Under the Fence: Deciding to Indie Publish

Metaphors pop up in waking life with as much meaning and impact as dream images, if we choose to notice them. In July, when I was putting the finishing touches on my book and getting ready to order my first print run, my emotions ran the gamut from excited anticipation to depression. I had made the decision to publish the book myself because I wanted to have it debut at the Waking the Dreamer Within Festival in August. Years of personal and vicarious experience with established publishing houses told me that the gears wouldn’t grind quickly enough that way to get the book into readers’ hands. Yet there was a part of me that felt that self-publishing was, in a way, admitting defeat (even though I’d never even sent out a query on this book). I’d spent so many years sending queries, samples, and full manuscripts and so many years getting encouraging rejection letters that deciding that wasn’t going to be my route was a big shift.

One day I was outside with my cats. My husband had replaced the fence around our vegetable garden, and since the main goal of the fence is to keep out deer, he raised the fence so there’s a gap between the bottom of the wire and the ground. This allows the cats to go in and out without needing a human to open the gate. On this particular day, one cat had already gone into the garden while the other sat at the closed gate, looking in. I thought, “Why are you sitting at the gate when you could go in under the fence?” Almost as soon as the question occurred to me, I saw how the metaphor applied to getting my book into the world, and as soon as I realized that the universe had somehow conspired to show me that metaphor, the cat got up and went in under the fence.

The Newcomer’s Guide to the Invisible Realm has been out almost a month now. I’ve received several personal notes from readers that make it clear I’ve achieved my goal of writing an accessible introduction to dreams and metaphor, and even the reader who I expected to scoff said he thought the book was “very well done.” By several measures, the debut has been a success. At the very least, it taught me to see the gate I’ve been waiting at as an illusion. There’s plenty of room to get in under the fence.

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