Self-published authors should pay their dues to the industry like real authors.
I read this on a blog somewhere several years ago and thought that pay their dues was a really weird expression, I still think it’s weird, but now I understand what they were trying to say.
In the traditional publishing system, an author gains publication for a book only after countless rejections and numerous attempts at writing. Putting yourself through this is like trial by fire, you either turn to ash or you become stronger and brighter, burnished by the flames rather than destroyed by them.
The system is hard and it’s not fair, but the rejections and the time it takes to go through the process forces authors to revise more than they would otherwise. This is particularly beneficial for first time authors, and I highly recommend trying the traditional route with your first book. It will teach you the discipline required to produce your best work. If you’re wondering,’ should I try traditional publishing’, then read on, because there are benefits, whether you find a publisher or not.
This is how it works.
- After several drafts, responding to feedback from your 5 or more beta readers and self-editing as much as you can, you submit your manuscript (ms) to an agent or two.
- While you wait, you read mainstream books, study writing and practice your skills by writing something else.
- Several months later you receive your rejection emails.
- You look at your ms again. This time, if you took step 2, you have more knowledge from your study, more practice at writing and a better idea of the standards the professionals consider necessary for publication. The time you’ve spent away from your ms gives you a perspective on your work you don’t get any other way. You see faults in your ms that you didn’t see before.
- You edit your book again and submit it to a few more agents and publishers.
- Rinse and repeat steps 2-5 until your ms compares well with mainstream published books. If your book has potential, by then you’ll have received some word of encouragement, something that indicates that you should consider self-publishing. I had an agent, several very positive rejections and a ‘near miss’ publishing deal.
- If you get nothing positive from anyone, consider shelving your book. Publishers know what sells. Are you prepared to go the indie route and put money into your product only to discover they were right and it wasn’t worth publishing? Whether you re-affirm your commitment to your book or shelve it, you’ve avoided the main reason for poor quality self-published books which is premature publication.
Whether you take the mainstream route or not, you can’t produce a quality book without this, or an equivalent, extensive revision and review process. This is what they mean by paying your dues.