Why I’m Giving Up on My Dream


This isn’t a post I ever imagined I’d write.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a  novelist. Half a lifetime ago, when I was thirteen, I started working on my first novel. (It was pretty crap, for the record, but I learnt a lot.)

I’ve hung around fiction writers – older, more experienced writers – since my early teens.

And I know the writer’s dream, because it was my dream too.

  1. Write a novel.
  2. Get an agent.
  3. Get a publisher.
  4. Become a real author.

It’s the dream which led me from university into a steady office job: I was sure that it would only take a few months for me to land an agent. And then I could quit, right?

(That wasn’t how it went in the end. I stumbled into the brave new world of paid blogging instead. And THEN I quit.)

I took a creative writing degree, to help me towards that dream. Because I know that agents – the magic gatekeepers of the publishing world – will pay more attention to writers who’ve been through some serious training.

I went to conferences to hear, first-hand, what agents and editors were looking for. I talked to some. I showed them my work and listened to their advice.

I clung onto that dream for so long. Because I really really wanted it.

It’s the writer’s dream. It’s what all of us want; it’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

But I Wanted it for the Wrong Reasons

I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching over the past few months.

Why do I really want an agent and a book deal?

It’s not so that I can write full-time – I do that already.

It’s not because I don’t have an audience or platform of my own – thousands of people read what I write online.

It took me a while to admit it, but I realised there was one big ugly reason why I couldn’t let go of my dream.

I wanted to impress people. I wanted to be able to say “I have an agent!” and have everyone be happy for me – and maybe even a bit envious of me.

Not a great reason, really.

Not something I’m proud of.


Here’s the New Dream

Over the past three years, I’ve sold hundreds of blog posts. I’ve self-published several ebooks. I’ve coached writers. I’ve built my own little business from the ground up, and it’s been an exhilarating adventure.

And I’ve come to realise … there’s no reason, no reason at all, why I can’t do the same with my fiction.

I’ve got a ton of respect for agents and publishers; I’ve met plenty of fantastic people in the industry. But I don’t think that traditional publishing is the right route for me. (Not right now, anyway.)

I’ve got a new dream.

Actually, this is better than the old dream. This is a plan.

I’m going to publish my novel, Lycopolis, myself.

I’ll have full control over its success (or failure). I can do it on my timescale, in my way, without waiting months and months for agents and publishers to get back to me.

I’ll be bringing Lycopolis out as an ebook and as a paperback.

I’ll get to do all sorts of fun things – like a book trailer, and some website tie-ins, and blog tours, and … well, it’s an adventure. I’ll see where it leads me.

This isn’t a step I’m taking lightly. And it’s not a dream that I think other writers should necessarily share.

But it’s my dream. Not my friends’ dream, or my critique group’s dream, but mine.

And I can make it happen.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging occasionally about the indie publishing journey and sharing what I learn along the way. (I’ll also be writing about other things too, in the hopes of not boring you…) To follow along, grab the RSS feed, or pop your email address in the box below:

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102 thoughts on “Why I’m Giving Up on My Dream

  1. Good job, Ali! Your posts have all been leaning this direction for a while, so I wasn’t too surprised by your conclusion (though for a second I thought the title was referring to you deciding to give up your novel altogether! That would have been sad.). Even though writing a novel doesn’t have much appeal to me right now, I’m really excited and interested to follow along with your journey!
    Maria Walters’s last blog post ..Turn your obstacles into opportunities

    • Yeah, I didn’t think this would be too much of a shock (the title, maybe…! Sorry if I worried you!)

      Hope you enjoy following along; I think novel-writing has a lot of useful parallels — not just in other areas of writing, but in life in general.

      • The title was supposed to be a little provocative… I’ll try to explain briefly (although maybe I need to write a whole new post on this).

        In my little corner of the internet, there’s a ton of talk about “following your dreams”, which I think is great. The problem is, sometimes a dream is just that — a dream. And like you both point out, dreams can and do evolve. In my case, it’s partly that *I* have changed and partly that the publishing world has changed.

        Maybe I need to write more on this…

  2. I have to agree with @Icy … Although you may not have a publisher and the supposed austerity that goes with that, but you will still be a “real author” without the publishing house or agent. Actually, I believe your route will be more impressive. You will be your own publisher, designer, editor and marketing department. In my humble opinion and view that’s far more impressive a feat than dealing with a publishing house and an agent.

    Your dream has evolved, not died!

