I think the biggest mistake I’ve made in my writing career is listening to others, and believing their feedback was more important and valuable than my inner calling. This was especially true when it came to self-publishing.
The year that I was on the road, I started to get a glimpse of the possibility of self-publishing as a path. This was in 2005, before ebooks existed, blogging was in its infancy stages, and everybody in the writing world advised me – no matter what – to avoid telling agents and editors that I had self-published this collection of stories.
They would automatically assume that I was a hack if I did that. I hadn’t even gone to what was called a Vanity Press at that time. I had gone to a printer and my order was unique. The sales rep was quite intrigued with what I was doing.
That year, I got the idea of a collective of self-published writers who banded together to promote their work and each other? But when I mentioned it to others, a couple of ‘friends’ who were not writers told me that was redundant, that it had already been done, and there was no point in reinventing the wheel.
One directed me to some writers’ house in Seattle, where none of the authors were self-published, and I heard that advice yet again to not divulge that I had self-published a book from somebody who was very involved in that community.
She was very nice and understanding about it.
“They just don’t understand the need people have to experience the satisfaction of seeing your work in book form,” she said.
Looking back less than 15 years later, isn’t it so obvious what a mistake I made to listen to all those who thought they knew better, but didn’t. Since then, many authors have enjoyed a lot of success in the DIY arena and I could have been one of them.
The internet, Kindle, and ebooks have changed everything. If I had followed my instincts, instead of listening to others, I may have started at the beginning of the wave as it started to climb and enjoyed the sweetness of the crest and fall.
So what’s the moral of the story? Trust yourself. Even if you screw up, there’s a peace of mind to screwing up on your own ideas, rather than screwing up because of somebody else’s.