My (Self) Publishing Adventure

I finished my first novel 15 years ago. It took eight months (which is nothing for me) because once I discovered I could write, I threw myself into it, scared if I stopped the ability would leave me forever.

I’d searched my whole life for that thing that was a part of me, and I didn’t want to let it go. I didn’t sleep well, and everyday after work my gradeschoolers sat in front of the TV od’ing on Disney channel, and destroying the house, but I’d find four hours a day to write.

Manuscript done, I found black literary magazine article listing publishers that accepted my type of material and I submitted to five. The very first one asked for the full manuscript.

There was no doubt in my mind my book was going to be published. I started planning, how I’d use the advance to pay my bills, quit my job, and write full-time. I was on a cloud, walking in my destiny. I was called, chosen, anointed, and appointed to be a full-time novelist.

Then the rejection letter came. I wasn’t just disappointed, but distraught and humiliated. I felt like God had played a cruel trick on me, leading me to my purpose then knocking me flat. I quit.

It’s not that I thought the novel was good. I did the best I could. I’d assumed since God had called me to write it, He had some provision in place for its meteoric success. All I had to do was finish.

I couldn’t quit for long, because writing was that missing glue that put me together. Through it, I found my identity. Not being raised around creative people, I didn’t understand what it meant to be creative and I’d always been a misfit. Discovering I was a creative meant embracing that part of me proudly. I tried so hard to fit in, and now I’m so grateful that I didn’t.

I never got over the query rejection. I completed two more novels, and tried to find an agent. Got some constructive feedback in one of my rejection letters —too much profanity for a Christian novel!

However the process was too much for me. I applaud those who can do it, and I suppose there’s a benefit to that misery. However, I went back and looked up the publishers who rejected my work early on, and most of them don’t exist anymore.

After my last attempt I decided self-publishing was my path. Why?

I needed to move on. I wasn’t going to change my writing style or my genre to try to cater to the market or to some person who would try to sell my work. I wasn’t going to run to writer’s conferences and take costly workshops and seminars to write better, or spam agents over social media.

I was going to write like me to the best of my ability.

I found the term self-publishing has different meanings, by clicking an internet link to receive a ‘self publishing kit’. The kit came in the mail with the announcement that for $6000 I could live my dream of being a ‘Self-published Author’. I might have gone for it, had they not harassed me with phone calls and emails every other day. It felt a bit slimy.

So I did my research and found each piece of the process has it’s own price range that I could choose to pay or not. There’s complete freedom from what form–e-book, paperback, audio, to what platform–Kindle…Smashwords… to cover art, to editing, to advertising. I happened to have a limited budget when I published my first so I used those resources to hire an editor and did everything else myself. I wasn’t all that impressed with the job she did so I self edited my second.

The bottom line is we all have different goals for our work. I have stories to write and I need to get them published without barriers, but I understand that the publishing industry is looking for products that will generate profit worth their time.

Our priorities are not the same and that’s fine with me.

Published by michelle

As an author of works of fiction I long to share the gift, God has given me. I enjoy the process of creating and believe I have more to say about it, that goes beyond simply doing it.

One thought on “My (Self) Publishing Adventure

  1. It’s so cool that you still found the time to write even though you had a busy life. That alone is a cause for celebration, even if you had to face rejection. Anyway, wishing you all the best in your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

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