5 Comments

My Take

I keep finding myself in the middle of conversations about self-publishing.

First, this isn’t a rant against those that want to self-publish. That method is here to stay and only going to grow in my opinion. In fact, with each season, it seems more traditionally published authors are moving in that direction.

Second, I don’t ever intend to self-publish. That may change in the future, but I’m pretty firm in my stance. That isn’t an insult to those who have or intend to self-publish. It’s just my take at the moment. Why?

I could write ten blog posts on each reason, but I’ll zero in on two. Personal Growth and Validation.

personalgrowth

Personal Growth

When I planted our church seventeen years ago, I was 22. Two years in I thought I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. I remember sharing this at a Pastor’s meeting I attended, and a godly man said, “God has placed you in the ministry not for what you can do for Him, but because it’s the best place to make you more like Jesus. God is more interested in you than He is in your ministry.”

I know it’s cliche’ to talk about the journey instead of the destination, but it’s so true. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t go through the trials which targeted my pride, selfishness, and immaturity.

We live in a society of instant gratification. And I do wonder if this has bled into the publishing process for aspiring authors. Yes, rejection stinks. But it also teaches me that I can do better. I have read the writing of some fellow author’s who’ve self-published. A few are amazing. Most can do better.

And most will be better off honing their craft for a longer period of time. It’s rare to publish one’s first attempt at a novel. Why not try another story or two before self-publishing? Why not try to get some short stories published? Why not take the time to see if the problem isn’t the publishing industry, but rather my craft that needs improving?

Validation

I was taught in college that if no one is following, then I might not be leading well. Validation by others is so scorned today. Why is that? Paul said “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets”. Just because a person feels led to say something in church doesn’t mean they have a free-for-all to do so. We’re accountable to each other.

Self-validation terrifies me, especially when the Bible says my heart is deceitfully wicked and only understood fully by God. I want to be accountable to those who’ve gone before me, to receive their wisdom, both in rebuke and encouragement. Why should my writing career be different?

The entire book of Proverbs talks about the wisdom of receiving counsel and correction. I need it. I want it.

Many who have self-published have done these things. They’ve received validation of their skill through contests, mentoring programs, conferences, and the submission process. They’ve invested the time and money necessary to become more skilled in their craft. They’ve sought wisdom from those who’ve gone before them. Awesome 🙂

But here’s a phrase I’ve heard enough lately to make me uncomfortable. “I feel like God is telling me to self-publish.” That’s great, but as a Pastor I don’t let a person teach Sunday School to our kids because “they feel like God is telling them to”. There’s a vetting process. It works that way at the school where I work too. I want that vetting process for myself on every story I write.

“Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

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About Will Ramirez

Will Ramirez grew up with a love for God's Word and fantastical worlds. The first passion led him to pastor Calvary Chapel Lighthouse for the the last 17 years. The second led him to create the world of Adme, the setting for his coming debut novel, an epic fantasy titled Soul Yearning. He lives in Central Florida with his bride of seventeen years and their four children. Since 2010, he's been a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and serves on the leadership team of Word Weavers of Orlando. He is currently working on the second book of the Godslayer series as well as The Unspoken, book one of a dark fantasy trilogy. In the land of Adme, powerful beings rule as deities and compete with one another for followers. But when a young priest is revealed as the prophesied godslayer, the pantheon unites to destroy him.

5 comments on “My Take

  1. I sincerely appreciated your post. In light of that, I would be honored if you took a peak at my memoir and gave me your opinion. You can read several pages on Amazon and I also have a blog, if you would like to check it out. I ask you humbly because I believe you will be honest with me. Amazon — http://amzn.to/14IKPeO Blog –http://bit.ly/14ngUvr

    Thank you for your time and keep writing these great posts.

    • I’m no one special and am still learning. One of my prayers everyday is that the editing staff at my publishing house finds all the ways I can write a better book.

      That being said, I’d be honored to take a look 🙂

  2. I wholly agree with your logic. Even if one self-publishes, one needs the feedback of other and wiser heads if at all possible. Publishing traditionally amplifies and facilitates the peer review.

    It’s not just the journey/destination dichotomy which figures here, though. Not realizing this – in society at large – probably is largely responsible for the dichotomy becoming cliche, because it doesn’t apply in quite the same way to everyone. There’s also an informing/directing dichotomy and an initiating/responding dichotomy. That four-way combination of three choices puts people in four “interaction styles” with other people as well as with their work (cf. Dr. Linda Berens), and this surely affects how they deal with this issue. It wouldn’t surprise me if people who prefer to “get things going” (start projects and then delegate as much of the follow-through as they can to others) need less outside feedback than average in order to do well in their first drafts. On the other hand, it’s also harder than average to get them to actually finish a project they start! 🙂 Both would fit my personal experience, at least.

  3. “God has placed you in the ministry not for what you can do for Him, but because it’s the best place to make you more like Jesus. God is more interested in you than He is in your ministry.”

    I need a poster of this.

    It speaks to everything I want/fear in and for my writing.
    Just before Joe and I attended the conference where I pitched my novel, J.A. Konrath and Amanda Hocking crossed our radar–prior to her $2 mill advance deal. We questioned legacy publishing in the face of the rising wave of self publishing. Now, having read enough half-baked self published books to make me scream, I have no problem saying I don’t want to be that blind. It’s true that we don’t know *what* we don’t know when we are starting out.

    When I began this revision process, I thought I’d be done in 3 months tops. 3 years later…I feel even less than ¼ done. The whole saying about everything in God’s timing never seemed to fit–after all, how can it be in His timing if it’s still in my hands? I want this book to glorify Him and excellence is part of glorifying God. I don’t think I’m seeking perfection, but it’s difficult after all this time and work to still hear “it’s not there yet.” (When will I get it??)

    The last word I heard on this book was to “finish the work” a la Nehemiah…when the Israelites worked on the wall with one hand while holding spears and swords in the other. Yeah, that accurately describes this process. Only the sword hasn’t been wielded as well as I’d like. Puts me in mind of your teaching last Sunday on retraining our thinking. It’s not glamorous or self-elevating to realize this is the only way past the melancholy depression we artistic types face. It’s like Naaman and washing in the Jordan river. If we feel the cure is beneath us, we’re not really interested in being cured.

    So, one word at a time, one editing session at a time, I’ll keep on keeping on until I actually have something to ship. (Won’t that be a huge cause for celebration?)

    • Interesting comments and I hear you loud and clear. Please refer to my post yesterday re: Anyone can write — how do you get people to read it? http://bit.ly/1bjpZX4

      After years of being encouraged, challenged, and pushed to complete my memoir I finally did and all the revisions, frustrations and time invested was well worth it.

      So…..keep on keepin’ on.

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