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Introducing A New Feature For Indie Authors: “My Self-publishing Journey”

Introducing a New Feature for Indie Authors: “My Self-publishing Journey”

weathervane2What led you to become a self-published author?

As Commissioning Editor of this blog, I'm always looking for new ideas to feature, and one jumped out at me at the recent annual Dublin Writers' Conference. The conference included a joint talk on the topic of how to self-publish successfully by a trio of ALLi author members, Ben Galley, Jessica Bell and me. It was chaired by ALLi Partner member Laurence O'Bryan, director of the conference and of book marketing service BooksGoSocial.

Selfie of Ben, Jessica and Debbie

Ben, Jessica and Debbie

We began the talk with a brief introduction explaining how each of the four of us had become a self-published author, and three things struck me:

  • we had all come from different directions and career paths before alighting upon self-publishing
  • our arrival had been fortuitous, each of us using words such as “stumbled upon” or “fell into”
  • our careers going forward, all as indie authors, are also likely to be very different, writing in different genres

How interesting, I thought, to stop the talk now, and just ask Ben, Jessica and Laurence in more detail about their self-publishing journeys!

But of course the show had to go on…

Montage of photos

Action shots from the conference, courtesy of Jessica Bell

These questions that I'd like to have asked them will now form the basis for a new occasional series on the ALLi Author Advice Centre blog entitled “My Self-publishing Journey”:

  • Where did you first learn about self-publishing?
  • What was your first self-published book, and when and how did you publish it?
  • Name three things you know now about self-publishing that you wish you'd known then
  • What has been your biggest surprise as a self-published author?
  • What is your proudest achievement as an indie author?
  • How do you describe yourself and your books – self-published, indie, or something else?
  • What are your future ambitions as an author?
  • How different do you think the self-publishing landscape will be in five years' time?

This series will demonstrate the diversity, the drive, the ambition and the talent within the self-publishing community, and I'm planning to feature a diverse range of authors across many genres and from around the world. I'm interested in hearing from any authors who have an interesting story to tell about their own self-publishing journey, regardless of where they are in their career. This will be in addition to our long-running “How I Do It” feature from super-successful indies already at the top of their game.

If you'd like to feature in the Self-publishing Journey strand, please leave a comment below, with a one-sentence summary of your self-publishing career. Even if you're not chosen for an interview, I'm sure our readers will enjoy your comments, and I'm looking forward to reading them.

ALLi Round Pen LogoPlease note: Our policy for guests on this blog is that only ALLi members may be featured – just one of many benefits of membership. To find out more about all advantages of of belonging to ALLi, click here.





This Post Has 32 Comments
  1. Four years ago, I was a novelist with an agent and a string of rejections from major publishers when I chose to become a self-published author. Today, I have been voted one of the top authors on Long Island for two consecutive years, and my debut novel, BABY GRAND, was an honorable mention, genre fiction, in Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards, with a sequel on the way this month. Yay, self-publishing. 🙂

  2. Love to. Got close to Big 5, got fed up with ‘luck of the draw’ element and took control – after years of mentoring entrepreneurs the attitude must have rubbed off! Two years later: will have six books out, got a grant to be Writer in Residence at the British Library for a year and a fully-funded PhD in Creative Writing starting this autumn, couldn’t be happier!

  3. I have just joined ALLi’s Author Advice blog and I am waiting to submit my first true story it is scary for me as I have always wanted to write but never had the courage to force myself to publish any of my writing

    being new to this site and I hope to learn from others

  4. I’d love to take part. I wouldn’t have been able to publish without the help and advice of other writers. I first published in 2011 and tore my hair out trying to get the first book online. Since then I’ve published 9 novel. One was taken up by Lake Union Publishing who found one of my self-published novels and asked to publish it. The follow-up was released this year. I went self-published because I realised that the only gatekeepers who really mattered weren’t agents or publishers but readers. It was and is the steepest learning curve I’ve ever been through. And I love it.

