Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The exciting, fantastic, terrifying road of self-publishing

Having found myself more seriously considering self-publishing as of late, I've taken a great interest in other self-published authors. Some seem to have had great success and great experiences and I'm so excited for them. 

Rummaging through the overwhelming amount of books on smashwords, Trouble by Jamie Campbell caught my eye.  I'm not usually one who goes for short stories and was quite disappointed that it was only thirty-some pages, as I wanted to continue reading, but the story was enjoyable and intriguing nonetheless. 

Cover for 'Trouble'

Did you seek agent representation before self-publishing? If so, how many queries did you send before deciding to take a different route?
I'm always seeking agent representation, I have a few of my favourite books that I'm holding onto for that elusive golden ticket. So far I've probably sent over two dozen queries. Querying is part of my process, just as much as self-publishing.

Only two dozen queries?  I've heard so many stories of the 47th agent, the 61st agent, the 72nd agent finally being the one.  I wonder how many is too many?

What made you decide to self publish? 
I really wanted to get my stories out there. The thought of people reading my books and enjoying them made me unbearably happy so I thought, why not? The industry is starting to lose the stigma attached to self-publishing and I think it's a great way to connect directly with readers. Writer's write for the readers, not the publishers.

Well said, I agree.  I believe most writers want to have their work read and enjoyed.  Of course the added bonus of money coming in would be lovely, but at the end of the day, I think it's more about creating something that others can enjoy.

And where did you self-publish?
I self-published with Createspace which then led me to ebooks. I now publish with Amazon and Smashwords, who in turn allow me to access iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and a plethora of other retailers. I always get a thrill when I see my books amongst others on the iBook shelf.
Did you do it all yourself, including the cover art? Or did you have help from friends or professionals?
I did it all myself. I enjoyed the challenge and I couldn't invest too much money into it. Now, after being in the business for a little while, I'm starting to outsource parts of it. My next full length novels will have covers created by graphic designers, but I still enjoy being a part of the design process. That's one of the great things about self-publishing, you can have full control and you make all the decisions yourself.

Again, I agree.  I've recently discovered that when publishing through a traditional publisher, when it comes to the cover art, the author has little or no say.  :(  I'm not so sure I think that's fair.

For me it seems like a bit of a daunting task, did you have any difficulties? Or was it easier than one would think?
It seemed daunting at first but writing is what I live for so I just had to do it. I read numerous books about it, scoured the website instructions, and tested it all before I actually began. Once I had done my first novel, it became much easier. Now, I consider it an easy process and actually enjoy it.

That's certainly encouraging.  The good ol' tried and true, practice makes perfect.

Did you do anything to promote your book?
I'm always promoting my book. Always. You have to connect with the readers which can be difficult in such a large marketplace that is already swamped with books. Not a day goes by when I don't do some kind of marketing - it's much harder than actually writing the book!

This is an important thing to consider.  Once you've finished writing the book, depending on what your desires and dreams are for the journey of your novel, your job might not be over yet.

Would you take on an agent if they offered representation now?
Yes. I'm at that point now where I'm ready to get back to just writing and leaving the rest to someone else. It would be lovely to say 'talk to my people'.

I've noticed on smashwords that you had other books as well, which was your first manuscript? Or is it not published?
My first manuscript was "Ashes to Ashes", which I have recently made available on Smashwords and Amazon (it was previously published in hard copy format only by a third party).

How long does it take you to write each book? I know this can vary greatly so maybe you're favourite or your first?
Each book normally takes about two months. I write every single day without fail. I set myself a word threshold of 1,000 words and cannot quit until that's done. Yet then I reach that word count and continue on anyway. I enjoy writing immensely so if I'm not writing, I'm thinking about my plot or characters.

Wow!  Two months!  I'm not even done editing and revising within two months!  Great dedication spawns greatness.

Do you have your work professionally edited?
I have a proof reader who helps get all the bugs out. I also have a group of people who read my books before I publish to ensure they make sense and are enjoyable. I edit my books at least four times before I'm satisfied they can be fit to send out into the world.  

How many different critique partners did you have?
I entrust my books to a few people who give me honest feedback. None of them are writers so they focus more on the plot and characters rather than writing structure. If they like the books, then I proceed.

This is a very smart idea.  I think many writers are so used to hanging out in writing circles, their critique partners are generally writers also, which certainly helps.  But having a pair of non-writer's eyes on your manuscript is definitely a good idea since they'd be able to offer critique from a different point of view.

How much success have you had with your self-publishing. Do you know how many copies you've sold?
Let's just say that sales are directly correlated with the amount of time I put in. If I'm not actively out there marketing, then no sales magically appear. It's the whole adage of you only get out what you put in.

Oh, with the exception of my short stories that I list for free - they "sell" like hotcakes!

Lol, very true, I myself am guilty of greedily gobbling up almost as many free books as my eyes land upon.

If you could change the way things have gone with your writing career, is there anything you would change?
It would have been nice to get published the traditional way immediately. My goal is to get on the best seller list so it's a long and windy road without already having established a name for yourself. I'll still get there, it will just take me a little longer.

Love the positive attitude!  I think we all need to hold this belief and just keep pushing on. 

Jamie Campbell has several different books out at the moment, Ashes to Ashes, Gifted, and two free short stories.  I thoroughly enjoyed Trouble, the plot was very interesting and left me curious to find out just what was going to happen.  I encourage you to take a look and have a read.  Sending a hard-working writer all the best wishes of success for her future!


  1. Thanks for having me, Jessica. I'm so glad you enjoyed Trouble.

  2. No problem Jamie. I'm glad to do my part in helping authors on their career path.

  3. Hi Jessica, I came acros syour blog because I am doing the A2Z challenge. For what it is worth, I self-published some work and then also published some short stories for other writers as well - and I think as long as you go into it with the attitude that it is meant to be fun - then it really is well worth doing. There is nothing that can't be done with a bit of creativity and lateral thinking - as an example - I had an artist friend do some covers for me, my daughter (who is 9) did a cover, and I created one by scanning the image from a guitar shoulder strap - would you believe it. It is a lot of fun to create something - and I always think it is better to have something out there rather than to just (metaphorically) have another manuscriupt gathering dust under the bed. It is well worth doing - just don't expect to retire on the proceeds!

  4. Hi Richard, thanks for stopping by. I'd love to have a look at what you wrote, where did you self-publish? I love your positive attitude about it too, that's how you have to be in order to buckle down and get it done. And that's adorable that your daughter did a cover for you! How meaningful! Have fun with A-Z, I'll try to stop by to check out your posts :)

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