The Beauty and Power of Self-Publishing
The typical story is: I can't find an agent or publisher interested in my manuscripts or brand of books. That was my story too (although, to be fair, I didn't give it much time or very many rejections). Impatience got the best of me. Or perhaps it served me well....
Consider these two scenarios:
After moving to a new city and state, very reluctantly and jarringly I might add, I found my life stripped bare of all the things that I used to give myself to (and receive from). Where my life before was full of ministry and activity, service and friendship, I found myself with an empty slate - bored and lonely, sad and lacking. It is in this year of emptiness that I mustered up the gumption to allow the spark of creativity to ignite. My passion from years ago to write children's books (of which I was getting inspiration on a regular basis), rekindled. It's as if a light shined upon the overlooked corner cobweb, which glistened with fresh beauty and invitation. I suddenly had the space and time to give to it. And what I discovered in that year was this: I had nothing but myself - and I was ENOUGH. I was thrust into the stark reality that I actually have what it takes to do life well, to be fully whole, to "vini vidi vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered). Just little ole me. The other stuff had fallen away, and what was left of me was beautiful and powerful - fully enough.
As the end of the first year in the new place and with my new life drew near, I got anxious about a nagging question: what have I done of worth? What had I accomplished, built, achieved, given, aided, grew, or otherwise affected by my existence? Of course there was the beautiful, great work of a new baby and my other 5 children, but I desperately wanted to be someone beyond that too. I needed to create more. Maybe you don't feel and think this way, but I can't help it. And if you can relate, we are soul-sisters and you can hang out on my floating cloud anytime! Anyway, with this weight pressing on me, I grasped for the most obvious and readily available thing - those children's books I had written a few years ago and had no time to do anything with because of my then full life. After strongly considering paying (a high price to) a vanity/hybrid press to publish my books, I had an author friend strongly encourage me to reconsider. Somehow she thought that this exhausted and depressed mother of 6 had time in her life to devote to doing all of the research and making all of the decisions involved in self-publishing. Somehow she believed that I had the courageous and creative capacity to tackle such a feat. Somehow she knew just the right words to say and just the right practical information to share to point me in that direction. Terrified and feeling out-of-shape in so many ways, I borrowed her faith and started dreaming about doing it on my own. As I researched, I learned that there were many pros to self-publishing. The most compelling to me was that I would not be entrusting my words to someone else to edit, control, illustrate, advertise, and own. My books would be my babies, fully conceived and grown, nurtured and dressed by me. The entire creative process would be mine with nothing to stifle it, or steer it, or override it. As daunting as that seemed, it also was incredibly freeing and compelling. As soon as I said "YES" to the grand adventure, the creativity started to flow, and its current swept me up and away.
So why am I glad I braved the self-publishing mountain? Because the products at the peak are hard-fought and proudly-won. The challenge was fulfilling. The art was enthralling. I discovered that I had everything in me that I needed to succeed. Part of that was the deep knowing that I needed to enlist others to help me (and exactly who they should be) - inviting them to join in the adventure, deeply grateful for their skill, support, and comradery. The collaborative experience was humbling and beautiful. And so much fun. The scary moments were exciting, the overwhelmed days were strengthening, and the victorious feelings were empowering. The view from up here inspires me, and I pray it inspires you too. Dare to create from your innermost being and offer it to the world. You are enough. Come. See. Conquer.