Guest Blog by Johanna Harness – Writer Shaming May 2, 2014Posted by techtigger in Uncategorized.
In honor of the release of Johanna’s book “Spillworthy,” the Soapbox is proud to share her story – a very brave, and candid look at the choice to self publish.
I feel somewhat naïve for believing this. In truth, big publishers focus on making books marketable. Better and marketable are not synonymous. If they were, celebrities who make us cringe would not be offered massive book deals. If they were, Firefly would not have been cancelled after season one. Sometimes we don’t get what we want.
I had a good agent. She was doing her job well when I fired her. Like many relationship break-ups, we just didn’t want the same things anymore. I hired her to sell my work to a big publisher and she gave me the advice needed to make my work more marketable. I decided to go another direction.
If authors don’t want to change their writing to fit the market, we’re called bad names. After all, a real writer would do it. A writer with enough talent would think nothing of it. If a writer won’t change, she’s either too proud or too arrogant. She shows a lack of respect for everyone ever published by traditional publishers, and risks the possibility her friends inside the industry will quit talking to her. She’s not willing to play by the rules. She must want publishers to fail, and by association, libraries. She wants to put independent bookstore owners on the street. And probably she doesn’t care about the coffee shops where they buy their mochas. She’s committing career suicide. She’s such a loser she has to self-publish.
Just change the book. Sell your rights. Ignore the cover with the black kid set in shadow. It’s not like you had any say in the matter. Don’t make the kids so smart. You’d do it if you were a real writer. You’d do it if you were hungry. There are a lot of people who will do it if you won’t.
Yeah. That’s me. I’m taking my writer shame, boxing it up, and setting it on a shelf. There’s a door to the side of the room, the one that leads to self-publishing, the one that everyone says not to open. Sometimes it glows white hot with possibility and that’s when we’re told to fear it the most.
I’m tired of fear and shame. I need to know for myself.
I walk through with the worst expectations. I accept the future predicted for me and, instead. . .
I find a world good, and sweet, and generous. I cry when readers write to me and tell me they loved my book. I cry when I get good reviews. I cry when people tell me they love my cover. I cry when they ask about my next book. I cry when I am loved.
I cry even more when someone says I’ve inspired them, that they’ve come to believe they might also be worthy of love.
Writer shame be damned.
“It’s good?” they ask from the other side of the door.
“Yes.” My answer is unequivocal. “It’s very good.”
– – –
Johanna Harness lives in Idaho in a life filled with beauty and generosity. The corners of her world are filled with chickens, cats, guinea pigs, sheep, and children. Her debut, middle-grade novel, Spillworthy, is independently-published. It contains smart kids thinking smart thoughts, homeless people who are not burned out with despair, and caring adults who don’t die in the first chapter.
You can buy her book here: http://www.amazon.com/Spillworthy-Johanna-Harness-ebook/dp/B00JZ6PHKI