Self-publishing: The sin and the shame

Four years ago, I began work on my novel. It would be called The Namesake and it would be my attempt to talk about the power of faith. I knew what I wanted to say, and I knew how I wanted to say it: the main character would have no name, I would embarrass my verbs with an untrendy use of the passive voice and after a couple of page-turning chapters of sci-fi I would kick my reader clear off the page and into something like a popular history essay. I was confident that I could make it work, but attracting the talents of a literary agent? Not so much…

I have no idea what the life of an agent is like. I imagine reams of dreams rising from a desktop begging to be read and precious evenings and weekends filled with deadlines and decisions. Lots of pressure, lots of pages (lots of Prosecco?). What would my victim make of a sample from The Namesake? I guessed that even if they liked the characters, they would be put off by the style, especially since they would only have the time to read a short sample, not the luxury of seeing the novel as a whole. It felt unfair to burden an agent with a book they would be so unlikely to take on (although I did try a few, ‘sorry you’). What to do? Change the style or….?

After a wobble or two, I decided the way I wanted to tell The Namesake was integral to the piece itself and I needed to hold onto it, so my thoughts turned to self-publishing. I reasoned the only people who cared about the sin of self-publishing were writers, and the only person who would feel its shame was me. Most readers aren’t interested in how a book gets to their bedside table; they just want a decent story to curl up with after a hard day in the unwritten world. If I self-published I would have the freedom to tell The Namesake just the way I wanted. My only concern was that this freedom meant it would be down to me to find the professional help needed at every stage from first draft to post-launch promotion.

And, so began my life as an indie-author.

I have had to be disciplined in seeking (and following) the advice of professionals along the way but my novel is written, it’s selling (modestly), and I’m even signing the odd copy at spoken word events (which is a lark). Most importantly, The Namesake is the novel I had imagined. Committing the sin of self-publishing allowed me to stick to my creative vision. Did I pull it off? Should I feel any shame? Why not buzz over to Amazon and judge for yourself? I value your opinion.