What’s So Great About Self-Publishing? Guest Post by Jeannette DiLouie

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by guest blogger and author/editor, Jeannette DiLouie.  Jeannette is an independent thinker, author of ten books, currently, in genres of Historical Christian Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, and Political Thriller. She is an avid reader and book collector. Check out her blog and website at https://www.innovativeediting.com/blog/

What’s So Great About Self-Publishing?

I went the self-publishing route, and I don’t regret it one bit.

This particular adventure began back in 2013, when I gave up on getting a Big 5 contract and decided to take authorship into my own hands. Since then, I’ve published 10 books through Amazon’s CreateSpace, and I plan on doing the same with another two novels this year.

Additionally, as a book coach, I’ve helped other writers take the same journey. It’s an authorial choice I’m willing to stand by, both personally and professionally.

Why do I think it’s such a good idea though? Let me count the ways…

  1. You have total independence throughout the writing process.
  2. You have total independence throughout the editing process.
  3. You have total independence throughout the designing process.

Whatever publishing step you’re at, you’re free to run your business as you see fit. And that doesn’t always happen with traditional presses, as I’ve seen one too many times.

One of the first books I read this year was an utterly phenomenal young adult fantasy novel put out by a Big 5 publisher. The plot was striking, the characters were stellar and the setting was 100% believable. I devoured that book and bought up the second in the series just as soon as I could justify it.

But its sequel wasn’t nearly as good. There were too many new subplots thrown in, too many new character perspectives added, and the setting expanded into something far more complicated.

Book 3 was even worse, to the point where I won’t even bother buying Book 4.

Since the author can obviously write and write well, it begs the question of what in the world happened after that debut novel. Yet I truly believe her deteriorating story line is the publisher’s fault. It felt like she was pressured to just get something out on the market after her initial hit, with truly disconcerting results.

As a self-published author though, that’s not a problem I’ve ever had to deal with.

I also don’t have to worry about a rushed editing job, while many book presses – particularly the smaller ones – don’t seem to care about quality control. Once again, they’re interested in getting a book out to market. Toot sweet.

People complain about self-published novels all the time, and I understand why. Too many of them are poorly edited, to say the least. But my counter argument is that I see the same thing on the professional end of the spectrum.

Missing words, scattered sentences, dangling plot points: You’ll find all of those and worse.

Self-published authors, however, get to choose their own editors. While this does cost me money, I don’t care if it means I can actually be proud of the books I put out there.

Then there’s the issue of my front cover designs, which I put together myself. Did you know that authors are sometimes told to change their stories in order to fit pre-selected pictures? They’ve had to alter character details or rework plot points just to suit their publishers’ dictatorial decisions.

Self-publishing, on the other hand, allows a creative liberty that, in my opinion, can’t be beat. I’ve designed each and every one of my front covers by using Shutterstock, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator; and I adore nine of them.

As for that 10th? Well, they say you can’t have everything in life and I guess it’s true.

None of this is meant to trash talk everything about traditional publishing. There are plenty of books by small presses and the Big 5 that are well-written, well-edited and well-designed.

Plus, authors who choose to unfurl their full individuality also have to handle their own marketing. And as I always tell the writers I coach, that can be a very tough job to fill.

But I still believe that’s a fair trade-off for the certainty that someone else won’t try to take over my story. My authorial independence is something I guard fiercely, so unless some other company can offer me realistic deadlines, thorough edits and a say in my cover art, I’ll stick with self-publishing.

That’s just the way I like it.



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The Great Debate: Traditional vs. Indie (Self) Publishing

I’ve been back in the writing world for three years and seven months being part of a local writers’ group that meets monthly and has critique groups that I have participated in, and an annual writers’ conference. I’ve also attended two writers’ luncheons, put together my own little group of writers who meet weekly, and in the past two years have been involved in an online writers’ group as well as being involved in a critique group for the past two years that meets every other week. I have also been reading books on the writing craft.

During the past two years, I have been researching and exploring the publishing possibilities, and I have found, as the title of this post suggests, that there is a Great Debate among writers: to publish traditionally or indie (self) publishing.

I have found that many older people are quite adamant about traditional publishing but when asked why can’t really give me a satisfactory answer. I have also found that many writers who have already published books seem adamant about starting with a traditional published. However, I have also heard some of these already published writers talking about their desire to switch to indie publishing. (For the sake of simplicity in the rest of this blog post, I will only refer to traditional and “indie” publishing because, though “indie” and “self” publishing are quite similar, “indie” publishing is publishing completely on your own and most of these writers are determined to put out their best writing, whereas “self” publishing includes the writers who just want to put out their writing as quickly as possible and don’t spend enough time on edits, as well as those who publish through vanity publishers (these are publishers who allow you to keep all of your rights and maintain all decision making, but you pay them a fee to help you publish and do some marketing). “Indie” writers/publishers have a better reputation than “self” published writers.

I have found it quite confusing to speak with published writers about the publishing options because they stand firm in telling me that I should seek an agent and go the traditional publishing route first. But, when I ask why, they offer no real good, solid reasons.

I even know of a writer who insists on the traditional route, but after trying that route for a few years, and even gaining an agent, is preparing to self publish the book through a small publisher, which is what the agent found for this writer. To which my question is: will this writer still have to pay the agent for this?

