When I was an aspiring writer, I often heard other wannabes bitch about the unfairness of it all. You know the conversation – it’s not about the writing, it’s all about who you know. The only people who get ahead are those with trust funds, who went to Ivy League schools, the types who rub elbows with New York gatekeepers and can slip agents manuscripts over drinks…yadda yadda yadda. Stubborn idealist that I am, I refused to believe them. I’d been raised by movies that told me “If you put your mind to it, you can do anything.”
Self publishing is of tremendous value to our field. It allows us to find readers, and that’s the point, right? Before the internet and e-readers, the barriers standing between writers and their readers were preposterously high. No other art faced such obstruction. Bands didn’t need record deals to play at bars or clubs. Artists sold their work everywhere from craft fairs to coffee shops to street corners. Keeping 99% of all writers from sharing their work is just unnatural. It’s like saying, you can only play basketball if you make it to the NBA. Here's why you might consider the DIY route.
If you can’t wait for agents or editors to get back to you, you’re not committed to writing a good book. (I promise I know how agonizing the wait can be.) Speed might be an argument for certain time-sensitive non-fiction, but not a novel. Have you ever noticed that after an author has a runaway best seller, their next book stinks? Everyone’s making so much money they push the writer into rushing the next book, which inevitably lands in bookstores half baked.
I spend a lot of time encouraging writers to reach into their hearts and get out of their heads (those inner critics are serious assholes). Only, there does come a time to unleash your intellect. That time is called revision.
These are my own tried and true techniques for revising without getting overwhelmed.
When being turned down by literary journals and literary agents and magazines and book publishers, my grad school friends and I would console ourselves by saying, “at least we’re not trying to make it as models.”