I started writing my first novel in 2013. Juggling taking care of my family, working a full-time job, and keeping up with shopping, laundry, and housework, I worked on my story in the snippets of time available and at the same time, contemplated what I would do with a finished manuscript. I also began an earnest hobby of reading my favorite genre – sweet romance. Having been burned in the past with authors that crossed my own personal line of morality in their writings, I became convinced there was a market for clean literature with captivating happily-ever-afters. I learned about the LDStorymaker’s Writers Conference and determined to attend so I could learn more about not only how to become a better writer, but about the publishing end of literature.
Overwhelmed with so many break-out sessions at my first conference, I heard a little about agent queries, publishing house submissions, and slush piles. They all intimidated me. I hadn’t yet finished my first novel and I had ideas for at least two more spinning around in my head. But, I didn’t think I had what it would take to protect my tremulous confidence in the face of almost guaranteed rejection from professional agents and publishers. At this point, I received for a Christmas present my first Kindle and began gorging on eBooks. I quickly realized that technology had forced the industry to expand, letting in authors who didn’t want to follow the traditional publishing route. I did some initial research online and then set it aside. After all, I couldn’t do anything until I had a book ready to be published anyway.
While I finished my first manuscript in 2015, I continued to read bounteous quantities of novels and paid closer attention to the identities of the publishers. Many of the authors were self-published and although I wasn’t always impressed with the quality of the grammar and formatting, the mistakes I found actually convinced me that self-publishing wasn’t the scary monster I thought at first. My second foray into the writer’s conference pushed me to take more classes on publishing in general and self-publishing specifically, focused on Amazon. The information I found there was invaluable and gave me the boost I needed that, if the services Amazon offered were worthwhile, it would put my book on the market that much sooner, with a higher royalty rate, and complete control of my writings. In addition, I was told that as publishing had evolved to include independent authors, marketing a book fell more and more to the author and away from the publishing house. I figured if I had to do the marketing either way, I would be happier maintaining control and being able to get my work to market quicker.
I took the initial steps to have certain friends read my book when it was ‘finished.’ From there I began the tedious revision process, working hard to clean up the copy and fill holes in the plot. The multiple positive comments I received from my friends further convinced me that I could publish the novel myself and jump-start my new career. Taking the advice of my critique partners to heart, I continued to revise and edit my story. After three long years from the time I started, having put every ounce of talent and skill I had accumulated into my first novel, I couldn’t bring myself to sacrifice it to the quirks and competition within the traditional publishing community. This was my baby. Publishing on my own seemed like the equivalent of raising my child.
I’m a methodical writer. Once past the initial creative process, I approach editing and revision like a job and I knew in my heart that I could follow the instructions that were so clearly written by the publishing arm of Amazon to give my novel life. When I weighed the uncertainty of traditional publishing against the DIY approach, with all the control and financial benefits, the choice for me was clear. It’s hard to explain the elation I felt when I pushed the Publish button on my computer and my novel showed up on Amazon!