Publishing Options – my indie-author story – Part 1

This is my story about how I became a self-published indie author. It’s not about the right way – if there is such a thing – or the wrong way, it’s simply what I did.

Two things sent me down the indie path. One, I am a genealogist and have a bucket load of stories. The other was when I went to University 15 years ago as a mature student. I studied English, Creative Writing, Women’s Literature, and Adult education, graduating with a MA with First Class Honours. My tutors repeatedly told me I wrote well and should publish. I had the skills they assured me.

I also had a story to write – a family story that had intrigued me for years.

With the help of my writing group, five years later my first book was ready. Daniel – a non-fiction biographical narrative.

I enquired about publishers, researched the best options and studiously followed the instructions on the relevant websites. I was rejected – several times. Not because my writing was bad, or because the book didn’t measure up – nobody knew because nobody read it.

I was rejected, they said, because: No one reads fiction any more, not even historical fiction, and no one is interested in New Zealand history. (Said in several different ways, but it all boiled down to mean the same thing).

I didn’t believe them.

I believe it was because Publishers were no longer accepting unsolicited manuscripts. If they didn’t already know you, they didn’t want to know you. Simple as that. The market had changed, the field had opened up and nobody knew what to do.

At that moment I had to decide what I wanted to do next. Why did I wanted to publish my story?

Did I want to be an amateur, a casual participant with anecdotes reminiscing about the past or a professional story teller and history maker?

I decided this story needed an audience beyond the family. ‘Daniel’ was about pioneering New Zealand and the birth of a nation.

But I didn’t have a clue about how to go about it. So again, with the help of my writing group – Mairangi Writers – I went searching for ways to go about it.

This is what I found out:

To be a professional indie-author means you are in business. You are in the business of selling – firstly yourself as an author, then your books. You are in charge of everything – the budget, the timing, the look of the product, the mood of the cover design, the images and the title of the book – and there are no short cuts. Quality is the key and paramount to every decision you make.

If you are going to get upset, angry and offended when someone says something about your precious collection of words – then don’t become a professional author.

If you are prepared to learn, to grow and develop because of what people say – and put in the hard work, then give it a go. Being an indie author means flexibility. E-books, print books, large print versions, images, whatever you want. You can make it happen.

Not long ago I found this definition of what it means to be an indie-author. It’s one of the best I have ever come across:

Being an independent author is an approach to writing and publishing, a matter of self-definition. If you see yourself as the creative director of your books, from concept to completion and beyond, then you’re indie.’

Orna Ross, The Alliance of Independent Authors –

Since those days, back in 2010, when I received those first rejection  letters, I have celebrated the fact I was not accepted. I have enjoyed my journey every step of the way.

I write because it is my passion, my joy, and I have published a book every year since then.

I didn’t believe them then and I don’t believe them now. I am published, I am selling, I am successful in my own way because of it. I have readers who enjoy the stories I write and tell me so. I have some who don’t and I’m okay with that. You can’t please everyone, but there are opportunities out there waiting for you to grasp them.

You have the choice – you have the control – Go for it.

Next week – some resources to help you. Sign up on my home page to get my blog directly to your inbox.

  1. Jean Day
    Jean Day11-24-2014

    “Daniel” is well researched and well written. I enjoyed it, and wanted more.

  2. James B. Shannon
    James B. Shannon12-24-2014

    Some very inspirational advice. Thanks for sharing.

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