Anniversary Contest Finalist #2 – Success Feels Like Failure

This post, from Virginia Ripple, originally appeared on her The Road to Writing blog on 3/6/10 and is reprinted here in its entirety with her permission. This is Virginia’s entry in our anniversary contest, in which the winners are selected based on total unique page views. So if you like it, and would like to see Virginia become a regular Publetariat Contributor, spread the word and the link!

Last Sunday I had a wonderful thing happen in my absence at church. My mother (who is one of my biggest fans :D ) took my book to her Sunday school class and, for lack of a better description, “marketed” it. Before the class was over there was a volunteer to write up an article for the church newsletter. Before the worship service that follows Sunday school concluded, the minister was informed of my book. He said that, if the person who volunteered to write the article hadn’t, then he would have. From there it’s supposed to make it’s appearance at the next monthly elders’ meeting. It seems that things are beginning to roll for Fear Not! Discovering God’s Promises for Our Lives.

So why does it all feel like I’ve failed?

It’s because of the POD stigma. As soon as someone says, “Congratulations on getting your book published!” I ask myself if I deserve the congratulations. Surely I do. I worked as hard putting together a book I’m proud of as a straight A university student does to stay on the Dean’s list. (I even “pulled an all-nighter” a time or two. ;) )

Then comes the question, “Who published it?” I answer honestly that it was published by Lulu, but I don’t always add that it’s a large self-publishing company. That bothers me. Afterall, I’m a trail-blazer like all the other Indies out there.

I’ve been thinking about it all week and I have an idea why writers are stigmatized more so than any other Indie. We’re the customer who jumps into the “just opened” line at the store before anyone else realizes it’s open. The traditionalists are upset at themselves for not venturing outside the status quo. The good news is that there are traditionally published authors such as Stephen King, Douglas Rushkoff, and Douglas Clegg who are now jumping into self-publishing, according to M.J. Rose in the article Self-Publish Stigma Is Perishing.

On the flipside, Rose says there are also Indie authors being signed on to traditional publishing houses after their book breaks the 5,000 and 10,000 sales mark. That’s a very good reason to start out as a self-publisher. Of course, as Ray Robinson points out in his article Self Publishing Stigma, unless you do everything you can to market your book you’ll be lucky to end up in the 6% who break even. That’s why having a marketing strategy and doing as much research on marketing techniques is so important (and a subject for yet another post :) ).

There are a lot of reasons why achieving success as an Independent Author can sometimes feel like failure. Most of those boil down to letting the ubiquitous “other” make us feel unworthy of the title Author. I hope that someday we’ll all be able to throw off our cloaks of undeserved shame and walk in the sun of success on The Road to Writing.


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