Wednesday, May 30, 2012

self-publishing and self-doubt

Having decided to self-publish some of my personal, literary work on the Amazon Kindle, I've been struggling with something that seemed like less of an issue in traditional publishing: self-doubt.  Before putting Suck Nectar Vomit Honey and Within Our Bones up on Kindle, my main approach to getting my poetry and fiction in front of an audience was publication in literary journals.  It takes a lot of work to get something published in a literary journal--a long time ago I heard that the average submission got rejected 16 times before finding a home, and I wouldn't be surprised if the average is a lot higher than that now--but at least, when your poem or short story does get accepted, that acceptance carries with it the implication of some sort of approval.  When you self-publish, you're on your own.  And so putting up intimate, personal work, work where you dig deep to expose emotions and experiences and ideas that are crucially important to you, can become an exercise in agonizing self-doubt.  It's made all the worse by the fact that potentially millions of people can read your stuff once you put it up on Kindle--as opposed to the old literary journal model, where chances are only a few thousand copies of the issue with your work would be printed.  So I've been squirming a bit, recently, worrying that someone I know would pick up a copy of my poetry or story collection, see my intimate thoughts, condemn me as some disgusting little monster, and I won't be able defend myself with the excuse that "I didn't publish it, the editor did.  She's the one that thinks it's worth publishing."

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