In August, I’m going to be giving a presentation at GeekGirlCon in Seattle, titled “From FanFiction to Self-Publishing: Ten Tips for Making the Move.” I’ve been thinking about what I want to say quite a bit. The tip part is easy, although why I picked the random number ten is beyond me. It’s not a very useful number — I wish I’d gone with seven. Or maybe eleven? I know it was just the alliteration that got me, but I hate realizing that I’ve thought in cliches.
Part of what I want to talk about, though, is writing as a hobby. Everything I read about self-publishing is so crazed about the work, the need to be entrepreneurial, the pressure, the business side and how important it is to take seriously, but very few of them ever acknowledge that there’s an implicit goal in all that advice that maybe not everyone has. Or needs to have. Sure, if you wish to be JA Konrath and earn $100,000 in a month, then maybe you need to spend the next ten years working 17-hour days. But you can have fun with self-publishing on a lot less time and a lot less effort. (Admittedly, those attitudes comes from the sites that I’ve found and follow, so possibly there are quieter people who feel exactly as I do.) And the idea that if you like to write, you must want it to be your full-time job is so limiting. I like to cook — that doesn’t mean I want to spend the rest of my days in a restaurant.
Amazon, CreateSpace, and the self-publishing revolution makes it possible for writing to become a hobby like…knitting. Crochet. You don’t have to create “Art;” you can create something fun to share. My goal doesn’t have to be to write a NYTimes best-seller — it can be to share a story with friends. Publishing is now a spectrum activity. Yes, you can use it to work like crazy and try to make lots of money and build a “career,” but you can also use it to play and have fun and experiment and take chances and enjoy a really entertaining hobby.
I made a book this weekend. I did it on Sunday. I sent the order for copies to CreateSpace this morning. I’m going to make five copies and only five copies. I’m not going to sell them, I’m just going to share them. It makes me happy to think about getting them and to think about the people I’m giving them to. And that is a totally valid and wonderful aspect of self-publishing that needs to be given more credit.