    • Absolutely! I didn’t mean in any way to imply that this is a “second best” dream. I think the original dream was very rose-tinted anyway (and I think I’m going to need to follow up this post with another one about that…)

      I’m hoping to rope in some professional design and editing help (I don’t have much natural skill/interest in design, and I find it very tough to edit my own work) — but I’ll be doing that on my terms. 🙂

  3. Dreams evolve.

    I wouldn’t say you gave up on your dream, I would just say that it evolved into something better under the current circumstances. Maybe it’s just semantics, but either way it takes courage to admit that (especially publicly).

    The internet is the great equalizer today. You can see that the book publishing industry is changing drastically. Borders in bankruptcy. Barnes and Noble is struggling. Kindle and Nook are selling more and more. It’s a good time to self-publish, especially with your experience and success.

    Good luck and enjoy the journey.
    Jeff’s last blog post ..The End of Affiliate Marketing as We Know It

    • Evolved is probably a better way to look at it … though I was trying to get at the emotional journey (and it has felt like a giving up!)

      And I absolutely agree with you: it’s a great time to do this and the internet is the biggest game-changer in publishing since the Gutenberg press.

      Thanks for your kind words too! I think my success has been pretty moderate so far (not that I’m not happy with it!) so here’s to the future…

  4. I agree with the above that your dream has only evolved. Towards that end, I think it would be informative to read the Joe Konrath’s blog. He’s an author who has been kind of pioneering the current evolution of ebooks and has some really impressive numbers and income to back it up. There may be good information there for you. Luck to you!


  5. Ali! This is so super ridiculously exciting!

    I’m so proud of you. I’m proud of you for knowing yourself – even when it was scary and unpleasant. I’m proud of you for listening to your heart. I’m proud of you for “giving up”.

    You’re amazing. I’m humbled and grateful to have you as my friend.
    Kyeli’s last blog post ..Awesome Apprenticeship- March

  6. First off, well done for taking this decision. The world is changing and while publishing as it stands now won’t be going away, a lot of new opportunities arise.

    Second, if you do make a book trailer, please for the love of everything don’t make one that sucks. Of course, your problem is this: Every book trailer sucks. So good luck with that 🙂

    Third, and this one is picky, please stop calling it indie publishing. You’re self-publishing. Indie publishing is when you take your book to a small press and they make your book and do a bit of marketing for you. I realise there’s a massive stigma attached to self-publishing, but all these folks claiming to be indie publishers are just trying to escape that. Self-publish your no doubt excellent novel, call it that, and be proud of the internet for giving us all these opportunities 🙂

    Best of luck!
    Sam’s last blog post ..Books I’ve Really Enjoyed

    • Cheers!

      Re. book trailer — sure, maybe it’ll suck. But it’s something I want to have a go at, because the idea excites me. I figure that people who don’t like book trailers can just not watch it … 😉

      Re. indie publishing … like you, I came across “independent publishing” = “small press publishing”. It seems like there’s a bit of a semantic shift going on (certainly in the circles I move in) where “indie publishing” has become the equivalent of “indie film making” or similar. I certainly don’t want to confuse anyone — on the other hand, I do see the advantages of using the language of an established, vocal online community…

    • Just thought I’d get in on the indie publishing thing as I am one 🙂 and it’s becoming a highly used term in the self-pub space.
      I’m an indie author but I also publish my own books through LightningSource & Amazon KDP and I have my own publishing company, The Creative Penn. I only publish my own books, so I am a very small press but I’m still independent in all ways. Indie is also being embraced as a new generation of internet savvy authors use Print On Demand and ebooks instead of small print runs (which was the old way of self-publishing).
      In the end, the semantics don’t matter – the attitude does, and as Ali says, it’s a terminology that is being used now – with no offence to any indie film-makers, indie-musicians or indie-publishers intended. Live and let live 🙂
      Joanna Penn’s last blog post ..Writer’s Block Take Note

      • I learnt the term from you, Joanna, so my understanding is pretty much the same as yours! I feel that “indie” implies a slightly different mindset from “self-published”. It’s a shame that there’s a stigma for us to overcome, but I think it’s still there in much of the writing world…

  7. I too had a very nasty moment, Ali, when I thought you meant you were giving up on your novel entirely! Attention-grabbing title to this post! I know that you’ve been thinking hard about this for some months and totally respect the decision you’ve made. I’ve been agonising about this with my writing too, as you well know. It isn’t that there isn’t the possibility of an agent/publisher liking you, it’s that even with an agent’s backing your book may still not be bought and the inordinate length of time while you wait on tenterhooks for a response is incredibly draining to the spirit. I wish you all the very best with publication of Lycopolis – we have trailblazers like J. Konrath and Joanna Penn to provide models – but I’ll be very interest to hear about your experiences along the way. Go Ali! xxx

    • I feel a bit bad about the title now..!

