My JourneyPearls of (Almost) Wisdom

Well, This Is Awkward

Here’s the thing, and I’m just going to get it out there: I don’t consider myself an indie author. This is not to say that I consider myself above indie authors or that I feel like I am too good to call myself indie (just read about my “Journey to Publication” in the sidebar and you’ll see that I’m no better than ANYONE else).

Yeah, I self-published my first novel, but only because it went through every major pub house in the country and slipped through every single editor’s fingers.

I self-published it because I loved it, because I’d worked on it for two solid years, because all those editors told me it was good–just not the right book at the right time. Not the right book for them. Not quite what they were looking for.

I didn’t self-publish it because I wanted to be a self-published or independent author.


In fact, I was telling my friend Melissa just the other day that, in many ways, I respect self-pubbed/indie authors more than traditionally published ones because they have to work SO much harder on marketing and promotion, and they really have to go into it with a heart of steel because that, my friends, is a tough battle. It’s hard enough to be a successful author when you have an entire pub house behind you. It’s nearly impossible when you don’t.

Self-publishing, for me, is something I’m doing while I continue to pursue traditional publication. There’s lots of value in the self-publishing process and I’m glad I did it; it is SO fun to hear someone say, “I’m reading your book!” and even more fun to hear people say they loved it. After all, that’s the whole point of writing for me: to share my stories with others in the hope that it entertains them.

But at the end of the day, self-publishing isn’t “it” for me.

So here’s the reason all this is so awkward.

Right after I put THE CLEARING up for sale, several writer friends of mine did the same. I don’t know that they did it because of me, necessarily, but I do know that every single one of them contacted me and asked detailed questions about the process, what I would have done differently, if I felt like this was a good move, etc.

So I’m positive that, at the very least, I had some kind of influence on their decision.

And they have all been SO sweet to post articles about me on their blogs, which I appreciate more than they’ll ever know. They’ve been SO kind to interview me, review the  book, and support me in every way possible.

Seriously: I COULD NOT BE MORE GRATEFUL for their encouragement.

But there’s a caveat here (am I using that word correctly?) between the result of that publicity and my own goals: Slowly but surely, I’m taking on the label of “self-published author.”

NOT a bad label to have . . . as long as that’s the label you want.

I’m going on submission with PULL sometime in the fall or early winter, Lord willing. And what doesn’t need to happen is this: Editor X receives my book from the lovely Agent Alanna. Editor X reads my book. Editor X loves my book and wants to buy it for publication.

Then, Editor X does a Google search on me and finds a whole bunch of stuff about how I’m an indie author. This isn’t bad exactly, but it could give the impression that I’m not all that interested in traditional publication. It could give the impression that I’m one of those authors who will use a pub house for the initial platform and then, once I’ve made a name for myself, will bail out and self-publish everything so I can get more royalties.

Which I would NEVER, EVER DO.

So, to recap:

1) My first novel, though well-received by editors, did not sell.

2) I self-published said novel for the express purpose of giving people a way to read it if they wanted to. I have never stressed over sales numbers, never put much effort into self-promotion, never sweated over Amazon rankings because this isn’t something I’m doing for real, if that makes sense.

3) People are starting to view me as an indie author, even though

4) I’m still pursuing traditional publication and don’t want editors to be conflicted over my feelings or motivations.

Now, having said all that, let me say this: If traditional publication never works out for me, I will continue to self-publish my books. But I highly doubt it will ever be Step One. I doubt I’ll ever go that route first. And I kinda feel bad about how many people have looked to me for guidance when all the while I’m not really “all in” with this thing. I kind of feel like the ship captain that everyone assumed loved the ship with all his heart, and then one day the crew finds out his dream is to fly airplanes.

Or something.

Anyway, I hope that clears up any confusion about who I am and what I do. Just to make sure you didn’t miss it, I’m NOT dissing self-pubbed or indie authors. I hold them in very high esteem.

But I don’t consider myself a self-published author; I consider myself an aspiring author who self-published her first novel for anyone who would like to read it.

What about you? What are your goals? Pursuing traditional, or going the indie route? If you are indie/self-pubbed, how did you get there and where are you going from here?

