Confessions of an Indie Publisher
This is a rehash of an earlier blog, Why Self-Publish, which I posted in 2012. In light of Amazon’s October celebration of great writing self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing, Create Space, and their Audio book program, I’ve decided this was a good time to retell how I came to the decision to self-publish.
When I was a girl, I remember being enthralled with Payton Place. Payton Place was a book first, then a movie and finally a soap opera. It was about a small harbor town with small town values, but beneath the façade of respectability, it was rampant with salacious gossip, abuse, and the secret less than respectable lives of its prominent citizens. However, what captured my attention was the story of Allison Mackenzie, a teenager who wanted to be a writer. The character penned her first novel and prayerfully sent it to a New York Publisher. She soon got a call from the publisher saying that they wanted to publisher her novel. She would have to leave her small town home and move to New York where her career as a novelist was born.
As a naïve young girl, I stupidly thought that this fictional account of Allison Mackenzie’s experience gave me a glimpse into the world of publishing. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that Allison Mackenzie’s publishing experience is just what it was supposed to be, fiction.
Most writers still dream of their manuscript being plucked from the mounds of unsolicited manuscripts that arrive daily at New York publishing houses. After the editors read his/her manuscript they immediately recognize that it has the potential to be the next great American novel. The editors then come together with the sole purpose of grooming this new author into a celebrity and their manuscript into a national bestseller.
The reality is much different. I now see the commercial publishing industry as a sort of closed club and there are only a few ways to become a member of this elite group. One way is to already have a recognizable name. Books have been published by actors, athletes, rappers, and comedians etc. If your name is marketable, you are likely to be welcomed into the inner sanctum of the publishing industry. Another way to break through would be that your writing must fit neatly into the current publishing trend, as in Chic Lit, Urban Fiction, or Street Fiction. Lastly, you must literally know someone.
However, if you are not well known, have no close friends or family in the publishing industry and your writing doesn’t fit neatly into the current publishing trends, you are likely to spend many hours searching for an agent to represent your work. I am not saying that it isn’t possible but I think the odds are about the same as hitting a million-dollar lottery.
If all of this isn’t daunting enough, consider that submitting your manuscript to one agent after another is not only time consuming, it can be very expensive. Although, with today’s technology, many agents accept digital files for submission. However, not all accept emails and attachments, leaving the writer to assume the cost of mailing his or her submission, including return postage.
Let me not forget the dreaded “REJECTION.” Rejections can often be devastating. After you’ve poured your heart and soul into your work, someone who very likely didn’t even read the submission, rejects it. However, most of the rejections I received were very polite. They said things like, “this isn’t right for our agency at this time,” “love your story but I am unable to represent it at this time,” and my favorite, “this is a very creative work and I wish you good luck placing it elsewhere.” I was tired of the rejections. I spent many hours reading articles on the successes of independent authors/publishers.
I was confident that my novel was a great book even if the professionals could not recognize its value. I began to feel that self-publishing was a viable option and started my journey toward publication by reading everything I could on the subject of self-publishing. In 2007 I established the Ambiance Publishing Company and soon published The Vance Legacy, my first novel. Dark Legacy was published in 2015 and I am currently working on a third book.