      I have indeed been thinking about this for a good while, and it’s really been in the last couple of months that I’ve changed my mind on what I originally thought/felt (in this post I was tackling the emotional journey, but there’s a whole host of practical reasons too!)

      I’ve seen one of my MA peers, an *excellent* writer, land an agent but not a book deal, and that (among other things) has made me realise that perhaps the dream isn’t quite as great as we’ve been led to think…

      I’ll definitely be blogging about the indie journey; it’s been fascinating to read Joanna’s experiences, and I’ve found Konrath’s number breakdowns really intriguing.

      Thanks for the encouragement, too! 🙂

  8. I really admire that honesty and courage in changing your mindset. So much so that it shook me out of my lurking to actually comment for the first time!

    It’s also really exciting so I’ll just add my congratulations and wishes of good luck and look forward to hearing about your progress, which I have no doubt will be fantastic.

    • Thanks Frances! And I appreciate the de-lurking too — welcome! 🙂

      Will definitely be keeping the blog updated with my progress; I’m excited about where this’ll lead me!

  9. Dreams – even delicious ones – that we’re chasing for the wrong reasons never work, do they? Been there myself a few times.

    I respect and admire your courage + clarity. And how you’ve made room for a new dream to take shape.

    That rocks. And I’m excited to see how this all unfolds. Go you!
    Fabeku Fatunmise’s last blog post ..Facets

    • Thanks Fabeku! And cheers for picking up on the wider message here about dreams — something I might blog about at more length. (The “just follow your dreams!” advice doesn’t always work…)

    • Thanks Marlee! And yeah, I think that gut feeling is really important — whenever I go against it, I end up regretting it…

    • Cheers Joely! 🙂 (And thanks too for blazing a trail with Amnar; you were one of the first bloggers I got to know on Twitter and whatnot, and it’s been great to watch how things have been going for you…)

    • Cheers Tom! I wish I was as certain as you 😉

      My current feeling is that self-publishing is great for writers who’re reasonably net-savvy and who have a bit of an entrepreneurial drive. I know plenty of writers — especially my parents’ generation — who just want to write (and who hate the idea of marketing) — so I suspect it’s still a long way off being the mainstream choice.

      • Was at Mum and Dads and they are still having trouble with mobiles. And the battery died on mine just after I read you had given up. It was just like those old radio (you youngsters do know what a radio is?) thrillers our hero is not going to make it. Fortunately I only had to wait 2hrs to breathe a sigh of relief. ; )

  10. This sounds like A Good Thing. And like healthy evolution.

    Plans, schmans anyway. I managed to skip out the agent bit and ended up with two book deals with two different publishers (one for a novel, one for a short story anthology) and I really didn’t plan it that way! These are interesting times, and there are more roads to that lovely land of having a book out there than there’s ever been before. Who knows what will happen? What is clear though is that you are in a very strong position where you are now to achieve your goal. Go get ’em!

    • Thanks Emma! And yay for you on the book deals 😀

      I agree that there are so many different paths now (I’ve seen a fair few blog-to-book deals happen in recent years) and there’s no One True Way. Well, there never was, but now it’s a bit easier to find alternative routes…

    • 🙂 Thanks Deborah! I’m definitely hoping that this’ll be useful for other writers (heck, even if I manage to screw up totally, at least it’ll be an example of what not to do… ;-))

  11. ALI, you totally scared me with the title of this post! I agree with the other commenters that your dream has just evolved into one that’s closer to your own heart. PHEW.

    For me it’s always been pretty simple – I write for teenagers, they don’t have credit or debit cards, therefore I need my books to be in shops. But this makes a lot of sense for you, the career you already have, and your book. Besides, you don’t need an agent or a publishing house to have a book launch, which we all know is the important bit! 😉
    Julianne’s last blog post ..Book Review- We Had It So Good- by Linda Grant

    • I feel all guilty about the title now! I wanted to shake up people’s usual thoughts about dreams, but I didn’t intend to *scare* anyone…

      Good point about the teenage market (though I wonder if that’s going to shift over time, too; I suspect teens are going to want some way to buy online).

