Too Vain for Vanity

Growing up, the only form of self-publishing I was aware of was vanity publishing and that only because it was the route my great-grandfather had taken. Up until very recently, whenever I thought of self-publishing my immediate thought was, “You mean I have to pay someone to publish my work?”

After all, wasn’t the whole point to being a published author that somebody else paid you to write? Having to self-publish at a vanity press was like admitting that my work wasn’t good enough to be accepted by a real publisher. Maybe that was the case, maybe it wasn’t.

Self-published books weren’t widely available when I was growing up, especially not since I did the majority of my book shopping at a used bookstore and the rest of my reading from a various selection of libraries. My opinion on self-publishing never had the opportunity to change. Even now, I don’t go out of my way to read something self-published. Most of my reading is done off of recommendation or by pulling books off of shelves and oohing over the cover. Well, that and fanatically following authors from one series to the next.

It was a very black and white view of the publishing world, either a publisher paid you to write or you paid a publisher to print what you wrote. There was no in-between in my mind. I was determined not to be the author that had to pay somebody to publish her work. I was going to be the best writer in the world. I kept expecting somebody to call me up and say, “Hey, we heard you want to be an author, please write us a book so that we can publish your amazing work.”

I was a teenager. My dreams were supposed to be unrealistic.

Now there are other options to self-publishing than vanity presses and they seem equally undesirable.

Self-publishing looks like it’s a lot of work. You have to find your own editor, which I could manage because one of my best friends is an editor. Then you’d have to find a way to pay them—and for something longer than a research paper, I’d feel obligated to pay her. Even with the friend discount, that would still run me quite a bit of money that I don’t have if I wanted it to be done well. Then you’d have to promote your work, which I’m led to understand involves extensively utilizing social media. Isn’t the whole point of Facebook the games, and the whole point of Twitter to post how drunk you are?

Repeat after me: “I am lazy.” So no, I don’t think I’ll try to self-publish a book.

At the age of six, Eliza was certain of two things. The first was that she had stories to tell. The second was that she had no talent for illustrating them herself. Talent or no, she still wrote and illustrated her first book, one that should be located and locked away if only to prevent her parents from embarrassing her terribly by showing it off alongside baby pictures. Now she spends her days writing stories that she isn't embarrassed to show off after a little bit of polishing.

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