writers / writing

#IWSG: Pitfalls to Publishing

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s question- What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

This pitfall took me a long time to overcome:

It’s OK to self-publish.

I tried traditional publishing for over twenty years. Granted, my queries were without-a-doubt flawed and my novels are more niche than mainstream, but it’s hard for me to give up on anything. That included following the publishing model that I grew up with. Finally, I realized even if I wrote a great book:

  • I had to reach an agent at that point in time when they were looking for my sort of book (not only their area of interest but a topic they hadn’t just published).
  • I had to jump through word hoops to get my idea across in a few sentences.
  • I had to be more mainstream than I am.

I’d dipped a toe into self-publishing when I set up my own publisher (with a group of like-minded teacher-authors) to release my technology-in-education books so why not fiction also? Releasing my novels as an Indie was much easier than my non-fiction. I wish I had tried it years ago.

I look forward to reading your thoughts!

More IWSG articles:

Changing Goals as Writers

Will my new book be a bang or a whimper?


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Timefirst in the Man vs. Nature collection. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.


109 thoughts on “#IWSG: Pitfalls to Publishing

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  7. I’m a novice writer. And of course, it’s too early to think about publishing. But, thanks for the article and I will keep in mind. Although, I think that I do not have enough determination to publish my creation. By the way, here view you can read research papers, an essay on how to select editors, and where it is better to publish.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I can relate to what you’ve gone through. I tried the trad publishing route and like your books, my was perhaps too niche, hence the self-publishing road. And I am glad I did because I got to meet incredible authors and friends like you 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are a few ancient Greece/Rome writers–Wilbur Smith and Gary Corby come to mind. I love both of them but otherwise, I can’t think of a lot. Which I think makes your point. If you love that genre–like I do–you quickly seek out the Indies. That niche part is what trad publishers ignore.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for writing this, Jacqui. I do believe that being and Indie Author does not have the stigma attached to it that it used to and your encouraging posts solidifies that thought in my mind. This is the type of encouragement someone like myself needed to hear! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hi Jacqui,
    I’ve only ever traditionally published. I was fortunate in that I did have a lot of control, and was even involved in art department meetings. The support of an entire publishing company, including an editor and a sales team, did make a difference. And going through the exercise of completing an NPIR (new product investment review) to establish my target market and look at the competition – that was really helpful.
    All of that said, the publishing world is changing fast. If I write another book, I’d definitely consider indie publishing.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Many trad published authors are self publishing now, especially since publishers want writers to do their own marketing. So why give up the royalties is my thought as well as many others.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This one took me a long time to overcome as well. Thirty odd years, in fact! I had such blinkers on about it. If I wasn’t going to be picked up by a traditional publisher, I wasn’t interested. I think I sort of needed that pat on the back to believe I was good enough. But, I finally had to realize that the pat on the back was not coming. When I finally did relent and publish my first book, the relief and feeling of self empowerment was overwhelming!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I think the thing to remember is that being an indie author (which does indeed sound better than self-published), is different in terms of sales routes. Yes, they are in all the online stores, and yes, it makes sense to have a paperback to support the ebook (especially when doing things in person), but it is still very very difficult to go through the traditional marketing routes – like bookstores.
    But if you adjust your targets, you’ll make it work for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I didn’t know about agents and not submitting work to them if they have something similar out there. It does make sense though. Thank you for always sharing something I need to learn about 🙂 Have a lovely rest of your day 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Jacqui,

    Self-publishing has grown so much over the years. I’m happy there are those such as yourself finding success as Indie writers. If I ever get back into the groove of writing again for fun then I’d certainly do another self-published book. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • You can query, see if there are any takers, and then move forward independently. In my case, I’d be happy to offload the work of publishing on an agent but my books are just too niche.


  16. Great point. I have a friend who has published traditionally and self-published (at the same time). She says she has made more money and exerted more control with self-publishing, making for a happier experience for her. It’s a whole new world out there.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Hi Jacqui – having that group of professional/techie friends to push forward with must have helped so much … and now as you say ‘why not novels’ … well done and good for you … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I can relate. I wanted to go the traditional publishing route for so long and I did find a modicum of success in that field, but now I’m ready and eager to self publish, mainly because I have more control over it and it’s so much faster (without rushing).

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I think most writers, including writers of all genres and all calibers, are being forced into the self-publishing model. Agents won’t look at us or our work if we don’t have a (beautiful, young) public persona and a huge following. It’s good to know that so many writers are producing the very best work they can, often submitting their books to content and line editors to help create the professional product a publishing house editor should do.
    Your success is a beacon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’re right, Shari. With my last book, Born in a Treacherous Time, I was surprised how many (almost 99%) of the writers were self-pubbed. Excluding of course Jean Auel. That told me all I needed to know.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I grappled with that one for a while myself, but when my middle-grade stories weren’t selling, I took the plunge. Now middle-grade seems to be more in demand. What to do next? Go back to a publisher. My writer career map looks like I’ve been drunk for years. The route is anything but a direct one. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I think the stigma of self-publishing is really disappearing. I’ve been making a point to read more self-published novels and the quality has notably improved over the past few years. For my next novel, I plan to send a few queries, but I won’t hesitate to self-publish again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you put your finger on it, Joey–that self-pubbed books are a much better quality, often comprable to traditionally pubbed. It’s no longer books people just had to publish, for family or friends. It’s the product of professional writers.

      I’m with you–I’ll send a few queries and then move on.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I do still send queries but they are entirely stress-free. I don’t expect to find an agent so am not disappointed when my niche writing doesn’t elicit their response. Life is so much better.


  22. It took me about four years – i know, a small fraction compared to 20 – to realize that i should either start seriously querying agents or go indie. I tried querying of course, wrote several query letter to several agents – thinking that the best one would no doubt catch an agent’s attention, but then i put it all aside when the rejections piled in. Last year i researched the indie route, felt my heart sink at the number of things i’d need to accomplish, but then i decided to try. I’m still working at it, and the road isn’t smooth, but i’m moving forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Once that first book is out, with a template created for editors, cover designers, publishers, that sort–the next is much easier. Just wash and repeat. Judging by studies I read on C-list authors (those that are published traditionally but fight for shelf space), I am making more money than most of them. Which isn’t my goal, just a nice aside.

      Liked by 2 people

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