For the past few months I’ve been working on my debut novel. I’ve mentioned it here a few times and people have been asking me if I plan to self publish it or go the traditional route of getting an agent and a publisher.
I have researched both extensively and chosen to…..self publish not because I doubt I’m good enough to get an agent, but because I’m disabled. I know I’m good enough and I don’t mean that in an egotistical way, I just know I’m a good writer. I’m also not naive enough to think everyone will see past my appearance, which is one of many reasons why I’m using a pen name instead of my real name.
Let me explain. Being on SSI I’m not allowed to have more than two thousand dollars in my bank account at any time. If I do I risk immediately losing my income and my insurance.
First let’s assume I can get an agent to take a chance on me as a disabled author. That mountain is hard for any author to climb, add in a disability and it becomes even harder. They don’t know how to sell us to publishers. Especially disabled people like me who refuse to be sold as the inspiration porn story. Now while publishing contracts vary greatly let’s just say I manage to get a five thousand dollar advance with my contract (I’m using the lower end of estimates on purpose), now I’ve lost my SSI, my insurance and my housing because I live in low income housing. So I’m homeless with no insurance and no income but congratulations!! I have a book deal. But wait, there’s more, I have to pay back that advance with my book sales. Which doesn’t happen overnight because nobody knows who I am. So I don’t have any income coming in until I sell enough books that I’ve paid my publisher back that 5k. So I’m homeless, no income, no insurance unless that happens which could be months or years. And I only get credit for what my royalties would be on that pay back so for every $20 book I sell I get credit on my advance for about $2.50. Yeah. It’s gonna take a while for me to pay back that advance.
But if I self publish I have the ability to slowly build myself up to a point where I can support myself. Yeah it’s definitely more work because I have to to do everything myself including design and promoting but I have the freedom to keep everything at my pace and don’t end up on the street for trying to make something of myself.
There is a lot of debate in the publishing world about which is better traditional or self publishing and there are definitely pros and cons to each, but for someone who’s disabled and dependent on disability income there isn’t really a choice.
We’re battling the laws put in place to keep us down. We’re battling the stigmas of disability and we’re battling with our bodies to do what needs to be done to get us where we want to be.
I know this is going to be an uphill battle, but I’m ready for it.