      And I’m sure I’ll manage some sort of Lycopolis launch party. 😀

      • Hi. Judging by workmates, their childrens pocket money was used for i-tunes or for PSPgames , now they are doing a paper-round and the money is used for a phone and different apps.
        When Kindle etc drop in price or become the fashion must have, then teenagers will buy e-books.
        You nearly lost your Kindle to those sweet bridesmaids of yours at Christmas they are the teens of a few years time.

        • Very true! I think the main issue at the moment is that teens don’t generally have a way to shop online (since you normally need a debit/credit card). But I suspect that as prices drop, more and more kids will be able to buy online — I’ve seen companies sell to teens by taking the money through text messages, for instance.

    • Thanks Sarah! I’ve had great feedback from my long-suffering critique group, and I think it’s nearly time to stop polishing it and let it go…

  12. Hello Ali! El Edwards sent me over here via Twitter. I settled in to read your post, preparing myself to mourn. “Aw no,” thought I. “A tale of a writer who’s quitting writing. This is just going to make me sad — and frustrated that I can’t help.”

    And sha-ZAM, you blew that mournful feeling right out of the water!

    I don’t know you at all, but I am so excited for you! And I can relate so very well to your story. I had the same dream. I did the same hobnobbing at conferences. I queried and submitted and got rejected and blah blah blah, gatekeepers suck.

    So about a year ago, I started on a new journey, too. Long story short, some friends and acquaintances and I have founded our own indie publishing company.

    And my first book is coming out in a little over two weeks.

    Um. Yeah. Dream < EvolvedDream = REAL.

    I'm subscribing to your blog, and I'm looking forward to reading about your new journey!

    Here's to indies!!!
    Courtney Cantrell’s last blog post ..5 What-To-Dos When Your Novel Is Too Long

  13. Amazing journey, Ali. I loved the humility through your story. It takes guts to stop and reassess, especially when you’ve already worked so hard. Sometimes, a dream can get so ingrained that we forget why we’re working towards it. And, as you say, when we finally realize why, it almost hits us like a slap in the face. =P

    Glad to hear that you’ve found your very own wave and looking forward to hearing more of your Aliventure. =)
    Samantha Bangayan’s last blog post ..The Sea of Nonconformity- A Poet and Capoeirista in Huancayo

    • Thanks Samantha! And you’re right — it’s tough to give up (or even evolve…) a long-held dream. But, for me, the dream just didn’t match up to who I was, or what the publishing world was like, any more.

      Will definitely be updating the blog as the next few weeks go by… 🙂

  14. This is awesome!

    It’s also something that I’ve been suggesting to friends of mine who have that same old dream of yours.

    Can’t wait to see you work your plan. I know I’ll be pointing a friend or two over this way to watch, too.

    Kier’s last blog post ..Something to Think About

    • Thanks Kier! And I hope that my journey is helpful to your friends … I’ve been really inspired by seeing the success of other writers doing this crazy indie thing. 🙂

  15. Welcome to the indie club Ali!
    You’re going to love the daily sales reports on Amazon, the monthly cheques, the instant feedback, control of everything, having your book available globally… and you still get to write well, use pro editors, cover designers and formatters. You are already a small business, so you will totally rock at indie publishing.
    Your (old) dream was mine too once and I don’t regret going indie at all. It changes your life, seriously. Plus, you never know, when your sales rock and an agent discovers you through your success, you’ll then have to make a decision (as Amanda Hocking has) whether you want to go back to traditional or stay indie.
    I’ll be supporting you all the way!
    Joanna Penn’s last blog post ..Writer’s Block Take Note

    • Yeah, it’s been really interesting to read about Amanda Hocking’s experiences (and she’s such an honest and down-to-earth person, too; a great example to writers, I think!)

      I have to admit, being able to see my own stats day by day and control everything is a big part of why I want to do it. Plus, I don’t feel like a piece of writing is “finished” until it’s out there for readers — and I’d really like to move on from this novel some time soon…

  16. Very interesting. I’ve self published a few ebooks myself, and currently have a novel out to some agents with a view to pursuing the traditional route. My motivation was more with ‘thats the way its done if you want to do it properly’, more a statement of authenticity than anything else I guess.

    I may end up going the ebook/self publish route regardless, but at least I’ll be able to say ‘I tried’ 🙂

    Good luck.

