Why I Chose To Self-Publish My Books

I self-published my debut book three months ago. It hasn’t been an easy journey and I’m certainly still trying to figure things out. I’ve been wanting to write this post and explain why I chose to self-publish my books for a while but never thought there was a right “time.” I recently saw someone on Twitter post something that rubbed me the wrong way and I figured now was as good a time as any.

Why I Chose To Self-Publish My Books | Creative Writing | Author | Indie Author | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

All Opinions Matter

I’m not going to name names or quotes tweets. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I recognize there are people out there who believe traditional publishing is “better” than self-publishing. On the flip side, there are people out there who believe self-publishing is “better” than traditional publishing. What I’m realizing is that these people all have one thing in common – they write what they know.

“Write what you know” is a big piece of writing advice that people toss around. The people who think one way of publishing is better than the other, do just that. They write what they know in the sense that traditionally published authors believe that’s better because they never tried self-publishing. Self-published authors think that’s better because they were never published by a traditional company.

Obligatory disclaimer: I, of course, don’t mean everyone. There have been authors who let go of their agents deciding to self-publish instead and there have been some self-published books that were picked up by agents. These things happen and if it happens to you, great. You get the best of both worlds and try out all the different angles of getting your work out into the world. Again, everyone is entitled to their option no matter how they came to the conclusion.

Here’s What Bothers Me

The tweet I saw basically said that an agent or publisher will pick you up if you write good books. Rejection means that’s it not good enough, it won’t sell. Therefore, keep working and try again.

I don’t agree with that.

Yes, rejection, in a sense, is good. It allows you to grow a thick skin, take another look at your work and keep improving. Determination, patience, all that fun stuff. Who is to really say whether a book will sell or not? There have been traditionally published books that didn’t sell and the agent left the author because… well, it’s all about money. I mean, fair enough. It is a business for agents and that’s their job. If they can’t make money off your book, then bye-bye to you.

What really bothered me about this statement – and maybe I misinterpreted it, but I think it’s worth talking about anyway – is that it said you’ll only get picked up traditionally if you write good books.

Well, who is to say a book is good or not? Certainly not one single opinion. Certainly not that person who has two books in hand and can only take on one more project and they just happen to enjoy that other book more than yours.

In my opinion, the readers decide that. If you market the target audience well and have a great following before, during, and after your book is released, you’re most likely good to go. No one said writing was easy. No one said it was a “get-rich-quick” scheme.

You will be someone’s favorite author someday. Even if it’s just a handful of people. Your writing is good. Your story matters. Don’t ever forget that and keep going. It doesn’t matter if an agent or publisher deemed your book “worthy” to see the light of day or if you took a chance on yourself and tossed it up on Amazon.

The Rules Of Writing

Okay, there are “rules” that we should follow when it comes to writing. Grammar is important. However, there are other general rules when it comes to creative writing. Show, don’t tell. Write what you know. No adverbs.

Well, rules were meant to be broken. People don’t speak in perfect English, so neither should your dialogue. Sometimes, it is better to tell than to show. Research is your friend – write what you don’t know. If it’s fiction, embellish a bit and make something up.

Do you know what this is called? Style. Every writer has their own writing style. This doesn’t make your writing “good” or “bad.” It’s your own unique voice. Some people may not be impressed but others will absolutely love it.

So, I ask again, who is to say a book is good or bad?

Which Is Right?

I have read some great self-published books and some not so great. I have also read some awesome traditionally published books and some that were not so hot. Why didn’t I enjoy these books? Not because the author was represented or because they did it themselves, it just happened to not be my cup of coffee. Maybe I couldn’t relate to the protagonist, but someone else out there does. Maybe I thought the plot was dull, but someone else out there thought it was fabulously well-executed. Maybe my copy was riddled with typos but someone else got a later edition than mine and that had been fixed.

You can say authors who are traditionally published are hard-working to meet their agent’s deadlines, determined to get that agent, and patient while they wait for their query to hopefully be seen. You can say authors who are self-published are hard-working to meet their man-made deadlines, determined to get their story told regardless of the number of rejections, and patient while they research their audience, trends, marketing plans, cover designs, and more.

There are people out there who self-publish because they were frustrated no one would pick them up. Or they self-publish because they just want to get their story told. They’re not looking for the money. They do it because they love it.

Some people go the traditional route because they don’t want to do the majority of the work or they don’t think they can. Or they want to see their physical books on the shelves in bookstores.

