Self-Publish: Why?

Below is a repost from the inactive blog of my other author account, updated and edited with permission of me.

The indie publishing world was set afire a couple of years ago over Laurie Gough’s Huffington Post essay on her perceived lack of respect for the written word by self-published authors like myself, a stance she’s since stepped back from. There was a storm of protests, and accusations of poor research, both of which she addresses in her retraction on her Facebook page.

That aside, the column accomplished one purpose: it got me thinking why there should be indie publishing in the first place. Calm down your keyboards because you should already know I’m an advocate. What I don’t like mindless leaping over the cliff to self publish without knowing why we post the crazy things on Kindle that we do. To say, “We climb Everest because it is there,” is the weakest of rationals, so how about this?

We self publish for two reasons: a legacy and money.

My grandmother in her later years self-published a thinly-disguised memoir about her days as a young lady in a boarding school in the 1920s. She waited to write her book until her seventies, decades after earning a Masters in English from Stanford. I admit her book is not for everyone, but without it, there’s one less novel about an era of education and teenage experience, now lost to us a hundred years later.

I want everyone to self publish their life if they can because we’re all storytellers of some sort. The best traditions and tall tales are passed via a word of mouth through the generations, and sometimes our mouths are closed before our time. Our descendants would miss hearing how we struggled with our versions of the American Dream, both good and bad, and how they became the tapestry that makes America what it is. Once we put a thousand of those books together, we’d have a well-rounded view of history and Americana.

Let’s not forget avarice as motivation. We want money for our hard work, the difference between being the professional scribe versus a wordy dork with a Kindle account. Earnings and profit validates the countless hours of plotting, transcribing, editing, and editing again. You can assign a higher purpose here, if you’d like: support your family, pay your bills, take care of student loans, etc. Those are all good reasons, but if you’re not intent on leaving a legacy, then you’re in it for the money.

These are two wide brushes I’m using to paint a solution, so if you have some other motivation that drives you to publish that doesn’t meet these two outcomes, I’d sure love to hear it.

Edit: Reading this old post with fresh eyes, I see now that this post was both cynical and self involved. There is a third reason, the best reason: we want to help each other . We live in insane times where hate is the currency of life for too many people. I beg of you: if you have a light in this darkness, turn it on. Publish your stories, show us the way, and bring us a little hope. You’ll do us all a world of good.

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