I’ve always considered myself to be a feminist. It’s a personal term – whether you like it or not, these days feminism means different things to different people, and it annoys me greatly when the term is hijacked by those who insist that only their definition is ‘right’. So, I’m a feminist who is happily and lovingly married; who is a mother who has chosen to not work outside the home while my daughter is growing up; who rarely cooks if she can help it but who does do all of the washing and ironing and most of the housework. I’m a feminist who can change plugs, put up shelves, and tile bathrooms, but who hates to put out the rubbish and will gladly defer all grime-related jobs to my husband. In our household we avoid definitive gender roles, toys, words, clothing, TV programmes, and all other obvious stereotypes.
From this perspective, I approached my self-publishing career with my feminism very much in mind. Living off my husband’s salary, wanting – needing – to spend my time at home caring for my child, the ability to publish my work and begin to earn my own money from writing was a very big deal indeed. Self-publishing speaks to the part of me that doesn’t want to ask permission from anyone; it should speak to the core of all women writers who do not need a gate-keeper to let them into the club. (I’m framing traditional publishing as a patriarchal influence here, but only in an abstract sense, of course. Although, historically, this has often been the case.) Self-publishing offers a clear route to market, a way to bring your work – work which often speaks of women’s lives and joys and emotions and fears – to readers directly. It is freedom, the lack of restraints, the beating down of a great impenetrable door.
For me, it has been a fantastic success. In under three years I’ve reached over 200,000 readers. I’ve earned more than I would have in any part-time job I was qualified to do. I’ve done this from my own home, under my own steam, making my own choices. I’ve written about single mothers and women fighting for justice, about the older generation of women who refuse to be shut up and pinned down; about women trying to find love but only wanting it on their terms. Never mind self-publishing being a feminist issue – for me writing itself is all about my personal beliefs, hopes and concerns. My daughter has seen me carve out a career for myself, working around my commitments cheerfully and successfully. She is only six-years-old, but already she has a strong understanding of the power of making your own choices in life.
If self-publishing is all about independence, then self-publishing for women is about taking control of your words and your world and using the power of the ebook and the POD paperback to have your voice heard. Whether you are writing crime or chick-lit, sci-fi or mysteries, if you are a woman and you are self-publishing then you are in fantastic company. Happy International Women’s Day, and keep those words flowing!