  5. I’d like to take part. I became an indie author in 2011 after getting an idea for a YA fantasy short story, which I thought was ideal for an ebook. I’ve since completed that series, written 3 MG short stories and several adult magical realism stories/novelletes, to finally finding what my true voice is with autism meeting magical realism for children.

  6. I would like to take part. I’ve self-published 6 novels via s-p, beginning over 30 years ago. I began with Vanity press (1988) and more or less ended with a sequel to Vanity Fair (2012). Just completed a book on language and working on a memoir. Also promoter of The Quagga Prize, now in its fourth year and booming.

  7. I’d like to be part of this. With 2 novels out, I feel I am still on the journey, making alterations to how I go about it. Having lost my original production team (well qualified family members) I’m looking for alternatives such as SIlverwood Books and at present need to revise the website and work on branding.

  8. I’d like to be part of this. With 2 novels out, I am still learning – and having lost my original team of production experts am looking around to change things a bit as well as considering using helps like Silverwood Books this time around. I came into Indie publishing because (like someone else who’s article I just discovered in Mslexia magazine) my serious novel writing began when I was already 50 and didn’t feel that sending a book around for maybe 5-10years would be a great way to get anything published.

  9. Hi Debbie, I’d be keen to be part of this. I’ve mastered so many disciplines in my quest to become a bestselling indie author. And after lots of iterations and tweaks, distilling all the conflicting advice and applying the right best practice, I’ve got there and am now giving back as much as I can to others on the journey. But all the way through I should have been working on harder on the next book, because I now have a great platform with nowhere near enough inventory! But that will change soon with the next book’s launch, and the one after, and so on…

  10. Two friends had self published so I knew a little about it. I decided to try it myself when a blog post went viral and I thought it would make a good subject for a book. I crowdfunded to test the market, raise some capital (as I knew my book would sell better in hard back than ebook) and give me a much-needed deadline. It worked. I sold 750 copies of first book in its first 3 weeks (helped by it being before Xmas and 230 of those were to pledgers) but a great start. I’m launching my third book in September (and an Irish national newspaper is launching it for me at an event).

  11. My entry to self-publishing was on the advice of an agent who was also a friend. I’d been traditionally published after winning the Dundee International Book Prize, but the publisher passed on the next book because they weren’t taking on any new books for the next 2 years. this was at a time when publishing seemed to be in a slump. I approached an author/agent who was also a friend, although I knew he wasn’t taking on new authors. He advised me to publish on Kindle, quoting his own successes and offering help and advice if needed. I published Night Watcher and have never looked back. I now have the Dundee Crime Series, and the Kirsty Campbell series, and after getting back the rights of my traditionally published novel, I published that as well and am now totally Indie.

  12. Hi Debbie I’m happy to share my experiences of being a self publishing ‘pioneer’ from the early days of ebook formatting using HTML to enjoying the benefits of international best-sellers – and the lessons learned on the way!

  13. One weekend in Melbourne (September 2015) changed my life, showed me the disadvantages of choosing the dark side of publishing, took me down the indie path, and now here I am three books later, a self-confessed maniac championing the cause.

  14. I, too, would enjoy sharing about this self-publishing trip–but I can’t look back yet, just ahead, since my first book comes out this September; meanwhile, I am holding on for the ride with what seems like more than two hands, as the one in the driver’s and the passenger’s seat both.

