Self-Publishing — How I Began

In the beginning. . . .

I started thinking about self-publishing a little over a year and a half ago. Friends like Liz Danforth and Mike Stackpole were fervent about the inevitability of digital change. Mike, one of the first authors to leap into the digital pool, advised a riveted audience at the 2009 TusCon Science-Fiction Convention to start learning about digital publishing and social media.

A little later, J.A. Konrath changed his mind about self-publishing. Prior to that, he’d been against SP for a variety of reasons, but that changed. I hadn’t heard about Konrath then, but I soon would. I devoured books, and later blogs, soaking up information and letting it swirl around in my head until it gelled into a decision.

At the same time I had a couple of former critique partners urging me away from the SP path. They felt strongly that my work was “too good” to waste on self-publishing, that I hadn’t sent my work out enough (I’d only collected a little over 100 rejections) and I hadn’t tried enough of the smaller publishers. So I did more research, decided that The Wild Rose Press would be a good fit for my paranormal suspense Veiled Mirror (in part because they would bring it out in print as well as digital), sent in my query, and settled back to wait – again. Wonderfully, TWRP didn’t leave me in limbo for weeks as other publishers had done. (That’s one of their strengths:  quick, friendly communication.) They asked for the partial, then the full, and then they were saying they wanted to offer me a contract!

My author ticket had been validated!  I was a REAL bunny – er, writer.

And all this time I continued thinking and reading and talking and blogging about self-publishing. I’d discovered Konrath by this time, and Smith and Rusch. Predictions were being made by Stackpole and Shatzkin about when the tipping point would come for paper books and the consequences to bookstores and publishers, and it wasn’t that far off. The voices were combining into a choir singing the same song: Digital Is The Future. It was while I was combing through the galleys for Veiled Mirror that I decided to self-publish my next book, Lightbringer.

But where to start?

As it happened, I read a post on that very subject by Dean Wesley Smith, and so I began, moving in slow motion.

I bought the domain name, Castle Rock Publishing.

Months later, I opened a business account so my sales could be direct deposited.

I researched, and decided not to incorporate.

I registered a Trade name.

I found a cover artist I liked , recommended her to Roxy Rogers, but didn’t contact her myself.

I stalled.

Somehow, the next step, the step of actually contacting the cover artist, of contacting an editor, would make it all real. I knew that once I did that, the rest would be inevitable, I would be a self-publishing author, with all that meant, good and bad. Those “what-if’s” I wrote about in an earlier post arose like a wall of thorns in a fairy tale. It seems silly now, looking back just a few months, but at the time I gave those “what if’s” the power to hold me still.

And then Roxy told me she had contacted the artist I’d recommended, and a freelance editor, and was self-pubbing two of her short stories in August. It was the last little push I needed. If she could do it, I could! I couldn’t let her have all the fun!  I contacted Kim Killion, Edits that Rock, and a formatter.

And so here I am, moving forward again, sharing my journey with you.  I wish I could say that I simply looked at the facts, made a rational decision, and then acted, full steam ahead. If I had, I’d probably already have a self-pubbed book out there. But that’s not how it happened.

I plan to write more about my decision to not incorporate, the importance of covers, how to measure success, and how to make sure your manuscript is the best it can be, with and without professional editing. Let me know what questions you have, and what parts you most want to know about.

10 Comments

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10 responses to “Self-Publishing — How I Began

  1. It’s both exciting and scary to have so many options available. I think it’s always good to wait until you feel comfortable that a decision is right, as long as you don’t wait forever. Those bloggers you mentioned are very convincing, aren’t they? Good luck with your journey.

  2. Love it and thank you. I also recently made the descision to self publish one of my stories – agents and editors tell me there’s no market for historical paranormal romance, LOL. Good luck 🙂

  3. Frankie, thanks for a great post. Do you think everyone needs to set up as a publishing company or can you just go as yourself, the author? Are there pros and cons to that decision? Thanks.

  4. Frankie, thank you for you posts on indie publishing. You’ve made the world a less scary place 🙂

    • Casey, I’m glad I can help! Almost all the blogs and books out there are written as though there’s no emotional consequence to our choice to self-publish. I knew I couldn’t be the only writer out there who sometimes has doubts.

  5. livinglearningeating

    I just self-published a middle grade novel (Elsbett & Robin Take On A-Nasty-Sia) and it’s nerve wracking! I know I need to market it, or it will never get off the ground, but as a poor college student, I’m afraid of investing the money necessary to donate copies to libraries, etc. GAH!

    • Congratulations on publishing your book! You don’t have to spend money to get the word out. Use your already existing social media contacts (but don’t bludgeon people with the info). Find groups on yahoo and elsewhere that discuss books that have topics like yours and share information as well as mentioning your book. Use hashmarks on Twitter (I’m only just learning about this myself.) You don’t have to donate to libraries. Find out who has the power to buy and let her know you’re a local author and that you’ll do a free reading. And write another book! Each new book increases the sales of all.

      Good luck to you!

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