To self-published authors and independent artists
February 3, 2020
"Although your approach is very interesting, I noticed the length of the work. We usually publish volumes of at least 180-200 printed pages. According to my calculations, your work comprises 130 pages. Even after some extensions have been made I cannot promise that the editors would accept your manuscript."
The above is a direct quote from a rejection e-mail for my recent non-fiction manuscript. From a reputable European publisher no less.
So what do I, as a writer, do with that reasoning? What should I be compelled to fix in the manuscript if we are regressing into quantity over quality? Wouldn't it be more professional--and fairer--to state that the topic does not fit their current priorities, as a few other rejection e-mails have explained? What do I do with the abrupt assumption that after lengthening the manuscript--which I'd expressed I was more than willing to do--it wouldn't be acceptable anyway to the editors who haven't even had the chance to read the proposal let alone the manuscript? Nevertheless, I can console myself with the evaluation that my approach is "interesting."
This is when I applaud Drew Barrymore. And others who have decided to start their own production companies to bypass the creative control of biased individuals in charge. Of course, I do not have Drew Barrymore's fame. Or capital.
But what I do have is the option of self-publishing. Echoes of the stigma associated with the sometimes-referred-to-as-delusional act of publishing your own work still reach me. However, I am riding the surging wave of authors fed up with publishers who decide their manuscripts' fates without even giving them a real chance.
Amazon offers self-publishing for free through its KDP program--with some glitches like numbering all the pages in the paperback version, including the title, copyright, and epigraph pages. Well, you could always start your own trend and say that this was intentional, an intrinsic part of your writer's vision in which every page counts... literally. It might also be that I am technically challenged by KDP's pagination mysteries. But let's not look a gift horse in the mouth; theirs is a generous service. Xlibris is wonderful and highly professional, but not free. And there are other self-publishing services out there.
What is my point? I want to take this moment to salute you, independent authors, filmmakers, songwriters, artists out there. When you burn to express something, when you create a work, not for superficial motivations but in connection with the authentic, fundamental essence of your creativity, transcending judgment, trends, and conformity, share it without hesitation. Our world today is overflowing with information and possibilities of self-production, and some of us may ask ourselves: what am I doing this for? Why am I releasing that album or publishing this book; who really cares? It is not at all about that. What you are sending out there is a unique expression of you, and it is your duty to release it. Somewhere sometime someone will encounter your work and feel. Your work will become a part of them and they will be forever connected to you. Your work will tell them: you are not alone, I have felt this way too, I have lived this too. And you never know at what moment in someone's life this apparently random encounter can shift their perspective and save them from a bad decision or a bad moment.
So if you have something to say, don't play it safe, don't be the conformist. Travel the "lonely" road of being both producer and publicist of your own work. You are not alone. And neither will be the readers, listeners, and viewers who will connect to your artistry and humanity.