  15. My independent publishing career has just begun, with NaNoWriMo to draft my novel in 2014, a year away from my usual teaching to bring it to full maturity and publish in January 2016 after an unsuccessful Kindle Scout campaign, two Kindle Countdown deals bringing me into the black (in cash flow) by the second quarter of 2016, a beautiful illustrated paperback published in February 2016 and dozens of copies sold online and out of hand and to two museums in the area in which the novel is set, and last week the amazing if ephemeral attainment that my Kindle Historical Fiction ranked me as the #76 bestselling author in that category, one slot ahead of Stephen King! I owe ALLi a debt of gratitude for much of my steep education climb the last eighteen months – sorry for the second sentence to say so. 🙂

  16. This sounds like an excellent series and would create a great sense of community for those indie authors who may feel they’re the “only ones” to walk the path they’re on. For example, I’m a single parent with a full-time day job–not exactly the kind of lifestyle that provides a lot of free time for writing. And yet, here I am. Likely, however, I am not the only writer in this situation. I would be happy to guest blog from that perspective. And I promise, if you would like a guest post, I won’t mention anything about changing diapers!

    I think you’re on to something very promising, Debbie.


  17. Although stricken with anxiety (and a side order of mild depression) that often reached Woody Allen proportions, I remained determined to write and publish a book about my post-divorce dating adventures.

  18. Hi Debbie,

    I would be delighted to share my self-publishing journey moving from author of two textbook series with major publishers to indie author of twelve books across several genres.

  19. One sentence: I have written 11 novels, both adult and young adult, acquired a tireless and supportive agent seven years ago, still have not hit the traditional big-time, and have self-pubbed two from my backlist with more to come while my agent continues to shop my work. : )

    2nd sentence: Thank you for this.

  20. Had it not been for the opportunity self publishing offered I would never written my family history-based book, knowing no traditional publisher would take on anything with such a limited readership. Hoorah!

  21. I’d enjoy chatting more about my journey if the opportunity arose, because I’m keen to help others avoid some of the early mistakes I made when I started out.

    I chose the self-publishing journey as I was impatient to start work on my next novel – I’d received great feedback from agents about my first novel but all came back with the comment that “It’s not what our publishing clients are looking for right now”. In 2011/12 when I first published that novel, self-publishing was still seen as traditional publishing’s poorer cousin.

    Now, I run a flourishing business – seven books out, foreign translation rights sold in Italy for that first book of mine to a traditional publisher, self-published audiobooks on the way, and a list as long as my arm of what I want to achieve this year and beyond.

    Looking forward, I think publishing is going to be more of a hybrid beast – authors choosing a mixture of indie/traditional publishing outlets depending on their goals and what markets are open to them. It’s a great time to be an indie author.

  22. Sign me up for the interview on the self-publishing journey. My first book was published with a traditional publisher. It was a non-fiction corporate biography. When I decided to write a trilogy of fictional novels I opted to go it alone because I wanted to have more control over the process–the editing, the cover design, etc. The only downside has been the amount of time I have had to devote to marketing my books. That takes me away from writing. Sorry, I went on a bit here.

  23. I would love to take part. So far I’ve self published as a duo under the pen name Amos Cassidy and have recently branched out and published my solo debut Forest of Denons which was picked up by the publisher Kindle Press after I ran a kindle scout campaign.

  24. Hey, I’d love to contribute. My first few books were pubbed by MacAdam-Cage and HarperCollins. The industry went pear-shaped, I got my rights back, and the rest is history. I still ghostwrite for Big 5, but when it comes to my own books, I’m a creative control freak. 🙂

  25. Hi,

    Like others, I rather fell into self-publishing. Despite no initial plan of action, in 2012, one of my two books at the time caught the interest of readers. Fast forward four years, and I’ve sold well over 100,000 books in scifi, milfic, paranormal, and historical fiction.

    I know you wanted only one sentence, but I’ll add a little more. Back in 1978 in Des Moines, my brother took me to a science fiction convention. I met Gordie Dickson, and during a lunch, I sat next to an honest-to-goodness writer, a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Since then, I’ve longed to be a member, but I never saw a realistic path to achieve it. With the advent of indie-publishing, and after a change in SWFA’s rules last year, I became the second indie accepted into the organization.

  26. I’d love to be part of this. I just started self publishing January 1 and have since won several awards, including Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews; on July 25 I’ll be celebrating the release of my fourth novel.

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