    • Cheers Drew! And good luck with the traditional route; I think there’s still a LOT to be said for it, and plenty of advantages. Hope you get an agent and an awesome deal! 😀

  17. You’ve hit on the key to your problem when you write:

    “I wanted to impress people. I wanted to be able to say
    “I have an agent!” and have everyone be happy for me –
    and maybe even a bit envious of me.”

    Such sponsoring thoughts can never lead to success.
    Even highly ego-centric people whom we might envy
    or at least admire never made it by wanting anything.
    They simply loved themselves and assumed that the
    world loved them too.

    The reasons to write a:

    a) because you have something to say


    b) because you really, really, can’t stop
    yourself regardless of failure or success.

    I gather that, in non-fiction anyway, most
    works start as self-published works and then
    get picked up by publishers once they are
    identified as being sellable.

    I agree with the commenter who advised
    having the best possible trailer made, or
    I suggest none at all. After all after all your
    work your novel deserves your best shot.

    Good luck with it.

    Stephen Bray’s last blog post ..What Makes A Photography Business Successful- Part 2

    • Thanks Stephen!

      Two great reasons to write, ta! And I agree with them. I’d be miserable if I didn’t write. And while I’m often a bit anxious that I don’t have something worth saying, I usually get great responses from readers.

      If I do go ahead with the trailer (and I really want to give it a try!) then I want to do it well…

  18. Hi Ali,
    All of us have dreams, but these dreams are not cast in stone. It will change and evolve (and sometimes disappear), because people change, circumstances change.

    I’m sooo happy you decided to go towards the indie route. But then, you’ve always been an indie publisher (what is this blog after all but anh indie online publication), so yeah, I’ll just say that I’m happy you’re treading the indie fiction route! 😉

    • Thanks Prime! And yeah, fair point, I’ve published plenty of blog posts (and a few ebooks) so it’s not exactly a leap into the great unknown… 🙂

  19. Ali, I’m sure that was a difficult realization, but it comes off as very well thought out. I love the idea of self-publishing your novel. More power to you, and God’s speed.
    Todd’s last blog post ..New Forum is Open!

    • Cheers Todd! A lot of thought has indeed gone into it… and maybe that’s something I’ll post about at greater length.

  20. Congratulations on your new direction Ali, it takes guts to put a dream to rest and pursue another one… I am still wrestling with that transition on a lot of projects. I look forward to reading about your new adventure.

  21. Ali,

    In the end, it was your decision. I think your message hit home for a lot of wannabe writers.

    Self-publishing is the route to take for a lot of people who find the conventional road a bit odd. These days, there is cut-throat competition to find an agent and a publisher. It is not easy for a first-timer to land a book deal.

    Your journey is an important one and more power to you. It seems you have been engaged with the process of writing for such a long time. That will only add to your portfolio of work and enhance your credibility in the market.I feel in my heart of hearts that this is but a stepping stone to a better and brighter future for you. It also seems like you are looking at this as a project and with a long-term perspective. You are young and sky is the limit for you.

    I also respect the fact that you had the courage to change your mind. One needs to be assertive like this in order to make progress. We cannot afford to be the flower that wilts and withers away in the face of a storm. Cheers.

    • Cheers, Archan!

      I think it may be a stepping stone to something else — quite possibly to traditional publication once I’ve shown that there’s a market for my work. And yeah, I’ve got a fair few years head of me yet.

      I found it tough to change my mind, and to give up one dream (even though it was for a better one); I wanted to write about it to encourage anyone else who might be going through something similar — with writing, or with any big project.

  22. I sincerely admire your courage Ali to be so vulnerable for sharing this post about your dream deferred.

    There’s no question you can do whatever you set your mind to do. Self-publishing your novel is a wonderful fit for you and please know I’ll be right here supporting you every step of the way!



    • Thanks Alex, and I hugely appreciate your support and encouragement (not just on this, but in general!) 🙂

  23. Ali your thoughts are evolving like your dream. I am not writer by profession but all we have common is dream to do something. In the post you said about dream

    I wanted to impress people. I wanted to be able to say “I have an agent!” and have everyone be happy for me – and maybe even a bit envious of me.

    Is this the real reason? I don’t think so. We follow our heart and it was heart made you to do so. You got passion about it and you try following it. We don’t put any mean purpose behind our dreams. Now you are already above that dream hence you are setting new dream.
    This is time for evolution Ali and you are going ahead with it. Best of luck Ali.
    Keep writing such stuff Ali, I am big fan of your Blog.


