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.
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?
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.”