self-publishing… or not

OK, today I’m concentrating on Self-Published Author’s Lounge. Most of these posts are in the “Why self-publishing is good” section, some from the “post-publication concerns”.  In no particular order:

Reasons to self-publish and one reason not to. Point 1

    Your manuscript will not fit into the industry. My romances don’t fit either the Christian market or the secular market. I did my research for the stories I want to write, and there isn’t a fit. I have Christian themes in my work but I also write sex between the husband and wife. The secular market doesn’t want the Christian themes and the Christian market doesn’t want the sex. If you find yourself at a crossroads similar to this with your work, you may want to either change your manuscript to meet up with what the publishers want or self-publish. The nice thing is you have a choice.

made me thing about June… Point 2 is the one I’d pick up for age reasons and Point 5 scares me to death. If I end up self-publishing, it won’t be for the “one reason not to”, though. I’m already doing it with my comics & graphic novels, I only have to make up my mind about novels.

Lessons I learned as an Indie Author: if nothing happens overnight and it takes a couple of years to get in the loop, same is going the trad-pub way. BUT this way the books will already be out there, gathering readers. I’ve never used vanity presses and I’m already a Lulu author (recommended here and on Writer Unboxed, although if you google “Lulu complaints” there are many results there as well), albeit not very famous for lack of marketing, for which I can only blame myself.

How traditional publishing works 101: is trad-pub really that controlled? I have David Farland’s words of encouragement for me here:

Try traditional for now.  Self-publishing is still too risky, though that might change in the near future.  Even if you self-publish, you still have to have a way to advertise your books, and that’s hard to do.

Right now, there is a big movement toward nontraditional fantasy in the U.S., so the fact that you are writing something different should play in your favor!

Well… if he says so! 😉 Still… I’m wondering.

Self-publishing company scams or the Writers Beware of self-publishing and maybe a pro-editor for my book(s).

My reasons to self-publish. I still think an editor is needed on all books (that’s what I missed most on some self-published books I’ve read) BUT I’m aware it can be expensive and/or hard to find the right one for the author (I’m still looking for one, in fact ;-)).

Working with readers: I’d love to work with readers! BUT how can I reach them with my low marketing skill? I need a manager/editor, that’s the truth!

All I can add is this: I’ll be 45 next week, so I kind of look forward to put my stories out there, but still haven’t figured out the way to do it. I’m considering submitting to publishers who don’t request agented submissions AND e-publishers (I have a small list for those). But I still have to do research on publishers.

I am self-published for comic books and graphic novels, but I still don’t know what is the best way to go for novels…

Any  comments/suggestions? What would you writers do? What would you readers want?


  1. My excursion into indie-publishing has already been documented on your blog, so I won’t go into detail. But I do believe one needs a professional edit, which I didn’t have because I couldn’t afford it at the time.

    But I did a galley-proof read and I had a specialist formatter. I also had a professional graphic designer for the covers and the fantasy map. This all played into my hands because the books looked wonderful and I was able to get front-table positions in bookshops. The bookshops ordered from the publishers. I decided early on that I would never sell them myself. If they liked them enough they would order them and that’s what happened.
    If you go with someone like, distribution to the major online sellers, ISBN etc is all taken care of. It remains for you to market yourself. And THAT is where I learned most in the past two years. You have to overcome all your fears, your lack of confidence and just put yourself out there. Contact magazines, newspapers, get a really topnotch website, keep going on your blog, have blog events, have professionally designed and printed bookmarks, make a booktrailer.
    The whole thing swallows you up, but you learn and you make friends and you sell books. The reality is that what you do to market is what you will be expected to do by mainstream publishers anyway. It’s just that your agent, if you have one, will hold your hand.

    This time around I am trying mainstream and I shall give the new title a year. By then I shall be 60 and if it hasn’t been sold on, then I shall go indie again, maybe even e-book.

    I see no shame in doing your own thing as I know too many authors now who have had what they consider personal success in this independent way.


    • Wow, thank you, Prue. Your story is always inspiring for me. Mostly because we’re closer in age than those “youngsters” out there (I love them, but they probably can’t feel my frustration as the years pass), so I know you know what I’m going through.
      I will put on my September priority list. That’s something I really should start doing (although I’ve joined also David Farland’s writers forums, so that’s probably going to help too)!


  2. As a reader, I would really want something that shakes up my senses, rather than pick up a book that masses approve (aka best sellers). I’m also very curious about upcoming/fresh authors.

    But it is really hard doing this. There are thousands of books out there and your time is limited. I generally go for the most popular, preferring books which received awards.

    But I would love to look at reader recommendations. I haven’t found a community (haven’t searched) like that (facebook, twitter, orkut??).

    Most of my favorite books were picked up when they were lying around in the house or from a library where all the fantasy genre was built based on reader recommendations.

    Lisa has just published a novel. She could add some inputs.


