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July 12, 2010

I AM a real author

Hi all! This is my first blog as a member of the Novel Spaces community and I am very happy to have been asked to join this group.

I am a self-published author. This was not my first choice. I write children’s books based in the Caribbean and so my largest audience is in the Caribbean. When I made the decision to write a book, I approached every publishing house in the Caribbean to no avail. I was rejected; not because my idea was not feasible, or because my writing was horrible. I did not even get an audience, none would even consider a manuscript. With one voice, they announced that they were only interested in textbooks and scholarly works and since I had the gall to write a book just for fun, they were not interested.

I decided not to let that stop me. I had a story that I felt Caribbean children needed to read and that I needed to write, so I decided to self-publish.

Does self-publishing make me less of an author?

There are many days when I ask myself that question. On those days I blush when I have to admit to potential readers that I was not snatched up by a big name publishing house. I can see disappointment cross their faces – ‘how good could my books be if I had to pay to get them printed?’ KeVin alluded to this sentiment in his novel spaces post just last week.

The thing is that, although anyone can self-publish, the process is self-limiting. If I had not got the great response that I had to the first of my two children’s books, if I had not broken even, I would not have moved forward to the second.

Of course, it is possible that readers don’t tell you the truth. Look at all of the singers who enter talent shows without a shred of singing talent. They probably had ‘friends’ egging them on and complimenting their singing ability. But my audience is comprised mainly of young children and they generally don’t lie unless they are provoked. When I walk through the halls of my children’s elementary school and their friends stop me and say spontaneously “Auntie …” (I live in a part of the world where children still address adults respectfully) “Auntie, I loved your book” and very often “Auntie, when can I read the next one,” then I believe that I am making a worthwhile contribution after all.

Maybe one day I will write more mainstream books, perhaps one day I will be successful in my attempts to attract a publisher, but until then, I will continue to put my money where my mouth is and put out books until my audience tells me it’s time to go.

What are your thoughts on the issue? Are you less likely to purchase a book once you find out that it is self-published?

(Originally appeared on Novel Spaces on July 12, 2010)

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