12 thoughts on “Well, This Is Awkward

  1. Wow, I hear you. That would be *Awkward*.

    The biggest problem I have with this issue is your obvious sense that you need to keep reiterating that you’re not dissing indie authors. I get that too. And it’s sad that there’s this line writers feel they have to draw in the sand. That if you aren’t for us, you’re against us.

    I don’t feel that way. And I’m glad to meet someone else whose goals reflect mine. Keep going. And don’t worry – my understanding is that editor’s attitudes towards self-publishing are changing dramatically and quickly. So chances are, you won’t have to worry about it.

    Good luck with your submissions this year!


    1. Thanks Aimee! Yes, I’m always very careful to reassure people that I’m not trying to be condescending toward those who are career authors via self-publishing. And I think you’re right that attitudes are changing. Good thing! There are some wonderful self-pubbed authors out there!

  2. I am currently represented by an agent and shopping one novel for traditional publication. I have several other projects in various stages of development and would readily self-pub those or any other work. The industry is changing rapidly and no one can say where it will be in six months, a year, three years. Regardless of how you publish, you are the master of your career and should always explore and be open to all options. What works today for one project may not work in the future for another project. There are too many factors that go into being a successful author — fighting amongst ourselves should not be one of them.

    1. That’s great that you have an agent! You’re so right that things are changing quickly and that it’s smart to be open to anything. And I totally agree–authors should not look down on each other for any reason, especially for the route they’ve taken to getting their story out there.

  3. I am releasing my first novel through an “indie” publisher. I feel priviledged to be able to work with them. It would be nice to find a larger publisher for my second book, every author can dream. But if I can’t get one, fine, I’ll stay with indie.

    1. That’s great! Congratulations! I’m kind of the same way; if big publishers don’t work out, I’ll go small or self-pubbed. Good luck on the release of your book!

  4. There are several things about this post that I find interesting… but rather than comment on them, I think I’d rather just say that everybody has to follow the route that is right for them… regardless of what the world thinks they should do. Exhaust all your opportunities and then in the end, do what works for you and your skill set. You did what you needed to do. You are fortunate to have an agent when so many don’t and perhaps that has given you a bit more confidence than most who do step into self-publishing. Consider it a blessing that you have a bit more support in this industry already. 🙂 Whatever happens, one can only hope that our experiences make us better people, better writers, and ultimately satisfied with the fruits of our labor!

    1. Thanks Krissi! I’d be interested to hear your thoughts that you didn’t write down. Might send you an email…

  5. I hear you! I have a list of publishers (big and small) that accept manuscripts directly from authors, but with the exception of ONE of them, I have never submitted anything to a publisher, even though that might be a logical next step after exhausting my list of agents to query. The reason I haven’t is because I feel like my PERSONAL journey would go better if I wait until I can get an agent–I’m not very outgoing, I’m painfully introverted, and though I have no doubt I could do the self-marketing thing if the time came (because I, too, will find another route if it seems like agents/the more traditional way isn’t working for me) I just know I don’t have the kind of personality to go to a conference and come back with 50 new friends. Maybe 3 new friends, but not 50.

    This is my long-winded way of saying I understand you. Not every path on this journey is right for everyone–I just read an article about a woman who had been self-publishing, and then who got a deal with a big pub, and one she was done with that deal with the pub, she’d been so frustrated working with them that she went back to self-pubbing.

    1. It’s such an individual thing, and I don’t think one way is better over another… they’re just different, and they come with their own set of pros and cons! And if the agent doesn’t work out, I think self/indie is a great route for you to go–especially with the solid internet foundation you’ve built for yourself!

  6. I’ve self-published two books (as you know) and have plans to self-publish at least two more. However, I consider traditional publication still very much an option down the road. Right now I’m just trying to build a loyal audience and some sort of fan base. Convincing people that self-published books are not “bad” is what I find most difficult about the whole process. I work my hiney off trying to earn the respect of my readers, and there are many days I just want to throw my hands up in defeat. There are many days I cry because I feel like I’m shouting into a great abyss and no one is listening. It’s a lash to one’s self-esteem when you have the support of only a few friends and no one “in the business” to say you’ve got what it takes.

    1. I totally know what you mean. There is still a struggle against the stigma, which is unfortunate because there are so many great authors out there who don’t have the support of a big pub house. I think you are doing a great job of building a fan base, but it does take time, which is the most frustrating part for me!

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