There are so many reasons people choose one or the other. They do what’s best for them, what’s best for their story. And that’s the way it should be. If someone wants to spend, potentially, a few years querying, then more power to you. Good for it and good luck. If someone else would rather do the majority of the work themselves and learn the ropes of self-publishing, then I say the same. Go for it and good luck.

Why I Chose To Self-Publish My Books

I’ve been writing since I was ten and, at the same, traditional publishing was the only “right way” to get published. Self-publishing wasn’t as big and it didn’t have a great rep around it. I didn’t know anything about anything, so I followed the crowd and thought my book would be on the shelves at Barnes & Noble from some big traditional publishing company and I’d be sitting in a pile of money.

Of course, ten-year-old me didn’t realize how obnoxiously wrong all of that actually is.

I chose to self-publish for two reasons.

1. I tried the querying game and didn’t like it.

I queried for a few years. Novels, children’s books, poetry. Nothing ever came to be. The rejections were hard, but I knew I just had to work harder.

Just because no one wanted my work, doesn’t mean I chose to self-publish as a way of “giving up.” I just didn’t like the process of it. This agent is currently not taking on new clients, this one wants the first three chapters, that other agent wants the whole manuscript, while this guy wants a blurb. The agent wants a paper copy, this one wants an email. It was hard to keep up and keep track of it all. Sure, I had a spreadsheet of which novel I sent, to who, which company, when, what format, when/if I heard back, etc. But it was time-consuming and the research was killer. (Seriously, I can’t begin to explain many agents and publishers I researched that I could find any of their information anywhere on their website… I hope this has changed since then because one of those agents could have been the one for me. But I shall never know now.

In addition to this, I realized something about myself as I got older and learned more about the process. Hence, my other reason for choosing to be self-published.

2. I want it my way.

Yes, sounds selfish, I know. But when I was in high school and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, my therapist noticed something about me. They wanted me to get back into school, but she recognized my ambition and took that into account. Instead of trying to get me back into high school for my senior year, she found a dual enrollment program at a local community college.

I went to college for my senior year of high school. My courses counted toward my high school credits as well as credits toward my degree. I killed two birds with one stone – getting my high school diploma and getting my first year of college under my belt.

This was the best thing for me because she knew I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I was already doing it. Writing in between school, homework, and my job. Not only did this allow me to continue my schooling and graduate high school, but it allowed me creative freedom and set the foundation for where I am now.

Later in life, I’d take a risk and quit my job and pursue this writing thing. I have worked harder than ever before, researched and taught myself so much. I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve become a businesswoman. I’m always looking to grow and expand my current work. I’ve learned about creative writing, blogging, website building, freelance, social media/marketing…

Hey, I even published a book myself.

And I’ve helped other writers and bloggers along the way, promoting their work as well. I’ve met a lot of great friends and have learned from them as well.

I have ideas. I know how to grow. I want to create bigger and better things. I can’t do that if I had to go through my agent who then needed to go through whichever publisher decided to take a chance on me.

I mean, I have a novel timeline through 2021. Do you know how fast publishing a book would go if I went through traditional publishing? I’m not sure, but I know it can take a year or two. Faster is not always better, of course, but it’s easier when you’re mostly answering to yourself.

Do What’s Right For You

I’m not saying self-publishing is better than traditional publishing. I’ve never been traditionally published so I have no idea what the pros and cons are. What I am saying is that self-publishing was the right choice for me. Some people may not enjoy my books, but I know there are people out there who will enjoy them. To those people, my book is considered good. And it wasn’t accepted by an agent or represented by a high publishing company.

Which route did you or will you take when publishing your books? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Starbucks!

Coffee

 

 

So Kris and I decided that we were going to go to Barnes and Noble today and write. Yes, we have our office now at home, but we haven’t been to Barnes and Noble in a while. We thought we would go, say hi to the workers behind the Starbucks counter there, but…she ended up getting called into work. So we didn’t go.

We did end up going to Starbucks, though. Since she was closing, we thought we would get coffee and write in our office at home. She continued to edit her novel while I continued to write Inspiration Station.

The more I write that novel the more I realize that I have no idea what I’m doing. When I wrote Detective Florence, I outlined the first part of the novel and continued to outline as I wrote the rest in an attempt to making editing easier for me. I am not outlining Inspiration Station and I never planned on it because this was something I began to write when I had a slight writer’s block. I didn’t expect it to turn into an actual novel. I was still able to write 5,096 words for it, though.

