(Anyone else saying the title like Brian in The Breakfast Club?)
“Who are you? Who. Are. You?”
I found myself asking this question recently when my agent called me to talk about one of two books I have with her that will go the traditional publishing route. (One is done and ready to be shopped around, and the other is still in progress… I can’t talk about either really…but when I can, you can bet you’ll hear all about them.)
The thing that got me pondering was after my agent asked me a very simple question: “How important is the publisher’s name on the spine of your book to you?” I knew exactly what she meant. We had chatted about this before. While the Big Five bring huge bragging rights, they don’t often pay very well or help market the book when it’s out. It’s basically sink or swim. Smaller publishing houses typically offer more royalties and in some cases, help in marketing. So, basically she wanted to confirm with me; did my ego need to be fed, or my belly?
Um, food please. No seriously. I’m hungry and the cupboards are slim.
We hung up after she’d given me some homework to do and I found myself still thinking about her question. Not if I’d made the right choice, more that she even asked me it to begin with. Why you ask? Because it seems preposterous to me that the Big Five should even be an option I’m ALLOWED to consider. I mean, I haven’t been writing all that long. Only about 6 years…which isn’t that long in the grand scheme of authorship. Sure, I got my Masters in Literary Education, have a few books and anthologies out, but these days, that’s pretty standard in the Indie world, in fact, the number of books I have published pale in comparison by what others in my field manage to do, so why ask me a question about the Big Five when I am barely a blip on the Indie radar. Well, I’m not really a blip, I’m more like the fruit fly on the screen that just won’t stay away.
The fact that I only sell a handful of copies of my books each month has surely got to be proof-positive that I’m not worthy of any sort of traditional book publishing deals. Right? (Oh, inner critic, how you bore your sharpened claws into my flesh at every turn.)
And so, her simple question has got me sitting here asking myself a very deep question (one she had no intention of putting into my head): Who are you? Are you an Indie Author, a Wanna-Be Traditional Author, a Hybrid Author, a (gasp) Vanity Press Author, a When I Have The Time Author, or worse: A Poor Excuse for an Author. The self-doubt I struggle with makes it hard to see straight sometimes.
How about I just leave all those qualifiers off and just say: I’m an Author. Author. Hmmm.
Yeah. I like the sound of that.