Around this time last year, I was busy making resolutions for the new year–2019, the year we’re now bringing to a close–and in some cases I have actually managed to make good on those resolutions. 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 craft a little manifesto for us all.
In 2020 …
We hereby claim the mountain of content and the island of method for us, the (few, the mighty) self-publishing authors of the world. We assert our right to write what we please in whatever manner we please and within whatever time frame we deem fit. We 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.
We 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. We 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 we 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.
We 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.
We 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. We 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.
We hereby claim ownership of our own decisions. We do not ask for permission from others to write what we write or publish what we publish; We write and publish what brings joy to us and to our readers. We do not ask for compliments or pats on the back or for any recognition which undervalues our skills and the intelligence of our readers. We declare our obligation to respect, value, and represent the interests of others, and to balance this obligation with our own needs as authors and human beings. We recognize the privileges of our position as people of influence, people with the vocabulary to reflect and shape the world around us, and seek to put that privilege to good use for good ends.
We are not shy about recognizing our strengths, and we are not afraid of our weaknesses. We hereby claim the valley of well-earned pride and the city of well-learned failures as our province. We are proud to work with self-publishing authors, and proud to be a part of a wider community of independent creators as well as the readers who open their hearts and minds to the books we place in their hands.
You are not alone. ♣︎
Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!