I also changed my schedule, you can see it on the To Do List. Even though I have a lot of free time without work and school, writing 5,000 words a day and editing takes a lot out of someone. So I decided that I’m going to write 5,000 words a day Monday-Thursday and edit Friday-Saturday and relax on Sunday. I can write/edit if I feel like it, but I’m not obligated to do anything. This will be helpful for when school does start back up again (in about a week and a half) and I can do the bulk of my homework on Sunday. Not ideal, but whatever.

So, since tomorrow is Friday that means I’m going to edit. I’m hoping to edit a lot as I would love to self-publish this novella by the end of 2014…wish me luck!

Goodbye 2013!

New Year

 

 

Today is the last day of 2013. How weird is that? I decided to do something special on here in celebration of 2014. I spent most of the morning going through all my blog posts from 2013. I had a good few laughs at the things that happened and there were also a lot of things that I couldn’t remember that happened. Oh, and I wish I counted all the typos I have made in my blog posts…sorry about that!

Anyway, I thought it would be cool to recap on everything that happened in 2013. I know WordPress sends something about views, stats, posts, pictures, comments, followers, etc. But my report is going to be about everything that actually happened in real life. And I know I don’t post every day or post about everything little thing that happens in my life, we can still get a pretty good idea on what’s been going on.

January:
–I was in the middle of writing The Blank Page.
–Dick passed away. Dick was an old man from my church. He did a lot for the church and the people apart of it. He passed away from a long hard-fought battle of lung cancer. It’s really hard to believe that it’s already been about a year since his death.
–We switched from Verizon to Comcast. My laptop still has internet issues because of this. It’s been almost a year of me fighting with my internet connection, too!
–My flash drive died and I lost everything. All the novels I was currently working on and already completed. All my lesson plans for Sunday school, everything for work, all my homework, among other things. I literally lost everything.

Feburary:
–About a week after my flash drive died, I finally got back into writing. I started writing Take Over (as The Blank Page was lost and I was too discouraged to re-write it). I worked on Take Over for the entire month.
–I got my driver’s license.

March:
–I prepared myself to write Saving Each Other for Camp NaNoWriMo in April.
–I continued writing Take Over.
–I sent my picture book Asking Bobby to a publisher.
–I came up with the idea of starting a vlog.

April:
–Wrote Saving Each Other for Camp NaNo and finished it. Began the second part, Seeing Things. I also finished Take Over and began writing The Blank Page again.
–I wrote one haiku a day for the NaPoWriMo, but finished after April.
–I finished my first vlog, but decided not to post it
–I began writing Far Away in a notebook
–I was interviewed by Briana Vedsted
–Did a Booky Questions and Blog Hopper survey
–I made a goal to finish The Blank Page in May, which never went through.

May:
–Attempted to write The Blank Page and the three novels that are written in that novel. None of them got finished.
–Made a writing and editing schedule which stuck for a little while.
–I was nominated for the Sunshine and Super Sweet Blogger awards.
–I began editing Diary of a Lover while my mom began to edit Take Over.

June:
–Finished the fourth draft of Diary of a Lover. I tried to print it out to let Kris edit it, but the printer broke.
–I began to edit Hunter because I didn’t want to start a new project before the next session of Camp NaNo in July.
–My sister Lisa moved out with her boyfriend, my two cousins moved in with my grandparents, and I graduated with my Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education.
–Began to write a Pokemon FanFiction that is still not finished.

July:
–I decided to write Cybertra for Camp NaNo, but ended up not finishing it in the end. I ended up not being into the story anymore. Needless to say, I lost that NaNo session.
–Kris and I tried out a new writing schedule, but after going on vacation for a whole week, the schedule died.
–Decided to do contests and post stories into books such as Chicken Soup for the Soul.

August:
–Sam, a boy I babysit for, wanted me to write The Babysitting Adventures of Rachel which is about the two of us. I never wrote it, although I had plans to.
–I thought a lot about my future. School, work, writing, etc. Wondered where I was going to be in a few years and how I was going to get there.
–Comet, my uncle’s dog, was put down due to cancer.
–I had a tough time writing so I wrote a silly prompt and it ended up sparking a few new ideas.
–We began to remodel Lisa’s bedroom so Kris and I could have an office. It is now complete and we call it the “Blue Room.” Don’t ask why, we planned on calling it our office.
–I finally got a new flash drive.
–I continued editing and outlining Hunter and began to write and outline Hunted, the sequel.
–My co-worker was laid off due to low enrollment leaving me with a promotion, but it was only me and one other teacher with all the kids.

