Welcome to Week 13 of Kindle Vella. Today, I thought I’d talk a little bit about why I’m so frustrated with the lack of support Kindle Vella has received and the importance of self-publishing in general.
This morning, I happened on an old writing forum I used to look at back in the day before social media was a thing. I was looking up a publishing company and found a post from 2019 discussing vanity publishing and self-publishing.
There was a writer on there who was COMPLETELY perplexed as to why someone would “vanity publish” i.e. pay money for publishing. And, I feel, these writers have very little knowledge of self-publishing and why we must have it.
Back in, I want to say 2016, I published a novel that involved LGBTQ plus characters. It was called All The Right Notes. Now, I lucked out, and I found a publishing company for this. Totally Bound Publishing. I published it under a pen name, C. McGrath, and I’m sure you can still find it out there somewhere if you really want to.
But I received a vicious, vicious editing letter from one of the publications I sent it to that basically tore the whole thing to shreds. Now, most publishers won’t send you something that thorough with a rejection. They’ll just send you a nice thanks but no thanks letter. This publisher took the time to go over EVERYTHING they thought was wrong with my book.
At that point, I thought, okay. No big deal. I’ve been rejected plenty of times before. But years later, I thought isn’t it weird my book made an editor angry enough they wrote a whole thing detailing everything wrong with it? I can’t speak for the editor. Maybe they really just didn’t like my story.
But, while publishing is trying to change, there are places that are still stuck in the dark ages. Places where certain types of manuscripts would not ever be able to get a footing. Based solely on the ideology of the people working and reviewing the work. This is why making it possible for writers everywhere to share their story is important. Why vanity presses and self-publishing are valid options for people, despite whatever snobbish notions the writing community has about it.
Free speech is something we take for granted in America, because everyone can post every hateful comment they think before breakfast. But how quickly we forget there are still countries out there that don’t allow this–not only in their printed works—but in their media. And as long as there are such places that exist, there must be places outside of the traditional institutions a person can share their ideas. Revolutionary or not.
That there are still people who don’t think so clearly don’t know the history of publishing. Edgar Allen Poe, at eighteen, self-published his first work in 1827.
Stephen King did what many writers today do and created his own publishing company and published People, Places, and Things in 1960.
Mark Twain self published The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1885.
Margaret Atwood self-published Double Persephone.
There is a notion that if you do not publish the traditional way, somehow you are less worthy than a published writer. Despite there being even modern, recent examples of writers, Colleen Hoover for example, who have proven this notion wrong.
As long as there are governments controlling writers (look up the Kakoa Page scandal that just happened recently with the Chinese government issuing the publisher pamphlets in regards to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet about what they could and couldn’t write that encouraged self-censorship) and media controlled by corporations that seek to hinder a persons message, there must always be someone that is willing to get that story out there for them.
This isn’t to say that publishers don’t serve a purpose. Obviously, they do. They are a good, reliable source of income for writers IF you can get your foot in the door. That said, there are still people who can hold it closed if they don’t like what you have to say. But the notion that there is only one way to publish legitimately is an outdated notion that needs to go. And, the fact remains, as long as the old guard has its foot there, it’s always going to be harder for certain kinds of writers to break through.
After all, it isn’t the publisher that makes the writer. It’s the writers that make the publisher. Which is why there must always be many options for writers, self-published or not, to get their story out there. It’s books they burn in revolutions not weapons and there must always be a way for words to spread regardless of who might not approve of them. Like governments, for example.
So, while I too, dream of publication in the traditional form, I will always champion for any alternative forms out there—whether it’s paying for it or being one of the chosen few from the literary elite— that let writers tell their stories when they might not have another option.