By A.C. James
We all know the digital revolution has opened doors that were previously closed to writers who have now become authors and entrepreneurs that have written their own ticket to success.

The tides are a changing whether traditional publishing is ready to acknowledge and embrace the shift or not.

A couple weeks ago a fellow author, Kathy Kulig, passed along a link provided by Shoshanna Evers.

The link provided a free pdf download of Successful Self-Publishing—How We Do It (And How You Can Too!).

While most of the information contained in the book I had already learned either through trial and error, blogs I read, or other books I’ve read, I found the stories from the various authors that contributed to be compelling reasons to venture into indie publishing.

It’s something that I’ve been weighing and considering for some time. I tested the waters with a short story just to experience the process and see if I could achieve visibility with a KDP Select free promo.

This choice made sense for someone like me with a very small readership and fledgling online presence.

My results surprised me.

I never expected an erotic paranormal scene that was only 3K to be downloaded over 2,700 times. I certainly didn’t expect it to take #2, #3, and #4 in three categories. I did expect it to sink as soon as the promo was over because let’s face it—it’s a quickie that I wrote so readers would discover my style and peak their interest in an upcoming series.

It was an enlightening and exhilarating experiment. And I loved every minute of it.

In fact, the one thing that I am quickly finding that I love the most about indie publishing is a sense of community, of being in it together, and learning from each other. In that spirit we share resources and information.

Recently, I started a heated discussion on a local author loop that I’m part of quite accidentally.

I’m opinionated. I say things. I play devil’s advocate.

Someone recently published through a very new small press that I deliberately steered clear of because they couldn’t offer me anything that I couldn’t do on my own. Their scary website targeted writers rather than putting books into the hands of readers. Part of their sales pitch involved teaching me how to market myself.

No thank you.

And all I really said was: “Are you sure you want to do that?” Or something like that anyway.

But boy did that open a can of worms.

One argument a member of the group brought up was that getting the green light by traditional NY publishing or a small press meant that your writing was up to snuff. You were ready to share your manuscript with the world.

I didn’t argue her point because there is some validity in that premise given the pile of slush on Amazon—books with no editing, self-editing, shoddy editing, ugly and unprofessional covers, poorly written blurbs, or self-defeating titles.

However, I’ve seen the same with some traditionally published books.

But Donna McDonald pointed out something in Successful Self-Publishingthat I couldn’t agree with more:

“…I can’t believe I ever spent time waiting for anyone in the business part of my industry to provide validation of my craft and/or permission for me to make a living from it. I could make a list of great advice I’ve gotten from other Indies. Nothing is more profound than the idea that only readers can decide if you’re good enough AND that the way they do it is with sales.


That’s a point that I think traditional publishing is having flaunted in their faces with marketing departments that claim they can’t justify buying a manuscript because they can’t sell it.

Fed-up and done with rejection, authors take that unsellable manuscript and publish it themselves by hiring their own editor, cover artist, formatter, and marketing it themselves.

Those sales then get split between their distributor (Amazon, Nook Press, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords) and the author.

A more fair and equitable royalty proportion, especially with e-books, when traditional publishers can really only offer a better network for paper distribution and larger marketing budget.

Readers decide what’s good and what they’re willing to pay for. And this leaves agents and publishers that once rejected the manuscript without a dime.

I could wait two years to start my career.

That’s how long (minimum) it could take to find an agent, have them sell my manuscript, and then work with an editor and publisher who crank books out too slowly.

I could get an editor at a publishing house that barely does any editing at all. (Not all but some.)

I could get stuck with a cover that sinks sales.

I could give up a huge chunk of my royalties.

All when I’d have to market the hell out of my book whether it’s traditionally published or I did it myself.

But why?

I’m finding that I’m having a harder and harder time justifying the wait. And I’m having a hell of a lot more fun interacting with readers and writers while controlling all the aspects of publishing—controlling my career.

Sink or swim. It’s all up to you.

4 thoughts on “Successful Self-Publishing… Yes, We Can!

  1. Thrilled you enjoyed Successful Self-Publishing! As a hybrid author, I’m keeping my toes in both indie and traditional waters for now. But having complete control over my indie books is the BEST thing ever! 🙂 Good luck with your books!

  2. I’m considering submitting something small to EC just so that I can grow a readership, have traditional publishing credit as it may help with indie publishing.

  3. I enjoyed the column on self publishing. I agree with everyting you said. I honestly can’t see why anyone would NOT go indie -or self published or do the ebook route. I sold a book to doubleday and robert hale in england a long time ago and I know the kind of support authors without a name got way back when. Now it may be that I’m simply not that good a writer because I couldn’t do it again, but starting over at an advanced age I wind up with 5 ebooks on barnes, smashwords amazon and kobo. I’m making money – not a ton but basically i’m doing no paid advertising and I have no real expenses so every penny is profit doing something I’d do for free anyway. AND, while my writing may be crap because there’s no way any writer can say with certainty that they are indeed good, at least I know there are people all over the world – literally on six continents because I have no record of anyone in
    antarctica following me – that do like my work and are actually willing to pay real money to read it. Now, if somebody from one of the REAL publishing houses called me one day and said we love your work and want to make you the next robert ludlum, i have to admit that i would sucumb and let myself be seduced into the conventional publishing world. Old dreams never die. BUT i’m happy with my current writing life that allows me to put my work out for anyone to see, and a guarantee that it will outlive and not be tucked away into some dusty library shelf or thrown in the trash by great-great grands after I’m gone. This is THE golden age for writers.

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