business / Guest blogs and bloggers / Survival of the Fittest / writing

Why Self-Publishing is Right for Me

self-publishYears ago, I submitted my first novel to a list of agents who specialized in my genre, sure they’d love my quirky clever book. I’d edited, re-edited, and run it by people I trusted–it was dressed for success. At that time, I didn’t realize that finding an agent was like putting a hood on a falcon while holding a mouse in the other hand. The reply (when I got one) usually sounded something like, Excellent writing but not what I need right now.

And then one agent called me! He loved my writer’s voice but would like a few changes:

  • Add new characters
  • Change the setting and the timeframe
  • Put more action in the plot

Basically, if I changed the entire concept, he’d look at a rewrite.

That’s when I first considered the possibility that self-publishing could be a better option.

It’s not just me, either. Many writers are looking at self-publishing. In fact, more books are self-published than traditionally (by a lot). What surprises me is that agents don’t accept that self-publishing is a real, practical option for writers. Rather than woo me away from that alternative, they think they’re doing me a favor to consider my book. I hear how busy they are, how many unsolicited submittals they get, how they are looking for blockbusters, how they ignore proposals that don’t follow the guidelines. It reminds me of middle school dances where I sat in a chair along the wall, (almost) shaking, sure it was my fault no one asked me to dance. If only I was prettier, more outgoing, or more popular. Now, as an adult, it’s the same feeling; just the reasons have changed–If only I could write better, write stories people want to read, or action-pack my plot.

After the bazillionth rejection, I stopped blaming myself. I didn’t crawl under my writing desk or burn my manuscript or buy more books on How to Write or enroll in yet another conference that promised to get me noticed. I took my wonderful novel, got it professionally edited, bought a spectacular cover, and self-published.

That was a couple of years ago. Now, in the fullness of time, I don’t mind that it didn’t become a NYT best-seller. I am thrilled that book sold enough to pay the cost of writing it (even covered a few car payments). The more books I publish, the more books I sell. I still remember the day I could quit the day job and devote myself to my passion–writing.

Let me wrap up with the big reasons why self-publishing is right for me:

  • It’s faster. I write, edit, rewrite, re-edit, publish, market, and start over. All of that takes a lot of time but less than the two years agents told me was the minimum time from signing a contract to publication.
  • I have more control. For better or worse, it’s on me to pick what works best for my novel. I like that and I trust myself to make the right decisions.
  • I can write what I want rather than what an agent thinks will sell.  
  • Because most publishers don’t do much marketing–especially for new authors–I’m not missing out on anything there.
  • I make more money. Sure, I bear the cost of production and marketing but I also get all the proceeds. So far, that has been better than the average that mid-list authors make with a publisher (here’s another link on author’s income).

This discussion of self-publishing is my long way of letting you know my fifth self-published ebook, The Quest for Home, Book 2 in the Crossroads trilogy, is ready to launch! Its tagline:

Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.

It’s available for pre-order on Kindle, digital right now but print coming. I’d love your help with my virtual Book Launch. If you can,

click this Google Form

And let me know which options are best for you. Anyone who helps, I’ll include a link to your blog, your author page, your latest book on my blog’s front page for about two weeks. And, I’ll send you everything you need.


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 the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Fall 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

125 thoughts on “Why Self-Publishing is Right for Me

  1. Reading this I can definitely see the attraction of self publication and it makes actually way more sense especially when agents aren’t happy with what you write about and want you to change the whole book.

    Liked by 2 people

      • It’s interesting that it’s exactly the other comment.

        I think everything in life is both good and bad. I don’t think there is anything at all that is entirely good or entirely bad. And as long as you’re aware of where you lie on the spectrum it’s okay. I can learn a lot from your keeping on, the just keep swimming, or the keep on keeping on. Whilst you’ll want to balance it. When it comes to some things, giving up is never an option. Or, it is, but shouldn’t be. So not giving up, continuing on, is inspiring.

        Love, light and glitter J…

        E

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I want to say thank you! I managed to stumble across your blog and found it so inspiring and incredible! Your articles hit home with me, especially this one. My book is almost complete and I have juggled the whole Self-Publishing idea. Also, Insecure writer is my middle name, especially because I don’t know where I fit in with different communities. I feel like a jack of all trades but master of none. Creative ideas come my way all the time, it’s just a matter if I seize the moment to capture them. If you have any pointers to give me about self publishing, like what worked and what didn’t, that would be awesome. I’m also new to WordPress, I could use a few there too!
    I look forward to following your blog! Thanks again!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s interesting to get other’s experiencing with publishing and the reasons they choose to go independent and self-publish. I’ve noticed a lot of authors that used to publish the traditional way switch to self-publishing too. Thanks for sharing, Jacqui!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am actually on the cusp of self-publishing— first manuscript, I’ve edited it relentlessly, made my own website from scratch, created the cover art, drew the world map.

    I won’t even try to find an agent. After I read how best-selling actors had to continually bug agents to even be considered, I decided it wasn’t for me.

    I will be publishing my work on Amazon, though I’m not sure where else I can go. Any tips?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I self-published a chapter book for kids a couple of years ago (Winthrop Risk, Detective–The Mystery of the Missing Hamster) because I couldn’t find a publisher or agent willing to take it on. Quirky doesn’t begin to describe it, but it’s a terrific little story (IMHO). Not having a dime for marketing is awful, though. There are so many self-published books out there that it’s easy for one to just get lost in the shuffle. The couple of reviews I had on Amazon mysteriously disappeared. It’s frustrating. No money, no sales. No sales, no money.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I got an agent right away, although she didn’t sell my book.
    I have 2 trad published books I sold to the publisher myself.
    I now have five self-published books, and I’ll tell you what – I won’t be going back to a publisher again, for all the reasons you cited.
    Good luck with the new launch!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Yay for you! And I’ve experienced exactly the same problems/challenges/ results from starting with looking for/finding an agent and then deciding to publish independently. An agent found me several interested editors with my first book TWIN DESIRES. One said, “get rid of the twins but love the bomb action.” Another editor said, “Love the twins but get a different kind of weapon than the bomb.” Another editor… well, you get the gist. Each one loved something but wanted me to change something else – but all different from the other editor. I came to the conclusion that this was MY book and I’d write it/publish it the way I believed in it. Great decision, as is yours. Can’t wait to read your next book in the Crossroads series.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent post Jacqui. I’m happy I made this decision when I wrote my first book and learned a lot about the self pub biz and the fact that even trad published as new author we had to still do all our marketing and social media. I decided to cut out the middle man and no regrets. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. It makes tottaly sense for me. Thank you for your article 🙂 I just released my first autopublished book, and it has been amazing. I have no pressure from publishers, i do my own marketing and i was never happier. 🙂
    Good for you! All the best, from Portugal,
    Rose*

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi, I’m right at the beginning here.. writing my 1st draft with dreams of traditional publication.. actively though trying to build a following.. writing two blogs, in case I decide to self publish! – marketing early! lots of work.. great eye-opening post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish it was different. First, I was a female non-military author writing military fiction (long story) and then I was a prehistoric fiction author writing for a niche populated by one author! No one was interested. But, I couldn’t stop myself.

      Like

    • Well, being able to quit was based on my non-fiction technology curriculum. I augmented that with online classes, webinars, mentoring, and suddenly it worked. I have about 20 non-fic books out. Even with my 5 fiction, I couldn’t quit a day job!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for this Jacqui – excellent points. I’d love to help out with broadcasting your latest book and went to the google form but I’ll have to spend more time in searching for the answers required eg FB twitter handles 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Because of some of the research I’ve done on my current book in draft, No Excuses Fitness, I reached out to an academic publisher, Human Kinetics, I mean go big or go home right, Jacqui? The proposal process is so daunting, I told myself that self-publishing will be fine. Having a blog helps, I believe in the marketing of the book, especially since I also blog about fitness. Am I going to be a best seller and retire completely? No…I write nonfiction and just enjoy crafting a useful how to book now and then. I’ve preordered your book and am really looking forward to reading. Will share and review when time allows.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great reasons Jacqui. More and more I see books by (of) people who have made a name in some field. This is a sort of way of encashing that popularity. Which is OK. I am not grudging them that. The point I am making is that the fiction book of a new author that is published by a somewhat recognised publisher is becoming a rarer and rarer event. Hence self-pub is a great option. The problem, I think, as writers, we could be biased about our book’s relevance. One’s baby is never imperfect. Hence, an ability to self-critique before we jump to self-pub will serve us well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with that. My nonfic is less popular than my fic, and some of my fic less than others. I really don’t see any of my writing with a neutral eye.

      When are you getting your next book out?

      Like

      • And perhaps that is how it should even be. After all, if we don’t like our book, why will anyone else?
        My next book is a touchy subject. I have two books written and ready, but I haven’t been able to excite anyone in publishing. So, in short, don’t know…

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Jacqui – I’m with you … and am sure you’ll include me in your tour … the points you make ring true. So pleased you’ve had success (relative!) – and here’s to more … all the best – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Excellent post and points on self-publishing, Jacqui! My first book was initially published by a regional press and I’m grateful for that; BUT I didn’t have any control over the process and would have made some changes. SO, when the publisher retired and rights returned to me, I began researching self-publishing with Amazon and that’s the direction I headed in when I retired. Amazon is OK, but since I wanted a wider market than Amazon with my latest, I set up my own publishing company (Imprint), so I could upload to Ingram and hopefully get acceptance from bookstores and libraries. So far, it’s looking good. That did not happen with Amazon even though I was signed up for world-wide distribution. We’ll see how it goes with my own imprint. My first four books are still with Amazon exclusively and I’ll keep it that way for now. The jury is out…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jacqui,
    I agree. I started self-publishing children’s books with Kindle Desktop Publishing in 2016. Later, I added acx.com for audiobooks. Even though self-publishing seems overwhelming at first, I have found their turorials very helpful and phone support wonderful after the long wait on hold during which I read a book. Now, I help beginners self-publish on my three Facebook groups, Books for Children, Free Audiobook Codes for Honest Reviews, and Free Childrens Audiobook Codes for Honest Review. Having paid for ISBN numbers, I now have free ISBN numbers from Amazon. My email is teachersask@yahoo.com

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I self-published at first, Jacqui, but being outside the U.S and UK means I don’t get all the benefits you guys do. I’m with a small publisher now and yes, don’t have all the control I did when I was on my own, but admittedly I reach more readers this way.
    That’s a great tag btw. But may I suggest taking ‘now’ out. “Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Her closest ally,a traitor.”

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Traditional publishers are shrinking – not as many and they’re become much more selective. Sadly, people in general don’t read as much. If you have a market you can tap with out a traditional publisher, did it. The trick is to remember you’re selling a product and that means your in charge of the marketing. If you can do that, you’re golden.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have the same feeling about agents and publishers. It doesn’t help that usually an agent starts by telling me how busy she is and how I have to grab her interest in three words (well, a paragraph maybe. Yeah. I can do that.)

      Liked by 1 person

  19. The only downside to self publishing is the cost of editing and a couple other things. I tried 20 years ago sending my books out. I got a lot of really nice rejections with encouragement. Now the choice of self publishing is amazing. It’s a lot to learn, and I hate the marketing side, but I love the control. A part of me wouldn’t mind having a publisher and all the work fell on them, but it would have to be on my terms…so its just a dream for now. I think self publishing is finally getting some respect and making permanent changes in what is being read. Congrats on upcoming release:)

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Self-publishing has created a landslide of written work. Amazon controls the publishing world and has flooded the market with more than 40 million titles. Indie authors have been given a bad name because most do not have their work professionally edited. Many need better covers. With so many titles time is more important to a reader than money. Will the new author give me the experience I have had with the known writer I read? My novel, “Einstein’s Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure” has a professional cover and has met all the professional standards. Since my novel was released earlier this year I have spent more than $14,000. Maybe my novel would have received better traction had it been published before Amazon became the behemoth of publishing. I do not want a traditional house to underwrite my work. The traditional houses make the author do most of the marketing, take control of the copyright and most of your royalties. Only time will tell how the lawsuits against Amazon’s control of content will play out. Right now my royalties from Amazon with 100 copies sold are about $150.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yikes! That’s a long way before break-even. But, you can start your blurb with your awards. Potential readers will see this isn’t a substandard book. That’s why I start with known writers in my field (well, and I don’t have any awards!). Viewers will see someone they have read likes my book!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I have four book awards since January. I promoted EC two years before the launch date. My audiobooks are selling as well as my kindle books. Paperbacks not so much. The benefit of promoting early is to connect with top bloggers like Jacqui and an audience that want to read your genre. Jacqui read my book bubbles on Bublish and want to read and review EC before it was launched. More than 200,000 people read my book bubbles in the last two years before the launch. Amazon’s book review henchmen are keeping reviews from being posted. I have 19 reviews. I expected more. I have 24 reviews on Goodreads. Some of my readers who wanted to write reviews on Amazon were declined. I also purchased three book blog tours. The first blog tour was the most successful because it coincided with my book launch. I spend a lot of time on social media. The negative atmosphere in the world is turning people off to participating in reviews or paying attention to a good book like mine.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve had the same experience with Amazon. I don’t know what they’re thinking. But they are king and I’m a simple subject.

          Were the blog tours worth it? I did one, a long time ago, and they didn’t focus on my genre. Turned me off of the whole thing. Have you tried BookBub? That’s on my radar lately.

          Liked by 1 person

          • The first blog tour I purchased was the best one and did create most of the reviews on Amazon. I would not invest more money into blog tours. The tour operators use your information to promote themselves to create more blog tours. I received no book reviewers on the second blog tour. On the third blog tour, I requested book reviewers.Of the fifteen bloggers only three read and reviewed the book. Two of the three posted their review on Amazon. The third reviewer posted stars on Goodreads without a review. I tried BookBub but unless you are a known author your wasting your money. During a local arts festival I sold twenty paperback books at $15.00 each. I gave out bookmarks and encouraged people to buy the audiobook. Sold about five over the next month. So, the best way to make money is one on one at events.

            Liked by 1 person

  21. Wonderful post, Jacqui! I’m going to be self-publishing in the future since I hit a snag with my traditional publisher. I’m not looking forward to the extra promotion involved (they did a lot of me), but I do like the new freedom I’m feeling, At the same time, I plan to shop my WIP (when finished) to an agent. I have enough indie works in the bag that I hope to be able to do both. I figure if finding an agent doesn’t pan out, I haven’t lost anything.

    Looking forward to your book launch!

    Liked by 3 people

    • It is hard, and there’s so much I don’t know about marketing and distributing. Baby steps.

      When you query agents, they’ll see the quality of your work and how you deliver on promises. I think that’s a great start.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. This was a great post, Jacqui! Since my first self-published book released yesterday, the jury is still out as to whether or not I’ll try it again. You’re so right about it being faster. Writing for a large publishing house requires a lot of patience because things move so slow.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s less about work ethic than a abysmal fear of being bored. If I’m not DOING, I’m fidgeting. Some day, I’ll get old enough that will disappear (though I’m about your age). My mom called it St. Vitus Dance.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Excellent, post, Jacqui. I have set up my own publishing company and sold my first book to WH Smith for £ 25,000, 10,000 copies. Then five thousand more to other booksellers.
    I had a very bad experience with one agent and it was enough for me at the time. There are quite a few famous writers who had been rejected by several agents and publishers.
    Still, if a very good agent would approach me now about my nature writing, I would be happy to consider.
    .

    Liked by 3 people

  24. I disagree with “What surprises me is that agents don’t accept that self-publishing is a real, practical option for writers.” Maybe that used to be the case, but you’ll find it isn’t anymore. Agents look at the best publishing option for each book an author has – many agented authors have self-published books as well these days (most authors are hybrids). Agents are very aware as well that the best option for some authors is to be completely self-published – the good agents will say an author needs to think about what it is they are wanting and if the boxes tick for self-pubbing go that way, or if they tick for an agent then go that way.

    Liked by 4 people

    • You’ve met agents I haven’t–and I’m jealous. It makes sense, what you’re saying. I just don’t see it. I am going to a Writer’s Digest conference in October so I’ll see what they say there.

      Like

      • That’s such a shame you haven’t found that to be the case.

        How exciting you’re going to WD in October! I assume (hope!) you’ll report back in – and mention if you found a difference in opinion there.

        Liked by 1 person

  25. Good analogy on finding an agent. A lot of the ‘encouraging’ stories about authors getting multiple rejections from publishing houses fail to mention they often have an agent behind them, e.g. J.K. Rowling when she famously received rejections.

    Liked by 3 people

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