Okay, so here’s what I have learned about traditional publishing: the first step is to acquire an agent who will most likely have you make lots of changes, and, possibly, rewrite your entire manuscript. Then the agent will help you find a possible publisher, who may require you to make more changes and, possibly, rewrite your entire manuscript yet again, and even change it for a different target audience, and then, that publisher may or may not actually publish your manuscript. The entire process can take two to four years for your manuscript to get published, maybe even longer, if ever. If you are blessed enough to get the manuscript published, first of all, it may not be the story you originally intended in the first place. Secondly, your agent and the publisher get a cut of your sales, and you will be extremely blessed to receive even 10% of your sales. Also, you will be required to do as much of your own marketing as possible, which used to be the traditional publisher’s job. Finally, if your first book is part of a series, depending on the sales of the first book, the rest of the series may never get published, and if it does, traditional publishers stop publishing and remove your book from the market after just four years.

Now, here’s what I’ve learned about indie publishing. Yes, you must do ALL of the work yourself. You write the manuscript, AND, if you’re devoted and committed to doing the absolute best work you can do, you will have it critiqued; you will make appropriate changes based on those critiques; you will self-edit and do several rewrites; you will hire a professional editor to give you feedback and then rewrite yet again; you will have beta readers (if you don’t know what beta readers are, read this post), then you may make changes again. Then you will finally publish it through an indie publishing venue like Amazon’s “Create Space” or “Book Baby” or one of the other indie publishing outlets. While you are still working on your manuscript, you may want to begin to think about building a group of followers who would be interested in reading your writing. A good way to do this is to start a blog and share things about your writing and about yourself, as well as becoming active in other social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, etc. When your book is published, it’s a good idea to do a Book Launch (next Monday’s post will be about Book Launches). You will also want to put the information out on your social media, do book signings and/or speaking engagements. Get creative about how and where you can promote your book, but don’t over-saturate your social media or you will turn people off because they will think the only reason you’re on social media is to promote yourself and your writing. Your readers want you to be real and to care about them.

Another thing I want to share with you here is some interesting information one of my writing friends recently shared with me on this subject:

One of my other writing friends has also been researching these options and questioning other writers about their opinions. She shared with me that she recently spoke with some writers who have had books published through traditional publishers and tell newbie writers that they should go the traditional publishing route. She began to ask them: “How did you find an agent or publisher?” She said that most of them said that they found their agent or publisher through a friend. What she realized is that all of these already published writers are telling newbie writers to go the traditional publishing route, but they aren’t offering to introduce you to an agent or publisher. They don’t even tell you that they found their agent or publisher through a friend unless you specifically ask that question. Her thought is “so these already published writers are telling all of us newbies to go the traditional route while they are trying the indie route, like they want us to try the traditional route while they flood the indie market with their works.”

I apologize for such a lengthy post, but I hope you have found it informative and that it gives you something to think about and consider in your own writing journey. If you have any thoughts or questions, please leave them in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer or point you to where you can find the answer.

Life’s Curveballs

Before I write about what’s currently going on in my writing life, I just want to share one of life’s curveballs.  Sometimes I think I will never succeed in my writing because other life priorities keep eating my time.  I know what you’re thinking because I’ve heard it before — “make time for your writing; make your writing a priority.”  I know that’s important, but for me there are other things that are even more important, or I should say people who are more important — my husband, my children, my parents and in-laws — all of the people I love, and I am currently at that place in life where I am needed by my children and my parents and in-laws. 

Recently, my mother needed open-heart surgery and in the beginning, we were on a roller coaster ride as she would have a good day followed by a day with a setback, then another good day followed by a worse setback.  For three days I didn’t do much except cry and pray to ask God to heal my mother and not take her from me yet.  Going through all of that, I couldn’t have written anything if I had really wanted to.  My emotions and my brain were totally overwhelmed with Mom’s well-being.

I praise the Lord now that she is doing much better, though she is still in the hospital.  She is no longer in I.C.U. and she continues to grow stronger and healthier each day, but she still has a long way to go, and she tires very easily, and she still gets discouraged.  So I need to be there for her to encourage her, to pray for her, to be ready to care for her when she comes home, which I look forward to doing.

Therefore, if I continue to be missing from this site frequently, I hope you will understand.  One thing that will make it easier is the fact that I now have a laptop of my very own, so I will be able to take it with me almost anywhere I go so that I can try to squeeze some writing in during short breaks in the days.

I’m still studying by reading as much as I can and attending any writers’ conferences, workshops and my local writers’ group as much as possible.  I have my local writers’ group next Saturday and I’m looking into attending a one-day writers’ workshop in September and I will be attending one in October.  I am also studying the Christian Writer’s Guide for  2014 to see where I might be able to submit some writing.  I have been told, recently, that it’s a good idea to do some things like magazine articles, devotionals and short stories to submit to different publications to help generate a steady income, as writing books takes much more time until finished product and possible publication and pay.

Our last writers’ group taught us that we may want to consider publishing our own book because it’s very practical and affordable in today’s world with E-books and online publishing opportunities.  It is best to have an agent if you are publishing for a royalty publishing house.  The best way to get an agent is to meet them at a conference and pitch your book to them.  It is very difficult to find and get an agent, and could take you the rest of your life, so don’t wait to write until you find an agent.