In April I attended the IBPA PubU in Portland. More about that event here. Included in our free tote bag with the regular goodies of pens, notepads, etc., was the book, Green-Light Your Book by Brooke Warner of She Writes Press.
I read the book pretty quickly, but unfortunately didn’t write the review right away. As I look through it now, checking my underlines and attempting to write this review, I realize I could write several pages, much too long for a blog post. I’ll do my best to condense.
First, I really enjoyed Green-Light. Although it seemed meant for the person who has just finished their first manuscript and is still “waiting to be published,” as someone who’s already published several novels, I still found Green-Light to be thought-provoking, inspiring, and contain some useful info (for example, the section on the advantage of forming an LLC).
Anyone who has been involved in or followed the publishing movement for the past ten years knows the landscape has changed drastically. “Self-publishing” is not what it used to be and neither is traditional publishing.
I heartily agree with Warner’s assertion that discrimination toward self-publishing exists in review outlets, contests, and associations. I would personally add some (not all) bookstores and school organizations. For example, the Oregon Battle of the Books handbook lists as criteria for book selection: books must be “published by a recognized, mainstream publisher (no self-published titles will be considered).” Very disheartening considering many students and teachers have told me Treasure would be great for OBOB.
We must, Warner says, write letters to these discriminatory organizations to change the rules. What matters is not who pays to have the work published, but the work itself. Amen to that.
At the same time, I find it odd that Warner advocates “playing by the rules” in other instances, such as making your paperback books “returnable.” Even after discussing how devastating returned books are for a small publisher and that the practice is a holdover from the Great Depression, she recommends not marking your book as nonreturnable, calling it the “kiss of death,” because no bookstore will touch it and “you’ll look like you don’t know what you’re doing.” I think we need to go with advice from earlier in the book and set about changing the rules on this practice.
All in all, I enjoyed this book and hopefully I’ll go back and try some of the things that were new to me. However, I must note that it is written from the perspective of traditional- publisher-turned-Indie. Plenty of totally Indie author/publishers make good money without playing by the rules.
That being said, this is a great book for those aspiring authors huddled over their manuscripts, carefully querying agents day after day, week after week, year after year. If you truly believe in your work, say to yourself, as Warner says on page 41, I deserve to be published. My work is worthy. Then go out there and do it.
You might want to pick up a copy of Green-Light Your Book while you’re at it.