Gina Robinson was the speaker at my RWA chapter meeting this past Saturday.  Her program was about self-publishing, and she had a list of ten points for writers to consider when deciding if self-publishing was the correct path for them.  Before determining whether or not do all the work involved with such a choice, she wanted the listeners to decide just why did we want to self-publish.

Did we want fame or fortune?

Either choice is possible, but the underlying motivation will determine what decisions the writer makes about her self-publishing business.  Make no mistake.  Doing this is a small business—just doing the taxes will prove that.

So which are you seeking?  For a writer who wants fame, Gina pointed out that awards (such as winning romance’s RITA), critical acclaim (reviews by important columnists) and making the lists (New York Times, USA Today, etc.) are very important.  If you’re seeking fortune, profit is important.  The writer’s choices of what to write and how to market her work are based upon what is commercial and will sell.

Despite America being a capitalistic economy, stating you are in favor of profit is mildly horrifying to our society.  Especially among creative types, you can be regarded as somehow tainted.  Do you really want to announce yourself as a money-grubber?

Yet, when Gina asked our meeting if our members preferred fame or fortune, almost no one stood up for fame.  One person did finally say fame, but she also said she announced for it because no one else did, and she wanted to provide a counter to the prevailing attitude.  After the meeting, I thought about the fame or fortune question.  Why did so many chapter members choose the more socially tainted path of profit/money?

I think it comes down to the type of person who believes she can succeed at self-publishing.  An author who chooses fame is seeking validation via words.  Of course, words are important to all writers.  They’re our tools of the trade.  Yet an author desiring fame wants the words of others to affirm that what she writes is worthy of being written.  Of being discussed.  Of being remembered.  That her thoughts and observations are not as ephemeral as snow on an Albuquerque street before the sun crests the Sandia mountains.  She matters.

The author who chooses fortune is seeking proof that she has the right stuff to entertain others, and that proof comes via the payments readers make for her stories.  Her bank account is where her validation comes from.  She is seeking the action of money being paid by readers as affirmation that she gave them some escapist enjoyment from a few hours.

Writers thinking they will succeed at self-publishing, already have developed a business mindset.  And that’s why my chapter mates were so firmly in the fortune column.  As future successful entrepreneurs, they already know money will measure the extent of that accomplishment.

Gina is a very successful self-publishing author.  She chose the path of fortune and generously showed my fellow authors how to follow her by first determining what they want to accomplish in their writing.  Thank you, Gina.

The link below goes to her web site: