...and I didn’t even
balk at that “final edit for length” that stripped what little was left
of my voice ...
heard the horror stories of being self/POD-pubbed. “You’re not a real
author.” “Self-pubs just couldn’t wait for God’s timing in their
lives.” “Those who self-pub don’t have the discipline to do it the
right way.” “Their books are sub-par. They are
Don’t worry. You don’t have to
tell me. I’ve heard them all before and many more. That’s okay because
I’m not in this to impress anybody. I learned a long time ago that
trying to impress others will invariably lead you down a road you do
not want to travel. Therefore, I will state this as plainly as I can so
there will be no misunderstandings. I am self-pubbed (via POD), and I
couldn’t be happier.
That’s right. I love being
self-pubbed, and at this point I have no desire to be “validated” by
having something I’ve written accepted by a traditional house, an
agent, or an editor. Not that any of that is bad—for someone else, but
for me, God has shown me that twisting my writing, my voice, and my
style into something that “they” will deem acceptable is not where I’m
supposed to be.
At one time I was
there—desperately wanting to “learn” and “edit” so that I could be
published. With my first published book, I had an editor and a massive
desire to please. I made almost every change he suggested, and I didn’t
even balk at that “final edit for length” that stripped what little was
left of my voice and style right out of the book. It was a hard lesson,
but one I am eternally grateful for having learned.
I see many new authors who have
great, unique, God-given voices, and then they get taken off by the
Pied Piper of being Published. They want to be accepted. They want to
learn to write “marketable.” They want to make money at this writing
thing. And so, they submit their work to be shredded by critique groups
and agents and editors. When it comes back, bled all over, they change
everything—the words, the story, the style, the voice—until the story
they have isn’t the story they were telling in the first place, and no
one could even recognize the voice.
In the first conception of the
book, Sue was a horse wrangler in Texas whose wild horses were being
stolen by Pete. After being sent through the critique/agent/editor
shredder, Kelly is a horse trainer in Baltimore who hates Edgar because
of something his grandfather did 50 years ago. You think I’m kidding?
It gets just
that ridiculous. And then after the author has made
every conceivable change, they are told, “This just doesn’t work for
all honesty, that whole game doesn’t work for me. I have a voice. A
unique voice that God gave me. I like my voice and my style. Because
I’ve chosen to self-pub, my voice and my style are not on the auction
block. I am not told at every turn, “You have to change this. This
won’t work. It needs to be more like all the others out there to be
marketable.” I’m not interested in being marketable or even impressive.
I’m interested in being me.
I’ve found that the more I am
myself in my writing, the more my readers enjoy my books, the more
authors ask me to edit their work (because I don’t superimpose my voice
and style on theirs, rather I help their voice and style shine
through). Yes, I learned my lesson, and I’m using it to help others.
The extremes of traditional vs.
POD can be detrimental to an author’s vision, style, and voice. The
traditional route often stuffs an author’s voice and style into a
“marketable” box. The story then sounds just like that other author who
sounds like that other-other author. This is what I call the shredder.
Many authors have gone through the shredder only to hold in their hands
not their own work, but a conglomeration of the work of all the people
who’ve edited it. (I call this “writing by committee.”) More than one
author has quit writing forever at that point.
On the other end, I’ve seen
authors who’ve gone the self/POD-pubbed route who came out in the end
with a book that has errors in it, that sells for way too much, and
that others put down and scoff at. I’ve seen my share of authors quit
Neither extreme is what God
intended. I want to help authors find their voice and use that voice to
sing God’s stories to the world. I want to help them learn to “be
themselves before God.” In doing so, I’ve seen lives open up, visions
achieved, beautiful stories come to life, and even relationships with
God set on a firm foundation.
I take this calling very
seriously. My mother brought me home from the hospital in a green
dress. For years I hated green until one day a friend of mine pointed
out that I AM green because I am like the stem under the flowers. I
nourish, encourage, support and help author-flowers to bloom and grow
into the beauty God made them to manifest. That’s what being
self/POD-pubbed did for me—it let me manifest my God-given writing
beauty the way it was intended to be, and now, I want to pass that gift
on to others.