Publishing, Self-Publishing, and Choosing to be Seen
By Sonora Taylor
Traditional or self-publishing – what’ll it be? We’re in an era where one can choose both. I think that’s especially helpful for writers who are unsure about how they want to get their stuff out there, but know for sure that they want to.
I was that writer in 2016, when one of my New Year’s resolutions was to spend a little time writing after work each day. I started a short story I’d been plotting in my head for a few months – a story that eventually became “All the Pieces Coming Together.” I finished that one, and wrote another one. Then another. Then, I started a piece that I slowly realized would become my first novel.
The publishing side of writing is a whole other world, and almost a full-time job; whether you’re querying with publishers or deciding to go at it on your own. I decided to self-publish before I discovered the ins and outs of submitting to publishers. I’d heard the pros and cons of self-publishing, and decided I liked the pros of it.
Two years into self-publishing, I still do. I like being able to choose things like my title and who gets to design my cover (all of my covers were illustrated by the super-talented Doug Puller). I like being able to work consistently with my wonderful editor, Evelyn Duffy. I like seeing my books sell, and I like hearing feedback from readers. And, I especially like getting to see just what happens when I put my work out in the world.
Nothing huge has happened yet. None of my work has blown up, but it also hasn’t collected digital dust. It’s been read, and it’s been enjoyed – all at a calm and steadily-growing pace, one I can still control by controlling the publishing side as much as the writing side.
This control has helped give me more confidence to put my work out there. I have anxiety, and something that often sets off my panic is unforeseen ramifications from putting something of mine out in the world (be it a book, an email, or even an opinion – it’s exhausting, but that’s for another post). Before publishing my first short story collection, I was fraught with nerves. What will people think? What if everyone hates it and there are hate blogs or hate tweets talking about how shitty my work is? I still remember my heart ramming in my chest at these thoughts, the sadness and ways out I was devising for these scenarios. It took up a lot of my time, time that would’ve been better spent writing.
When I self-published “The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales,” none of those things happened. It sold at a reasonable pace. It got some reviews on Amazon (all positive for now – yay) and appeared on strangers’ Goodreads shelves. It’s still out there and still selling. It’s quietly present – an evergreen experience I’ve found with each piece, and an experience that helps to temper my anxieties about sharing my work.
By choosing to self-publish, I was able to give myself a confidence boost that’s made writing, submitting, and publishing a much less stressful experience. When I was first submitting, I went through similar panicked experiences before ever pressing “Send.” Self-publishing isn’t a catch-all for what comes next, but it gave me a good idea – and helped calm me down during the submission process. I began submitting more peacefully, looking at calls for stories and getting my stuff out there, but always with the knowledge that I had choices when it came to releasing my work – work that people wanted to read, and work that people enjoyed. And wouldn’t you know, I got my first acceptance almost one year after self-publishing “The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales.”
I can’t say what my future in publishing will hold. Even if I end up releasing something through a publishing company, I don’t know if I’ll ever give up self-publishing. I like setting my own production and distribution schedule, and I like working with Doug and Evelyn. I also like having self-publishing as a constant in terms of getting my work out there. I like being able to do both, and I think authors being able to choose both is a great place to be in.
You can check out Sonora’s latest release, ‘Without Condition’ on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/
Sonora Taylor is the author of The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, Please Give, and Wither and Other Stories. Her short story, “Hearts are Just ‘Likes,’” was included in Camden Park Press’ Quoth the Raven, an anthology of stories and poems that put a contemporary twist on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Her work has also been published in The Sirens Call and Mercurial Stories. “The Crow’s Gift” will be featured on the horror podcast “Tales to Terrify” later in 2019. Her second novel, Without Condition, is now available in ebook and paperback on Amazon. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband.
Find Sonora Online:
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/sonorawrites/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Sonora-Taylor/e/B075BR5Q7F/
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