I too recently self published even though I had an offer to publish PINK CARNIVAL I wanted to have creative control and fulfill a longer term vision for Meaningful Books in addition to the work I get published with Macmillan ( I have several children's books, readers and stories published by them). I do strongly believe however that until Caribbean publishers are set up to publish writers OTHER than themselves or their friends and family members, we are not yet publishers or really publishing on our own terms.
Until book sellers are NOT linked to government contracted text book publishers....Writers published and unpublished would do well to volunteer time to read to kids at schools, hospitals, orphanages, libraries - we need to cultivate a market that reads, loves books and is willing to take part of their income to make the purchase. Our local (T&T) reading of Caribbean books for pleasure market is smaller than even some small islands in the Caribbean. Even well established regional publishers like Macmillan make their profits from educational text books and ministry contracts. That's our W.I. reality for now.
Our envy of the global market must include an awareness that it is made up of individual consumers who click on BUY NOW as a matter of a reading lifestyle. Writers of brilliance around the world have the same struggles as "Caribbean" writers. Struggle and failure are not bad experiences, there is always something helpful to learn. "NO" may mean ill timing, lack of consideration for the target audience, you dissed typical industry protocol because of lack of research when submitting (but didn't even know it), or this time there was just someone or some product better / more suited to that publisher than you/ yours - so tough luck and back to the drawing board. Masters in many fields are subject to rejection in a competitive market. Why are/ should we be different? Why the urge to confine the small pond, when the world awaits?
So many WI writers I meet who want to get published have good self esteem to lament the ways they believe their work is being mistreated. When I ask about specific research, query letters etc it turns out they have barely begun in relation to their counter parts in a small town in anywhere USA. If we are so talented then let's not mamby pamby ourselves out of the actual work required of good writers which, more than ever in today's tech-savvy world includes learning the industry.
In my belief and experience when we are doing the work that is ours to do and not attaching the ego to outcomes (because at a certain level in any marketplace it becomes subjective) then intuition guides us to the next step necessary for our creative evolution and fulfillment. This I see as a given, like gravity. The super stars like Rowling are the moments when gravity has been defied and something rare happens. Most of us will be plodding through step by step groping for the 'next' button and that too is a blessing. I'm not sure that success of the T&T writer (keeping in mind our market size) can or should be institutionalized, for want of a better word.
Those who sincerely feel they can establish better /new systems should be encouraged to follow the path along which they are called, of course. JJ