Self-Doubt and Self-Publishing

iBooks AuthorWith the high speed pace of current information exchange, the poetry publishing process can feel incongruous. Innovative and low-cost tools for self-publishing  print and ebooks (like Lulu, iBooks Author, and CreateSpace)  are increasingly appealing, but there’s a fear of missing out with the right publisher in a traditional courtship.

Beyond the benefit of faster gratification, self-publishing conserves time and money. The time saved seeking a publisher can be used creatively in producing new work or branching out artistically into (e)book design instead of devoted to the cycle of search and submit, with an optional step to re-edit after rejection, for better or worse (possibly worse if the poet has an ear for self-doubt, and most may have two).

Inherently, the self-published author is the sole proprietor with a chance to become the sole recipient of praise and, dare a poet dream, of sales. There’s added responsibility to promote, but authors increase sales through self promotion on social media regardless of publisher, and wider distribution can be accomplished by paying small fees for assistance to Amazon or iTunes with a Paid Book Account (unlike its Free Book Account).

The process is streamlined and accessible, but doubt clearly emerges and suggests shame. Maybe it’s not published because it shouldn’t be. Overcoming this fear, like all others, could be liberating. First, examine the extremes. At worst, yes, the work could be unreadable, everyone will know, and the poet may, albeit ingeniously, become more reclusive. At best, it could be brilliant and shared widely, become a success story verifiable by analytics (or PayPal revenue), receive press coverage with embedded links to the author’s (possibly ad monetized) site, even be picked up by a large press later (like Ariana Reines’ Coeur de Lion, Fence 2011). Somewhere in the more realistic middle, a small number of readers (poets and non-poets) may read, like, and discuss the work. Any feedback, even negative, could be taken positively. Rejections are generally not personalized, so feedback is rare and valuable in its potential to spark growth and fervor. Only the self could stand in the way of publishing book number two.

–Stephanie Ann Whited