    • Lulu has WeRead where you can post your book reviews. Or you can browse Amazon. Or GoodReads (I’m not on that one yet). Or find readers blogs with book recommendations (there are some in my blogroll)…
      Personally I’ve bought mostly things I’ve found on blogs lately, either author’s blogs or blogger reviews. But I’m still way behind with my fantasy reading! 😉 Now I have a long list on the topic, but I used to browse the fantasy shelves and picking up based on the cover+blurb, or an author I already knew. Thing is – most new authors don’t make it to bookshops. That’s where e-book can save us.
      See Cassandra Jade, who as published a fantasy in e-book form (more on her in September)! ;-)


  3. junebugger

     /  19/08/2010

    Haha the dilemma you were in (sex-secular market, no sex+christian thene-christian market) did indeed sound very similar to the rut I was in. Luckily for me, sex wasn’t really the issue, since I had no sex in it in the first place. But I had to bring the sensuality level down a wholeee notch. But if I had sex in it I think I would have remained in the secular market. But I would have i Had to make the Christian theme more subtle. Surprisingly, I’ve actually come across a few secular romances that had Christian themes. Some of them were blatantly stated, others emerged with more subtlety.

    Anyway, greaaaat post!

    It’s all about marketing, when it comes to self-publishing, I should think. So good luck with that!


    • Thanks and good luck – looking forward to reading your books, as the excerpts on you blog sound great, even if it’s not my genre! 😉 But then, I read whatever I can lay my hands on, especially if it’s a fellow blogger who made it… 😀
      I’m very bad at self-marketing, so we’ll see what I come up with! 😉


  4. What a dilemma — one every writer of today faces (who says choices are always good? :))! Wonderful points of view on the subject, Barb!

    I’m thinking only along the lines of traditional publishing myself, because self-publishing takes up more time and energy than I can afford now…


    • I know exactly what you mean about the time and energy… mine would go mostly towards marketing, and that’s something we’re supposed to do also with trad-pubs… what’s an author to do? 😦


  5. Oh not self-publishing. It frightens me. But trad-pub is so hard. But it’s still better than self-publishing.

    With trad-pub, you’ll have an audience. But, with self-publishing, you might die unknown.

    I say, keep trying trad-pub. The age doesn’t matter as long as you have a good story to tell.


    • I don’t know about that. Smashwords seems to be a great place to distribute e-books. And e-books are growing. Fast. Especially with younger readers. I might consider e-publishers first, though, as starting my own my publishing house… I know I can’t do it! 😦


  6. I’ll admit self-publishing scares me. A lot. But, it’s something I keep as an option because as a writer, you need as many as you can get. I really would love to go the trad-pub route though. That involves an agent..and the thought of finding one of those puts a nervous knot in my stomach. I guess I’m just protective of my book. It’s my baby lol.

    As a reader, I don’t pay attention to how old the author is or how many books they’ve published or how they really published it. I just want to read a quality story. The authors imagination is what I’m looking at. 🙂

    Marketing is very important. I learned a lot about that when I was a public relations intern a year ago at a college. PR is so important. Getting your name out there is important. I believe you can do it and I’m excited to read your matter which publishing route you decide to go!


    • I think there are trad-pub (maybe the smaller ones) who accept un-agented submissions. Try WordHustler for both agents and publishers. And double check the publisher or agent with either Preditors&Editors or WritersBeware, of course! 😉
      Hey, one day we’ll read/review/promote each other’s book, I’m sure of that! 😀


  7. I dont know much about it now but I did a lot of research into self-publishing a few years ago while researching for an online publishing agency. To be honest nothing I found made me want to consider self-publishing. I think the only time you might want to do it is if you have a really clear audience/market you can sell to. So for example I knew a guy who researched and wrote history books for historical societies. He sold lots of books because his market was already an organised group that he could easily tap into. If you simply have a story and that’s about it, I think marketing would be very very difficult. Just a thought.

    P.s. I had an art review published recently which Im stoked about. Hope you have time to check it out on my blog.


    • Probably non-fiction or creative fiction writers do better with self-publishing because they have their own nice or people finding them because they’re interested in their topic.
      For fiction, even genre fiction, it’s definitely tougher…
      (will check your blog later)


  8. Terrific post! I have had the same issue with Christian vs. secular. I think some of what I write may be in between the two.

    At this point, I haven’t considered self-publishing because I don’t think I have the skills to pull it off. I could promote myself, but I need some direction.

    Good luck to you!


    • if it’s only directions you need, check the Marketing Guide at Smashwords, it’s free, and indeed has lots of advice, including how to use Twitter (which doesn’t mean I’ll start to tweet anytime soon either, but at least I’m on Facebook! ;-))


  9. Miss Rosemary

     /  21/08/2010

    Point number one is escatly me! The semi-Christian scenes but hot and heavy romance with husband and wife which I think is TOTALLY acceptable.

    As far as self-publishing goes, it’s always tempting especially when I’m on my period and really depressed about how decidedly NOT published I am. But after spooning some icing from the can into my mouth and getting over myself, I realize that it’s probably not the best thing, mainly because of the editing. I want it done right and in tip-top shape.

    I think it’s worht waiting for no matter how old you are.


    • finding that perfect editor for self-publishing…. sigh! 😦 Soooo hard indeed! 😦
      But we’ll make it! 😀


  10. katekay

     /  23/08/2010

    Hi Barb,

    I looked into self-publishing, as well, but decided to go a slightly different way in the end. I may be able to recommend an editor and have some other suggestions (e.g., micropresses) for you. I can also offer you a critique of your first ten pages. If you’re interested, please contact me through the contact form on my website at

    Take care!

    – Kate


    • thank you, Kate! Will look into it in September… when I get back to editing (sigh!)! 🙂


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