    • Thanks Vishal! And I like your more charitable take on the reasons behind my dreams. I don’t think that was the ONLY reason I wanted it, but I do think there’s definitely truth in it (and it was hard for me to come to realise that, let alone write about it…)

  24. Dearest Ali, I *LOVE* your new dream. I think it is an ideal fit for your life and for the new digital media age in which we live. I am thrilled to hear that you are giving up on the old school publishing style but NOT ON YOUR NOVEL. Thank you for writing such a brave post. I wish you all the luck and send you many good wishes but your plan is solid and you shan’t need it. 🙂
    Farnoosh’s last blog post ..How to Capture the Ideas Worth Pursuing

    • Thanks Farnoosh! And I appreciate the good wishes! I’m doing a fair bit of thinking and planning, but luck and serendipity always play a role in these things… 🙂

  25. i was shocked when i read the Title Ali but now that i continued the post to the end , its completely ok to change the direction as long as you will keep perusing important goals that are related to what you have been doing

    • Cheers Farouk — and sorry to shock you! And yes, maybe this is about reaching the same goal as before but by a different path…

    • Cheers Marcus! I feel like I’ve got a bit of a way to go yet, but I definitely feel like I’m more focused on what *I* want to do now.

  26. Phew, that’s a load off.. . I’m new to your blog Ali and have come to enjoy your posts. I have to say I was less than happy when I saw the title of this one. Sooooooooooo glad it wasn’t what I thought. And congrats by the way on totally ‘getting’ the bigger picture, sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for those realllllllllllllllllllly big trees. Good luck with your ‘next’. . . I look forward to hearing allllll about it as it unfolds.

    • Thank you! I’ll be blogging plenty about it (and trying to help everyone else avoid the mistakes that I’ll inevitably make along the way… ;-))

  27. Glad to know you’re not really giving up on your dream – only making it bigger and doing it the way you want to! I know it will be a big success and I wish you all the best Ali. I can’t wait to read Lycopolis, I like a good scare at bedtime!

    Eoin Meegan’s last blog post ..Apr 3- consciousness

  28. Thank you! 🙂 I’m hoping to have Lycopolis ready for the world within the next two-three months (I’d rather take my time and get everything right than rush it). Not sure I recommend it for late-night reading though… 😉

  29. Congratulations on taking the first step towards your new dream. I’ve had aspirations of being a published author since I was young and still do. Though with the internet, it’s becoming easier to do things on your own and actually succeed at it. I’d be interested to take a read when it’s all finished 🙂

    • Thanks Nick! Good luck with your own aspirations — I’m sure you’ll get there. 🙂 And no doubt I’ll be bugging you (and everyone else…) to read Lycopolis once it’s out. 😉

  30. I’m happy for you Ali. You may be giving up on one of your goals (getting an agent and getting published the traditional way) but you’re definitely not giving up your passion for writing. I’ve been toying with the idea of self-publishing and the future of books and eventually get serious about it. There are those who are sympathetic to traditional publishing and would think less of authors who self-publish. And there are those who self-publish books without taking time to hone their writing skills. In the end it all boils down to you, the author. Give us a good story, give us carefully crafted sentences. The choice of media becomes irrelevant.

    Good luck!
    Gab Lennon’s last blog post ..Exposing The Biggest Lie Ever Told About Blogging

    • Cheers Gab! I think there is still a bit of a stigma about self-published books … on the other hand, I’ve heard about several self-published authors landing huge book deals with traditional publishers, so I think there’s no so much of a barrier between the two worlds as people would sometimes have you think!

    • There’s a “yes” and a “no” to that one. “Yes” in that self-published books still have a bit of a stigma (especially if they *look* obviously self-published). “No” as in … how often do you look at the *publisher* of a book?

      I might post at more length on this, so thanks for asking about it!

    • One of the really odd things about this sentiment is that, in other industries, it’s nowhere near as big a deal.

      In fact, when it comes to sequential art (comic books, graphic novels, etc.), indie pubs have as much if not more street cred than mass market published ones.

      I think the regular book consuming crowd is just behind the curve on this one… but will be catching up soon now that the barriers to publishing and distribution have been knocked for a loop. First by the POD industry and now by the fully electronic distribution chain.
      Kier’s last blog post ..Video- Head Over Heels

      • This is a really interesting point, Kier; I think there’s at least a couple of factors at play:

        (1) Novels have been established as a genre for a lot longer than graphic novels

        (2) There’s a bit more of a barrier to entry in graphic work (so indie work is likely to be higher quality) as people who can’t draw tend to know it, whereas people who can’t write don’t always realise that 😉

        • Ah, but that’s just the thing… not all works of sequential art involve drawing.

          A friend of mine has been doing a whole lot of work and research in that arena for the last few years (as he’s self published more than a few things, both “comics” and plain text), and most of what he’s done hasn’t involved drawing at all. Photography, collages, set type, computer generated imagery… he’s used it all (mostly because he doesn’t draw all that well). He’s also pulled in people more talented than himself to produce the visuals for some of his stories while he’s focused on scripting them.

          And, looking around the various tables at the local small press expo every year (where a lot of indie publishers hawk their wares), there are just as many people who can’t draw as there are those who can.

          As a form of expression, sequential art has been around at least as long as–if not longer than–the written word. As an industry, book publishing is, indeed, more entrenched in tradition and steeped with “prestige” (be it actual or imagined) than comics ever have been. The barriers to entry for mainstream publication of either, though, are just as high.

          Mostly, it’s just the consumers that see it differently. More comic readers seem more apt to turn their noses up at something from Marvel or DC than an indie produced graphic novel. More text fiction readers seem more apt to dismiss anything that’s not from a major publisher.

          At least for now. 😉

          (Oh, and if you’re so inclined, you can check out my friend’s work and commentary on sequential art at http://oletheros.com/)
          Kier’s last blog post ..Video- Head Over Heels

          • Interesting one! And thanks for correcting me re. drawing … good point that it’s not all about drawing now.

            I agree with you in thinking it is to do with consumers … at the risk of horribly over-generalising, I’d guess that comic book readers tend to be younger and a little less “mainstream” than novel readers. It’ll be interesting to see whether we have a shift in the fiction market, with more of an indie movement growing.

  31. Right now it’s the publisher’s symbol that’s a mark of quality for people. What I’d like to see on self-published books are credits showing who proof-read and who copy-edited etc. Anything to give potential readers some clue that it isn’t just a one man band that’s likely to be rife with clunky prose, broken narrative strands and typographical errors.
    Sam’s last blog post ..Books I’ve Really Enjoyed

    • Interesting point — I certainly plan on acknowledging my editor (and a small army of heroic workshoppers) in the book itself, but I wonder if we’ll see more and more authors doing that in the description bit on Amazon, or in some other way…

  32. Oh wow I just got to this post and soooo want to give you two thumbs up and a high five!! You’re so right: you have full control of the success of your book, and knowing you personally I KNOW that you’re going to knock it out of the ballpark.

    Major kudos to you for realizing that the dream you were after was not the important dream you thought you were after. I often feel the same way and need to look at my goals through a new lens to make sure I’m doing things because I want to, it makes me happy, and it’s coming from a place of love and creation. (Not from my ego, or my need to please others, etc.)

    Big happy smiles for you Ali! 🙂
    Nathalie Lussier’s last blog post ..What are domains &amp web servers- and why you need both

    • Awww, thanks Nathalie! 🙂 I find it a bit scary to be in full control of things — but also very inspiring and empowering. 🙂

      It was really tough to admit to myself that the reasons I wanted the “traditional” publication was more to do with impressing people (or at least not risking criticism!) than about what *I* really wanted. But I feel a lot better now I’ve made the decision. 🙂

  33. Ali, I see you caused a little war over your title—actually a smart thing. Controversy sells. Perhaps next time you could use a subtitle for explanation—Why I am giving up on my dream—I found a better one or I’m rewriting it. Just a suggestion

    I kept running into your blog so I decided that I needed to use resources. Thanks for your newsletter. I also like the design of this site. Do you have an article that talks about what sources you use to run your blog? Thanks again for the information.


    • Thanks Michael! Yeah, I think a subtitle might have helped. I’m trying to get better at writing titles, but I may have gone a bit too far in the “attention-grabbing” direction with this one…

      By sources, do you mean the software I use?

      I use Thesis, a paid theme for WordPress, for the blog. The design is by Charlie of Charfish Design. The site is hosted by Dreamhost. You can find reviews of Thesis, Dreamhost, and a bunch of other things I use on my reviews page http://www.aliventures.com/reviews

      Hope that helps! 🙂

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