This should be a given, and I really should not have to say it. Naturally, people will accuse me of bias here, being a self-published author, but I should have a voice in this as well. Self-publishing is an avenue for people to not write ‘to the meta’, and for diverse authors to get their works out there. Now, I have a distinct advantage, being a white woman, however a lot of the content I depict in my works regarding my own neurodivergent behaviors and sexuality would not be considered ‘meta’.
For example, BDSM is depicted so incorrectly in media that there is extreme stigma around it. Not only that, but the psychology of someone like me, a submissive, is never explored correctly. Nor is the emphasis on consent. I explore this in my works. I also have bi characters (and am branching out) in relationships with those of the opposite sex. I would like to navigate, at some point, the difficulty of accepting my own sexuality, as it took many years and hardships. This isn’t something really explored in ‘meta’, especially if it has to do with a flat out phobia of sex that took years of therapy to get over.
So many important topics can be explored with self-publishing that would not be accepted because they are not ‘meta’, and I am only speaking for myself here as well. I don’t want to speak over others. However, I have seen this sentiment echoed throughout the writing community, and I think it’s important to add my voice.
Although, beyond that, self-publishing is all about control of your own work, which is very important. Whether it’s navigating predatory contracts or someone trying to remove your vision from the work. I love the freedom I have with my story, and while it’s important to get advice from other people through sensitivity, beta readers, and editors, in the end, the author has the control. There’s a lot on our shoulders, and a lot we have to learn.
Here’s the thing. We do it all ourselves. It comes out of our own pockets, be it marketing, editing, or cover design. There are so many skills we need to learn to keep up. I’ve learned graphic design, trailer creation, and navigating keywords myself, for example. There’s communicating with the community as well, and helping other authors in general. I see self-published authors sticking up for each other and helping each other out so much, which is a wonderful thing.
I see self-publishing evolve for the positive more and more as we learn to navigate the hardships of it. The quality of self-published work is on the rise, especially as freelance editors and beta readers are taking on more and more work. I personally read almost exclusively self-published work, because there’s a lot more elbow room when it comes to creativity with it in fantasy.
There are a lot of resources for self-published authors, like connecting to the #writingcommunity on twitter, or finding articles like this to help with marketing. I think it’s also important for authors to share their experiences, something I’ll want to start doing along with giving advice.