Big Decisions: Self-Publishing

I’ve been writing full-time for over two years now–and part-time for many more. For the first two years, I was focused on finishing drafts and creating worlds. And then, earlier this year, something clicked. I realized I needed to think about how to get those stories into the world, into the hands of readers.

So I started researching. When I wrote my first novella, Good Old-Fashioned Magic, many publishers were looking for novella-length works. But that number has shrunk over the years, and I was starting to have doubts that partnering with a publisher was the best path for my shorter works.

I also realized that my main motivations for wanting a traditional publishing path were because I wanted the validation of having a publisher. I wanted someone to say, “Yes, this work is ready to be published.” But that can’t be the main reason we go the traditional route. My husband pointed out that I was seeking validation, reassurance that my work was publish-worthy.

If we partner with a publisher, it should be because it’s the best path for us, not because we’re worried our work isn’t ready. I started examining my work, really thinking about how close it was to ready, and I realized how much I’ve grown as a writer these past few years. I found a sense of confidence that my work was ready to be in the hands of readers.

Which is why I’m leaning toward self-publishing. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and being an indie author is essentially being an author-entrepreneur. I would have full control over the publishing process, from partnering with a graphic designer to create a cover to choosing an editor to help polish my work.

And I started to get excited. I have a couple stories that are close to ready to being out in the world. And now that I’m pretty sure I’ve found my path, those stories could soon be in the hands of readers.

It is an exciting time to be a writer. Never before have we had so many choices in our path. Even six months ago, I wasn’t sure I was ready to share my work with the world. But I can feel how much I’ve grown as a writer. And my stories are clamoring to be out in the world.

Are you an indie author? If so, what do you wish you’d known before you published? What words of wisdom do you have for those of us considering this path?

ROW80 check-in…

Writing: Wrote the beginnings of and a synopsis for “The Faerie Key,” a short story. Edited the blurb for “The Beltane Kiss” (also known as “Into the Faerie Forest.”) The two are a duet of short stories, one for each of the McAllister sisters, two farm-dwelling sisters whose run-ins with the Fair Folk lead to romance and adventure.

Reading: Read “Mystic Brew,” a short story by Caren Rich. If you’re looking for a quick read for a stormy night, this book is perfect. It’s short, but it’s packed full of detail and suspense. Also read Successful SelfPublishing by Joanna Penn. I’m starting to feel more and more confident that indie publishing is the best path for most, if not all, of my stories, and Penn’s book provides plenty of useful tips. I’m currently reading A Stroke of Magic by Tracy Madison. It’s a delicious paranormal romance, filled with gypsy magic and well-drawn characters. I’m looking forward to reading more in the series.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

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Fantasy & paranormal romance author. Witch. Tarot reader. Possibly a woodland sprite. Debut release TANGLED ROOTS now available. Magic awaits at

10 thoughts on “Big Decisions: Self-Publishing

  1. I think we’re on the same page (umm, #sorrynotsorry about the pun). I’ve got two stories that were already published in a literary review, I’ve been sharing snippets from one, and it’s getting accolades there, too. If I need more proof than that that they’re ready – well, that would be an issue that has little to do with writing.

    It’s a Big Scary Thing, still, but I’m also researching, thinking, and gathering myself while I let the ideas simmer and build.

    I don’t have experience with doing it, but I plan to share what I learn as I go along. =)

    1. Yeah, I’ve reached this point where I feel like the quality is there, and the more I learn about publishing and the realities of this business (good and bad), the more going indie seems like the best fit. Good luck on your journey. Maybe we can share what we’re learning along the way. 🙂

  2. I totally get you on the traditional vs indie. I went indie with my first trilogy. Now I have another work that I first shopped around to agents (no bites) and is now sitting in the hands of two publishers. The process has taken over a year and a half. I keep questioning why I did it this way. Part of it, for me, is definitely the validation. Yet, I even question that. LOL

    1. I’m not opposed to going the traditional route. I just wanted to make sure I was doing it for the right reasons, and that it would be a good idea from a business standpoint. It can be hard to step away from our work and think about it in what can seem like such cold terms. I feel like where I’m at right now, indie is a good fit. That’s not to say that might not change in a few years. Let’s call it an experiment.

      Good luck with your novel that you’re shopping around!

  3. I published my first book traditionally. And while I like very much the people I worked with I really feel like that the traditional path just isn’t for me. I, too, think I needed that ‘validation’. When I shopped my second book around I got bites, but something felt off about going with a trad pub. A big part of it was that it would be hard to justify signing a contract with a trad pub when the bulk of the marketing/promotion would be on me. This wasn’t the only reason, but it was a large part of it! So after researching pros and cons and going back and forth and freaking out (basically) I decided that with book 2 I’m going indie. And I’m terrified. LOL But deep down I know it’s the right choice and that, for me, is all that matters.

    Good luck on your ROW80 goals this week!!

    1. Kat, I feel the same way. Your reasoning sounds similar to mine. I think wanting that validation comes from a good place–we really care about our work and want prospective readers to enjoy our books. So in a way that’s a sign of how seriously we take our writing careers. But I realized validation alone wasn’t enough, and I worried about being penned in by someone else’s schedule and constraints. So here I go down this indie road. Good luck with yours!

  4. I’m a hybrid, a bit of both worlds. The way trad publishing is these days, they’re not much more than a ‘valet parking’ service. After the book is written they provide all the heavy lifting, cover art, formatting to different platforms, very little promotion, (I’m talking about every author who isn’t one of the five-or-so huge releases per year, or the even fewer publishing houses who do do a bit more than that) etc. The author does just about everything else anyway, so why not have a bigger slice of the pie?

    1. Yeah, I’m thinking along similar lines. It’s a business deal, so I would want to make sure I was getting something out of giving up a huge portion of my royalties. And the publishers I was looking at just didn’t seem to be offering a lot in the way of increasing sales. I told my hubby this is an experiment. I’m just going to see how it goes. And if it falls flat, so be it. At least I’ll know.

  5. Thank you, Denise, for opening up about the process behind making a decision whether to go traditional or indie. For me also, I originally believed the traditional route was best for me, that long route of ups and downs of subbing to agents and then directly to publishing houses. One nameless publisher required the writer to complete a 10-page marketing questionnaire with the submission! The best feedback I got was from a top New York agent who personally responded with pointed comments. Two years later after boilerplate rejections or no response at all, I earned a regional award. That gave me the courage to self-publish. We have such a wealth of information to help understand this rapidly changing market. What still surprises me is how challenging the marketing aspect of reaching out to readers and more visibility. I’m not sure I’d change anything on my journey yet (except to improve writing productivity). The lesson for me so far is to continue to learn and practice both craft of writing and marketing skills — and to recognize that building that audience will take more than a few years. I’m excited about your decisions and looking forward to that magical publication date. If you are thinking about a blog tour, please add me to your list!

    1. Like you, I won an award–from a chapter of Romance Writers of America–and that gave me a confidence boost. I’ve been writing for years, but I finally feel like my writing is ready to be out in the world. There’s definitely a learning curve in this industry. Thanks so much for your words of wisdom. I will keep you in mind if I decide to do a blog tour. 🙂

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