Please don’t think I’m being defeatist when I say the world at large is never going to take self-published authors as seriously as authors who went through the traditional gatekeepers – at least, not in my lifetime.
To be fair, the world at large doesn’t take any artist very seriously. If it did, we wouldn’t have to work two full-time jobs (one outside the arts, of course) just to keep our heads above the poverty line.
In that sense, it doesn’t really matter what we write. Turn the Kindle store into the eBook equivalent of The Asylum. Who gives a fuck?
Many, many artists struggle with poverty, mental illness, and isolation (due in part to a cultural refusal to treat our work as work), but that is not a requirement.
Many good books are painful, provocative, and unsettling to read, but that is not a requirement.
For most of the US’s history, the only people who had a chance of getting their books published (let alone read by people who weren’t related to them) were rich white dudes. The democratization of publishing is a goddamn technological miracle. Take advantage of it. Write a shitty book.
Write Friends fan fiction, file off the serial numbers, and publish it. Who’s gonna stop you? (Except possibly NBC? File well.)
Write a book about your cat’s adventures in your one bedroom apartment.
Write a book about writing a book about writing a book. (It works for Chuck Tingle.)
Write a book that is fun to read, appeals to young women, becomes a commercial success, and ultimately raises questions about ethics in literary journalism. Then write the godawful sequels to all those shitty books.
Even if you never write a book a stranger deems worthy of a two-star review (which is unlikely; the world is full of people with bad taste), you will have done something many billions of people will only ever dream of doing.
Stop reading this blog. Get offline. Open the terrible manuscript you’ve been ignoring all week because you’ll never be Proust. (Fuck Proust.)