|I drew this back before skinny jeans were in.|
Now poor Tosh and Amy look terribly out of fashion.
I've been meaning to post something longer about why, but as usual life tends to get in the way of being online, lately. But here I am! I even went to the effort to upload an old old old scene I drew from the novel! You know, to make the post fancy.
Okay, so years ago I wrote a rather lengthy post about why I was choosing not to self-publish. After I revealed my 15-month struggle on sub, I had a lot of people encouraging me to self-pub. At the time I had lots of good reasons not to, and some of those still scare me but I'm trying to get over it.
Looking back on it, I think I was ultimately looking for validation. And I believed I could get that through a traditional publisher saying my book was good enough to publish.
So there it is: I'm admitting validation was something I desperately craved as an aspiring author. I'm not sure why—maybe because I'd been through so much rejection that I believed the only way to negate that mountain of NO was to get a YES at some point. But more than that, I think I still believed that outside validation would fix all the bad feelings I had inside.
Well, it didn't. Obviously the story goes that I sold a book, two, actually. And now another one, bringing it to three. Yet still, even as my debut approached, I didn't feel legit. I didn't feel like my work was of worth or that I'd been validated the way I hoped. That's when I realized no amount of accomplishment would fill that hole inside. No amount of outside praise would make me feel better about myself. The only person who could fix me inside, change my thought process, was myself.
When, after debuting and achieving the goals I so long held, I was still feeling like a crap writer and that my stories sucked and I'll never sell as much as I'm expected to sell—that's when I realized that I had to do something about my confidence issues. I couldn't continue to tell myself these things, to berate myself and my work.
So this summer I did a lot of soul searching. I tried to identify when these negative patterns in my life began, and I discovered most of them could be traced back to my nervous breakdown over the RELAX, I'M A NINJA submission. Even though that happened in 2010, so long ago, I still hadn't fully healed from it emotionally. I have been better, of course, but not healed. I realized I've been reopening that wound, picking at the scab, you could say, instead of letting it go.
I came to the conclusion that the rejections for that book never really sat well with me. That I never felt like it wasn't "fair" that the book didn't get published. Now that I had more experience with the market, I realized NINJA was indeed a hard fit. It's essentially a male-centered romance, which I thought was totally normal at the time because I watch anime. You see, male-centered/targeted romance IS a genre in anime—you see it in shows like Tenchi Muyo, Ah! My Goddess, My Bride Is A Mermaid, etc. It features a somewhat awkward boy navigating his first romantic experiences while also showcasing more significant action and humor or both. Lots of times a supernatural element is present.
For the most part, this genre does not exist in mainstream American media.
My little anime-loving self had no clue.
This is when the first seeds of self-pubbing NINJA were planted. Because maybe the book wasn't bad—maybe it really was purely a marketing issue. So I got up the courage to open the document after like 4 years in the vault. I started reading it, and when I still smiled at my own jokes I knew this was something I wanted to go back to. I knew it was something I could share without being embarrassed of it.
I knew the only way to share a manuscript that was already rejected by every major publishing house (by several imprints each, even) was to self-publish it.
And that's when I kinda freaked out.
Because as I said years ago, I have a ton of respect for self-pubbers and how hard they work. I knew if I really wanted NINJA out there, I'd have to push through the fear and learn how to self-publish. But I was shocked to find I was ready to do that.
I don't entirely know why. Maybe because I've been through so much editing with three published novels that I feel more confident in my capabilities. And I also know what it takes to get a book to a quality level, when I honestly didn't know that before. Maybe I didn't feel like I could self-pub the right way, and now I feel like I am capable of learning and putting out a quality project. I think part of me also sees this move as a way to "close the door" on the event that entirely wrecked me mentally. Because I really want to put that part of my life firmly behind me, so that I can move forward more confidently.
There are still a lot of things that scare me about self-publishing. I still don't really have the money to do it, but I have hopes to at least make back what I put in. I still feel like a noob about almost everything, but it's also been fun to learn something new, to expand my knowledge in ways that could help me share my less commercial stories.
But there are so many things that also excite me. After having relinquished almost all control for the last several years, I'm looking forward to a project in which I get to do what I want. Not that I want that for all my projects, but it feels like a stimulating creative endeavor for me. I also look forward to being able to share a book that played a huge role in where I am today—RELAX, I'M A NINJA was the book that got my first agent, the book I learned how to truly edit on, the book I believed more than any before would be published.
I still haven't decided how much I want to talk on my blog about my self-pubbing journeys, but if that's something you guys want to hear about please let me know.