September:
–Work started as me being a teacher and school started which was my first semester at a new school for my bachelor’s.
–Gloria, a member of my church, passed away.
–I asked for information about Smashwords and got a lot of nice feedback along with others. I still have to finish researching Smashwords, PubIt!, CreateSpace, and Kindle Direct Publishing.

October:
–I prepared for NaNo in November. I planned out the novel using sticky notes, index cards, and a big poster board with Kris.

November:
–I hit 50,000 words on Detective Florence for NaNo 17 days into the month. I am still currently working on the novel. I have a little over 70,000 words so far.

December:
–I won NaNo and I talked about focusing more on my writing
–I lost my teaching job. The preschool closed due to low enrollment and no money. I am still jobless.
–I survived my first semester for my bachelor degree.
–I got the new Pokemon games and a Kindle for Christmas!

So there you have it. A breakdown of everything that happened to me in 2013. But as I looked through my old blog posts I realized probably about 90% of everything I started was never finished. I know I say this all the time, but for 2014 I’m really going to buckle down and get something published. Or get something ready for publication. No more goofing off.

My resolution for 2013 was to read 50 pages a day and write 1,000 words a day. I stopped keeping track long ago, but I know I did not make the reading goal. I most likely didn’t make the writing goal, either. I doubt I wrote 365,000 words this past year. While there were some days I wrote 10k, there were so many other days that I didn’t bother to write at all.

My resolution this year is…

–Finish editing a novel or two
–Read more
–Freelance: Enter writing contests, send stories into magazines, etc.
–Finish what I start

That last one is for everything, not just my writing.

I hope everyone had a wonderful 2013 and I wish everyone the best in 2014! 🙂

And So It Goes On

To Be Continued…

 

As I mentioned in my last post, I won NaNo. Yay!

But I also mentioned that my novel is far from over. I may have hit 50k words, but I still have probably at least another 50k more words to write, if not more. I am writing a murder mystery, after all. This thing takes a lot of planning. I can only imagine what the editing process is going to be like…

Anyway, I continued to write this morning before work. I wrote 2,380 words. I didn’t want to stop at where I left off, but I do have to get ready for work in a few minutes. And I’m not going to have much time to write when I get home from work, either.

I’m glad that I’m still into my novel. I usually have the issue of not finishing what I start. Usually when I write a novel, I get other ideas for other novels and I tend to hop around between novels. I’m actually sticking with this one and I keep coming up with more ideas for it.

Then again, I never finished my outline for the novel and I already wrote everything that I had put onto my outline. So now I’m winging it. We’ll see how this goes.

Today’s Word Count: 2,380
Total Word Count: 52,610
Today’s Page Count: 7
Total Page Count: 167

Words, Words, Words

Tuesday Writings…

 

Snoopy

 

 

The picture today explains the way I feel about my NaNo novel this year. Of course, I tend to love everything that I write, but this year I feel as though I’m really going to win NaNo. I have never once won the November NaNo and I really believe this is going to be the year.

I love this novel so far mostly because I’m falling in love with my characters. None of them have the personality that I originally planned on them having, but they’re lovable, anyway.

My two main characters, Detective George Florence and Lilah Williams are still only acquaintances right now, but I can see them getting closer and closer to each other as each word gets written. And no, before anyone takes that the wrong way, George and Lilah are not going to end up together into a romantic relationship. They’re going to be friends and work partners and that’s it. It’s more like a big brother–little sister relationship. And Lilah is one really annoying little sister.

This morning I got about two hours of writing in and wrote 3,342 words on my novel. I’m still ahead of the game and I’m going to try my absolute best to keep it that way.

Yesterday I said I was going to start writing five pages a day, well I actually wrote about ten pages this morning. So I’m excited about that.

This novel is going really well: the characters are awesome, the plot is moving right along, and instead of writer’s block I keep coming up with more ideas for the novel (and the whole series). I really hope this blog post doesn’t jinx me, either!

I hope everyone else doing NaNo is doing just as well and is in love with their novels, too! Because the whole point of NaNo is to do something you love. And it’s kind of hard to do that when you’re not cooing over your characters and excited about new plot twists and turns!

If you want to read the summary to my NaNo novel, click here: Detective Florence (Book One)
If you want to add me as a Writing Buddy on NaNoWriMo, click here: Fiery_Sapphire
If you want to add my sister Kris as a Writing Buddy on NaNoWriMo, click here: Winged_Spirit

Today’s Word Count: 3,342
Total Word Count: 17,370