Friday, August 5, 2011


Welcome to Part One, Book Blather's look at self publishing. Part One covers the who and why, starting with new author, Rebecca Rogers. Next up will be Erin Lale who analyzes the technical aspects of publishing your own works. In subsequent posts, we'll look at where and how and feature comments from writer friends on the ever important aspect of marketing.

Who in the world self publishes? Just about everybody, that's who. Not so long ago, real writers were given stern warnings about evil 'vanity presses." They were for people who just weren't good enough to make it in the professional writing world. 
                                                AKA: losers.

 Enter, Amanda Hocking, the 26-year-old who took matters into her own hands and began publishing her own books, marketing them for $.99 on Amazon. Was she successful? Um, yeah, if you call selling thousands of books and then landing a four book deal with St. Martin's Press successful, yes, she is. Even though Hocking is the exception, many multi-published authors are leaving the Big Six to take charge of their own careers. To name a few, Janet Wong who had 21 traditionally published books and J.A. Konrath, the master of self-promotion Children's writer Chris Eboch wanted to write a book set in Egypt. Her editor said there was no interest in historical fiction and besides, they already had a book set in Egypt. Her agent said he couldn't sell it without zombies and mummies. So what did Chris do? You guessed it. Within a couple of months, she published it herself, complete with illustrations by Lois Bradley. Yes, times, they are a-changing.

What about the discouraged young writer following all the rules, only to be slammed with rejections? Time and again, new writers are told, "First, get an agent." Oh, really? Is that easy to do? Agents want to make money. They want to know what you've published. Oh, you're not published? Oops, the Big Six publishers won't accept a submission unless it's from an agent, so basically, dearie,you're screwed!

I asked Rebecca Rogers to kick off this series on self-publishing. Her book, Silver Moon, was previously featured on Book Blather. When I asked Becca why she chose the self-publishing route, she replied, "It was a series of discouragements that led me to self-publishing. After two years of trying to find and agent and watching everyone around me land not only agents but book deals, I finally convinced myself I'd still be getting my stories out there, just not in the traditional way."

Welcome back to Book Blather, Rebecca.

I’m no connoisseur with self-publishing, but, in my experience, I can tell you a few things.

The first common misconception about self-publishing is that it’s a last resort for those who weren’t picked up by agents and/or publishers. While this may ring true for many authors out there, it’s not the only reason. For me, personally, it’s about getting my story out in the world so a wide audience can enjoy it as entertainment. I also like creating book covers and knowing that I’m in control of my sales. The formatting isn’t always pleasant, but it’s worth it in the end if you want to make your book shine.

The second frequent belief is that all self-published books are crap. There are those out there that automatically look down upon books that are self-published and assume they’re not worth the time. It’s too easy for someone to write a book (or something that closely resembles a book) and throw it on the internet for the whole wide world to see and pay money for. But this isn’t always the case. I’m sure there are plenty of books out there that aren’t great, but what you may find as horrible, another may find as magnificent. I’ve come across several indie books lately that have received nothing but praise.

Did you notice I used “indie” in the previous sentence? Yes, my friends. I’m sure you’ve heard people argue about this term for a while now. I’ve seen several agented, published authors mention that we are not indie authors; we are self-published authors. Yes, we are self-published. No, we are not published with traditional indie presses. I do, however, believe that we apply as much, if not more, marketing towards our books as any publisher out there today. We may not have all the necessary tools, but we get the job done. For a more detailed explanation, I want to refer you to fellow indie author SM Reine’s blog post about the difference between self-published authors and indie authors. Plus, it’s easier to say “indie” rather than “self-published.”]]

I think the main thing to remember when you come across a self-published book is that it’s really no different than other books on the market and there’s the need for an open mind. Self-published books still tell a story, have characters, and are meant to engage readers. So don’t push aside your preconceived notions about self-published books just yet. With ever-increasing sales on markets such as Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s NOOK, indie authors are making headway. 


  1. I was very anti-self publishing because I was confused between the terms self publishing as opposed to actual vanity presses. Eventually my sister and writing partner Loni Emmert made the distinction for me and convinced me that self pubbing had many attractive benefits!
    I self published in reverse, having already been signed with several publishers. Isadora DayStar, my current & first self published book, I published because it does not fit into any category of my previous publishers and I, like you, wanted to get it out there for people to read at a reasonable price & mainly see people's reaction to it. Great post and nice to see I'm not alone!

  2. I'm sure Becca will drop by later to comment but I simply had to add my two cents' worth. P. J., it seems that many published writers, like you, are sick of being jerked around by their publishers, receiving minuscule royalty checks for hundreds of hours of hard work and ready to re-gain control of their careers. I say, "Good for you!"

  3. Oops, sorry, you're not P. J. You're P. I.! Are the eyes the first to go?

  4. Dawn Lavella Miller says, "Thank you Rebecca and Marilee! As a budding author, I am very interested in the possibility of self-publication. I am looking forward to the next installment!"

  5. I'm here!

    Hey P.I.! Glad to hear you're a fellow indie author and took the self-publishing route. I think most authors want to have some control over their books--and with traditional publishers you don't really have that option.

    I wish you and Loni much success with self-publishing! :D

  6. Hey Dawn! I'm glad to hear you'll be taking the self-publication route. Once you get the hang of the first book, the rest are cake. Here's to much success in the future!


  7. Th following post is from cookbook author, Jean Denham.
    "My genre of books is different than those who are posting here; I write cookbooks and because I’m not known beyond my circle of friends, neighbors, relatives, and customers, I figured I had not a snowball’s chance in hell of every being accepted by a publisher. So, we went the self-publishing route and we’ve never looked back. I love the total control we have over all the books, but must admit it takes a lot of work to track down shops that will carry these little gems of cooking wizardry.
    I’m now working on books numbers 5 and 6 and this time around we are even going to self-print which we have not done before. We are retired (read ‘fixed income’) and with our investments not at their best right now (plus the damn rental house is empty for a couple of months), I think this is the way to go. Just print on a need only basis. I am investing in a wonderful printer and then we are off to the races.
    My only problem is designing covers – I know what I want, but I sure am not an artist. I did invest in a graphic designer for one of the books and I’m so glad I was able to – that book has the best cover of all of them. But, it was expensive, so I’m back to designing my own.

    Good luck to us all in these endeavors and I wish I could read every single book you all put out there for us."

  8. Sounds like you're having fun publishing those cookbooks, Jean! By the way, did I mention how much I love food? ;)

    Good luck with your past, present and future cookbooks! :D

  9. I'm so happy to see the growing acceptance of the term "indie author," and the acceptance of the reality of the self-published, high quality book.

    The disdain the traditional publishers have for the self-publishers hides a logical leap that says only the big publishers know how to edit prose or poetry, or how to handle the mechanics of publishing. But indie authors are changing the publishing world.

    Great work, Marilee. BTW, if it's just the eyes that go, you're lucky ...