I have a clean inbox policy … with limited success.
I keep my cellphone message inbox clean. That’s easy. I keep my Hotmail account inbox clean – except for the back-up files I store there, which is the main reason I have a Hotmail account. I keep the email inbox provided to me by the company I contract for clean, because email there means a client to serve, and I want to make sure my clients are always served.
But my “family” inbox – it’s hard to strip bare. There are always notes from Scouts, or information about ski club, or my parents’ contact details in Florida, that I have to keep just in case I need to refer back to them.
And my writing inbox … there are so many things I just might need one day, and nice emails from readers, and tips and tricks. I try to file them where I’ll find them again, but there are things that seem to defy labeling and filing.
But I do want an emptier inbox. Which means I’m going to have to let go of a few things.
Maybe sharing with you will help, so today I’m getting rid of some of the emails I got when I first notified a few people I was going to self-publish Appaloosa Summer.
These aren’t the “go for it” or “why wouldn’t you?” or “yeah – why not?” emails I got from friends and family. These are the warning / disappointed / somewhat chastising emails I got from certain people in the traditional publishing world.
Here are some of the key phrases from those:
– “… in my mind the self-publishing route is not one that will ultimately benefit you as a writer.”
– “… you don’t need the hassle involved in trying to also be designer, production editor, distributor, publicist, sales force …”
– “… having seen a number of situations where a self-published author was left looking at stacks of books in their garage or basement and wondering what went wrong.”
– “… the credibility of an author who is self-published – no matter whether they accomplish acceptable sales – is in question.”
When I read the above, a little lightbulb went off in my head. I had heard, over and over, from self-published authors that these were the arguments traditional publishers used against self-publishing, but I couldn’t quite believe they were true. I mean, these just don’t seem like very good arguments. I thought there might be stronger ones. But, no, that was it.
In fact, these kind of reassured me. I thought, well, if that’s the worst you can come up with, it’s a gamble I’m willing to take.
There was one, single, comment that did irk me. It got under my skin a bit.
As background, at the time I decided to self-publish APS, it had been nearly two years – twenty or twenty-one months – since my publisher has first read the manuscript. They read APS before offering me the contract for Objects in Mirror. The contract for OIM was for it alone – no second book covered at all.
Then, after OIM was published, the talk turned to APS, but very vaguely. Like “we might include it on this list,” quickly followed by “no promises.” I suggested a couple of strategic possibilities, like if it came out on a certain list, maybe we could time the launch with a suitable event. The answer was, “That probably wouldn’t work.”
At the time I decided to self-pub APS, OIM had been published for six months, and I had no written commitment to publish APS, and only vague “no guarantee” mentions of when it might be published.
So, perhaps you can imagine how I felt when it was suggested my decision to take control and self-publish this book was “unprofessional.”
Really? That’s unprofessional?
And, you know what? I know where this feeling comes from. It comes from an industry that operates on unwritten rules, and unspoken ways of doing things. That takes a long, LONG time to get anything done, and expects everyone to wait. In my opinion, that entire way of doing things is unprofessional. But, if it’s what you’re used to, then me getting on with things might feel like a betrayal.
So I was called unprofessional. And it bugged me. And I longed to go back to that person and ask “What about me not having a contract?” and “What about me being told ‘no promises’ over and over again?” But I didn’t.
Instead I just wished that person had done more research before sending me that email, and had taken the time to think about what being “professional” truly entailed. But they didn’t. And they sent it. And it can’t be unsent.
But it can be deleted.
Which is what I’m doing right now, as I write this post!
Gone! Thanks for helping with that …