This Week in Self-Publishing: On Release

Money earned (total): $7,012.34

Money spent (total): $1,612.12

Money earned (this week): $0

Money spent (this week): $67.12, to print all of those pages you see in the photo

I wrote a thing on Twitter over the weekend, and I’m just going to share it with you here:

It’s both exciting and a little uncomfortable to think that I have committed myself for at least another year, probably another year and a half, on this project. I started writing The Biographies of Ordinary People, Vols. 1 and 2 in July 2015—technically I started writing it after spending ten years trying to write it, so I had been thinking about it for a while at that point—so by the time both volumes will be out in the world I’ll have devoted three years of my life to making them the best work possible.

Which is a ridiculously small amount of time compared to the trad publishing cycle, I should just say that right now. Going from zero words on paper to two books in print in three years? That’s the advantage of self-publishing.

And I’m excited to get to spend more time with these characters. I’m very excited to get to revise Volume 2, because there’s a lot I want to explore more thoroughly and some stuff I want to reshape or cut.

But it’s also scary. Any time anyone says “I’m going to value my own creative work, and commit to it, and make sure I block off time for it, and give the best parts of myself to it,” it’s scary.

Because maybe it won’t be any good, at the end.

Or maybe it will be good but people still won’t like it.

Or maybe they’ll say you shouldn’t have written it, and make a whole bunch of assumptions about you.

Or maybe a lot of people will like it, and make a whole bunch of different assumptions about you.

(It’s probably too late for me to do the Elena Ferrante thing, right?)


The cognitive dissonance I’m struggling with is the idea that I value this story so much that I am willing to both give it an incredible amount of discipline/effort/control and then release it into a place where it is completely out of my control.

And, because Biographies is not a true story but does draw from my experiences—“semi-autobiographical” fiction being extraordinarily popular these days, it seems—letting my novel out of my control means giving readers the possibility of making (false) connections between my characters and the people they assume they’re based on.

You know the four Alcott sisters never lived together in Orchard House, right? Lizzie was dead by the time the family moved. Little Women should not be taken as a true story, or even a close representation of Louisa May Alcott’s life, and yet it is.

In my case, people will start by assuming I had two sisters. They’ll ask me what my mother thinks of the story—because that’s the question women writers often get asked, especially when they write about families—and then they’ll ask what my sisters think, and I’ll say “why do you think I have two sisters?”

And maybe, in this conversation I keep having in my mind, they’ll say “because you’re Meredith.”

And I’ll say “No, I’m not. But I understand her.”


I got my Kirkus Reviews review this week. Of the three professional reviews, it is the most critical—while also being complimentary, which I think is really interesting:

At times, this overlong, meandering book can be frustrating: where are the dramatic confrontations, and why is everyone so polite? But Dieker excels at depicting how real people think and act. When she writes from a child’s perspective, she successfully portrays the state of knowing but not quite understanding. She’s also astute about communities: “She had already begun to realize that living in a small town meant being known for things.”

I will say that one of the reasons I decided to self-publish Biographies was to be able to experiment in exactly this way: to write a long, meandering book with no dramatic confrontations.

Because, hey, Foreword Clarion Reviews loved it. Kirkus Reviews didn’t as much, but they praised the writing if not the structure, and that’s fine with me.


What happens to this book is out of my control. People might tell me it was too long, and everyone was too polite. People might tell me how much it resonated with them, and how they couldn’t put it down. People might tell me they were hurt by it, which was not my intent—I wrote this story out of love, for the characters and for the reader—but I have to pay attention to that. Some people will just assume I have two sisters and I won’t be able to stop them.

To release something, you have to release.

I’ve made my final edits. It is almost time for the book to be yours, and for me to start working on the next volume. ❤

 

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