of one, can be life-changing.
I read something pretty interesting in the news today. It looks like a university in England has created a master’s degree in self-publishing! I was just as surprised as I’m sure you are!
And as someone who self-publishes, I was pretty excited to read this. And the article explains why. We are constantly having to defend ourselves to authors who are already established in the industry. And that’s the main point: the people who are most critical of it (Jeffrey Archer, Sue Grafton in this article) are already published, and they’re always going to be published. I wonder if they would have said the same thing back when they were starting out? I have my doubts!
Because anyone who knows how publishing works, knows that having a good story to tell is only a small part of the battle in getting your book to print. Part of it is about timing—what’s most popular in book sales and what the editor at the time is interested in. A ton of it is about who you know. And a big chunk of it nowadays is having people know who you are. More and more often editors aren’t willing to take a chance on an unknown—and that’s so sad! Just think of all the wonderful stories we might be missing out on because all the big publishers are busy concentrating on people who already have ten or twenty traditionally published books under their belts.
And really, that’s why I decided to self-publish. My first book, An Elk in the House, was published traditionally. But when it came to other manuscripts, people kept telling me I had great stories, but that they just weren’t the right fit, and that I wasn’t well-known enough. So it certainly wasn’t because I didn’t want to work hard. Because I can tell you, self-publishing is really hard work.
Now I’m not sure whether an entire post-graduate degree dedicated to just that is really the best way to spend your valuable tuition money. Or why exactly you’d want a degree in self-publishing—I would think that if you’re already going to go to university for that long, maybe you’d want to spend that time writing and improving your craft! But either way, I’m glad to see that academic institutions are understanding the value of self-publishing.