Divine Stupidity and the Decision to Self-Publish

Divine Stupidity and the Decision to Self-Publish

written by: Yolanda Navarra Fleming
by: Yolanda Navarra Fleming
Ds 2015 Ds 2015

It's a terrible thing to spend years (decades) writing a book only to be on the fence about whether or not you want people to read it. I mean, really, it's a book. What else can you do with it? Even so, there are still some days when I'd rather have it vanish into obscurity. It's VERY personal even with the pen name, the name changes, double-tweaked factoids, and embellishments. That's because I left in the most raw aspects of my desires as well as my pain. So, if you are the type of reader who likes to sit on the protagonist's shoulder close enough to feel the vibrations of her dry heaves, then you'll love Divine Stupidity. Part 2 is also in the works. In fact, it's what I should be doing right now. But first I want to share how I made my decision to self-publish.

It wasn't because I'd gotten 50 rejection slips. I never even got one. I didn't send it to anyone to read most likely because I didn't really want anyone to read it. Kind of like now. But when I started writing Divine Stupidity back in 1996, when it was originally titled "What's Yours is Mine; What's Mine is Mine," I was writing to empty the years of memories from my brain. It was the year I finally cut ties with the Asbury Park Press (after years of lusting after the idea) to pay full-time attention to what had been my side job. Publishing was a distant concept. I would never be a "real" writer until I started writing a book. Writing, that is, not necessarily publishing. I knew if I thought about the idea of publishing too much I'd never finish because I'd worry that it would never be good enough. My "Inner Bitch," who makes many intrusive appearances in the book, still doesn't think it's good enough. Now that it's on Amazon and I've gotten a few positive reactions, Fuck her, I say, and the horse she road in on.

It took too many years to mention before I finally slapped "The End" on page 666 or so and handed it in as my thesis paper to earn my master's degree in Creative Writing with Lacrosse University, an online program that turned out to be a scam, regardless of the fact that my experience had been positive. But that's a blog for another day.

After I received an A for the manuscript and my diploma arrived in the mail (looking completely legit, by the way), Divine Stupidity went back in my filing cabinet to grow mold. When I landed a couple of other publishing deals that went awry I decided traditional publishing was not for me. It wasn't until I met a fellow author who recommended self-publishing with Createspace that I considered publishing again. However, at the time, I was more concerned about another book I'd just finished, Chilangos in the House: The True Story of a Mexican, which I was paid to write by Leo Cervantes, the owner of a local Mexican restaurant, whose story became my focus for five years. Once I accomplished that, Divine Stupidity was on deck.

There are so many reasons to self-publish, but number one for me is maintaining control of the entire creative process from beginning to end, from the inside of the book to the outside. I didn't need anyone to tell me to change the title. I didn't need to lose sleep over the possibility of a publisher cancelling the deal smack in the middle of the project like I'd experienced with Sterling Publishers in 2002. I also didn't need to be told it would never be good enough. One "Inner Bitch" type in my life is quite enough, thanks. Good thing she doesn't make decisions for me anymore.