Tuesday 9 July 2013

Discarding the shame of self-publishing

Self-publishing was never my plan.  I had long looked upon the idea as a desperate attempt by bad writer’s to purchase their moment of fame.  The term “vanity publishing” embodied all that I thought it could be.  A look in the mirror to boost your ego.
Ten years of searching for a publisher later, I stumbled on a novel-writing contest.  Yes!  I thought.  This is just what I need.  But the end date of the contest had come and gone and there seemed to be no thought of running the contest again.  Another opportunity lost.  But as I was already on the website, I decided to read more about the idea of publishing on demand. 

I have since publishing four books via this method.  At first, I tried to hide the fact that I had published myself, but it didn’t take long for those in-the-know to ferret out that little nugget of information.  My first book did surprisingly well.  I couldn’t wait to do more.  I had pages of unread material on my computer and now, at last, an avenue for my work to be read.  But I still felt I had failed.  I longed to have a publisher.  A contract.  A publicity tour. 
My husband recently finished a Master’s degree and along the way, has read aloud any snippets from the books he reads that have to do with writing.  I love hearing what other writer’s say about the craft.  It is always a confirmation of this work I so enjoy and an inspiration to keep going.  Last week, he read me a rather long passage from Eugene Peterson’s book The Pastor.  Peterson has had a fascinating career as a pastor, professor, and author of, among other things a best-selling translation of the Bible. 

He writes “I read Emily Dickinson’s pronouncement, ‘Publication is no business of the poet.’  (Truman) Capote exposed much of what I had been doing as ‘typing’ – using words to manipulate or inform or amuse.  Dickinson rescued me from a lust to be published.”  (The Pastor, p. 239)
The words sang through my writer’s soul.  Yes!  Being published is not the goal of my writing.  Learning, discovering, empathizing as I write is the goal.  To find a reader is a gift.  To have a well-written, deeply felt review is a trophy.  I have found these things in writing.  Most published authors work another job as well.  I am not so different and there is nothing to be ashamed of in self-publishing.  Of course, I wish I could afford a professional editor, publicist and someone who knows how to make my Kindle versions error-free, but still readers have found my work and joined my fanciful stories. 

To quote Peterson once more “It was a way of writing that involved a good deal of listening, looking around, getting acquainted with the neighborhood.  Not writing what I knew but writing into what I didn’t know, edging into a mystery.  This, I was learning, was what real writers did.”  (p. 238-239)  Beautiful.  It gives me chills.


  1. You'll get even more readers once your books come out in print. I am old-fashioned that way ;-).

    1. Hi Julia. Thanks for commenting! My books are available in print and in Kindle format on amazon.com. Just type in Samantha Adkins and there they are:) I have found I have sold about half of my books in print form, the other in Kindle format. I was dubious at first, as I only read books in print form myself, but there are a lot of e-readers out there. Thanks for reading!