From the Archives: “A New Year’s Manifesto”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: December 30th, 2015 ]

Around this time last year, I was busy making resolutions for the new year–2015, the year we’ve just finished–and in some cases I have actually managed to make good on those resolutions (see the list here and here).  This year, however, I’m pushing back a little against the instinctual attraction to “list-fever,” that special kind of holiday mania that leaves us mellow and warm and happy once the list is complete (it always feels good to write up a list, doesn’t it?) but panicked and anxious as the year reaches its end and we haven’t yet accomplished all that we set out to do.  And so it is that this year, instead of compiling all of the things I want to do, I thought I’d sketch out a quick drawing of who I think we are, as self-publishing authors.

This is my self-publishing manifesto:

I hereby claim the mountain of content and the island of method for us, the (few, the mighty) self-publishing authors of the world.  I assert our right to write what we please in whatever manner we please and within whatever time frame we deem fit.  I declare nothing off-limits, nothing too “edgy” or “tame” or “niche” or “unique.”  We are the fearless in life, and we have the right, too, to write and publish as adventurously as we live.

I hereby claim the lake of responsibility and the waterfall of ethical treatment for us.  In the little skirmishes and give-and-take between the traditional and self-publishing worlds, we occupy the high moral ground, ground from which we foresee a future in which authors are treated with the respect that they have earned, simply by virtue of being authors, and in which no one–neither the authors nor the publishers, the editors, the graphic designers, nor any other professional involved in the industry–uses their influence to abuse or undervalue others and the services they offer.  I assert our support for a future in which no-one can claim a monopoly on distribution or quality of product.  I claim the right to creative freedom and creative control–as well as an ethical flow of profits to and from the right people–for us, the self-publishers.  And I also claim the collective right to not tolerate unethical behavior from the corporate publishing sector which routinely reneges on its commitments to writers, readers, and its own employees.

I hereby claim the plains of ambition and the foothills of inspiration for us.  We will write, to the best of our ability, the best books we are capable of writing.  We will create, to the best of our ability, the finest covers and illustrations and altogether visually pleasing objects of which we are capable of creating.  We will learn from our mistakes without damage to our sense of self or our ego; we will seek out expert feedback and emerge with a refreshed sense of purpose and vision for where to go next.

I also claim the right to act out of self-interest, collectively and individually, for us–the authors who have been told we don’t belong or aren’t good enough but most definitely do and are–while also upholding our commitment to generosity, compassion, and social responsibility.  I claim the right to take full advantage of the digital revolution, to look forward to and think with a futurist’s imagination about, a publishing world and a market that looks radically different from the one we work with now.

I hereby claim ownership of my own decisions.  I do not ask for permission from others to write what I write or publish what I publish; I write and publish what brings joy to me and to my readers.  I do not ask for compliments or pats on the back or for any recognition which undervalues my skills and the intelligence of my readers.  I declare my obligation to respect, value, and represent the interests of others, and to balance this obligation with my own needs as an author and human being.  I recognize the privileges of my position as a person of influence, a person with the vocabulary to reflect and shape the world around me, and seek to put that privilege to good use for good ends.

I am not shy about recognizing my strengths, and I am not afraid of my weaknesses.  I hereby claim the valley of well-earned pride and the city of well-learned failures as my province.  I am proud to be a self-published author, and proud to be a part of a wider community of self-publishing authors as well as the readers who open their hearts and minds to the books we place in their hands.

– by Kelly Schuknecht

 

manifesto writing cheerfully

I think this one stands on its own—don’t you? What else can we claim in 2017 that we weren’t able to claim in 2015 or even 2016? The self-publishing industry hasn’t necessarily broken new ground, but it has built steadily upon its previous successes, and reports keep coming in that the market share division between digital and print books has leveled out and begun to run steady. But there’s a lot of tension in the air, politically, socially, and yes, metaphorically—tensions that have the power to shape our decisions. If I were to add any one “claim” to my original list, it would be this:

I hereby claim the fearlessness, both frantic and calm, of the entrepreneur, of the start-up, of the crowdfunded, cloud-built-and-stored, groundbreakers. I opt to place myself in the way of beauty, and in the way of success, by giving it all that I’ve got and taking no prisoners, taking no breaks from being myself and from pursuing my dreams, and yet taking a jackhammer to my bad habits with a sensitivity to my good ones, and to my body, mind, and soul’s needs. I claim the ambition of the space race, the empty-all-pocketbooks audacity of a world utterly bankrupt of fear, and the joy of knowing that whatever mistakes I make, whatever failures I slide into, I rush headlong into them knowing that I gave my absolute best and without fear that it’s the end. I will live with a future-mind, knowing that today’s fears and hardships will not hold me in place forever. I claim the right to unleash myself on this world, as an author and a purveyor of stories.

How’s that for an addition? I think I might just keep up this tradition. I might even codify our existing claims—along with any additions you, dear readers, might throw our way—into a document for year-round use. What do you think?

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

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