Thursday, April 21, 2011

A little like being naked—a lot like being liberated

The first time I thought about self-publishing as a viable next step in my career, I felt—as my seven-year-old would say—a little sickish. It’s a little like walking naked through the literary community with a sign on my back that says, “Pick me apart.” Did it mean I failed in traditional publishing? Would the writing community scoff at me? Shun me? Should I continue to target traditional publishers, start something new and just bury my current manuscripts? Why was I contemplating something still so often synonymous with “vanity press?”
As I often do when faced with a crossroads, I went into heavy research mode—a couple of months’ worth. The information available is abundant, and at times, overwhelming. But here’s my take on self-publishing.
What self-publishing is not:
Not a “F*%! You” to traditional publishing.
Not a way to validate my skills as a writer—this should be established way before contemplating this step.
Not a way to make a quick buck.
Not a way to get my name out there—although that is often a benefit being published, the focus needs to be on sharing a quality book.
Not a short cut to publication—there is more risk and work associated with self-publishing than traditional routes.
Not an alternative to skilled revision and editing—all writers should strive to grow in their craft and to publish the best manuscripts possible.
Not an indication that I’ve failed as a writer.
It’s not an either/or career decision. I can self-publish one manuscript or series and still shop other projects with agents and editors.
Not easy.

What self-publishing is:
A viable way to take a next step—a step I’m qualified to make—in my career.
A more agile timeline than traditional publishing houses. (I’ll elaborate on that in the future—when I focus on the rationale for my literary project release.)
A viable means of sharing quality books with readers.
Hard work! To be successful, I must wear lots of professional hats.

Biggest Fears:
Book not edited properly, polished enough or formatted correctly.
Not having the capacity to promote/market book as needed.
Getting in over my head.
Inadvertently alienating those in mainstream publishing.
Becoming “that writer” who does nothing but promote their projects.
Making very public mistakes.

So why do it?
Sometimes a manuscript (even a very good one) cannot find the right fit in traditional publishing.
Often it’s timing—a genre or subject has trended and is on the decline; the big publishers have bought up their projects, editors don’t want it, agents can’t sell it. It may be equally as good as or even better than similar books coming out, but the timing isn’t right. It’s too late.
I know I’m a good writer with a fantastic story to tell.
I have a strong corporate background in sales and marketing that I can leverage.
Most importantly, I have an AMAZING village behind me—a supportive writers’ group, my critique partners, past Golden Heart and RITA finalists, authors, bloggers, booksellers, friends and most importantly, my family. I am surrounded by people who believe not only in my stories, but my ability to take on the role of publisher. I am truly blessed. J
The conclusion: For different yet equally compelling reasons, self-publishing is perfect for two of my finished projects—my young adult supernatural series THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE GUARDIAN (5/24) and my stand-alone literary fiction novel ECHOES OF NEVERLAND (8/9).
The more I contemplate the journey ahead of me, the more that sickish sensation dissipates. For the first time, I feel in control of my career and very excited!!! After all, I’m releasing my first novel on May 24, 2011.
As my good friend and fellow author, Erika O’Rourke, often reminds me, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”  I will be blogging about my experience, and anyone who wants to ride the waves with me is most welcome.
Release date: eBook 5/24; trade paperback 6/21
The big cover reveal: Thursday 4/28.
Mood:             Excited and a little sickish

Next post: 4/25
Steps (for weekend 4/22-24): Figure out/set up my author presence & upcoming project on Amazon (maybe B&N); research POD (print on demand) providers & costs; finalize production schedule; decide whether or not to hire a line editor; schedule a guest blogger for 4/29 & 5/6 “First Love Fridays”
Read before you buy at

Your turn: What is self-publishing to you? What isn’t it?


Keri Stevens said...

I stayed tuned...and wow, am I glad I did!
How exciting for you, Carey. I've read your writing and I know from our conversations the opportunities you've had. You've gotten a menu of choices and you've made the one that feeds your passion!

Best of luck as you move forward--may you find ALL of your readers and build a great community around your books.

KendallGrey said...

Carey, you NAILED it. On every count. I read your post and thought, "She is going through EXACTLY what I am." I really love how you stress the importance of not using self-pubbing as a "short cut." I've had too many conversations with self-pubbed authors who did it "just because." They wanted to test the waters, not take it on full-force. I resent writers who self-publish so flippantly. THEY are the ones who make the rest of us - those who take careful steps, who edit to the point of death, who plan, who market - look bad.

So glad I found this post. Going to Tweet it now. Best of luck with your novels - only a month to go! I'm a little sickish *for* you. Hahaha! I've planned for my trilogy to come out in May, June, July 2012, and I'm nervous as hell. Can't imagine how you must be feeling now.

You will be awesome. What an accomplishment. Congratulations!

Tonya Kappes said...

Carey! I'm so with you! I've been published by a publisher and just recently took back my rights to my next two books. I'm going to go the indie pubbing route too. I've met so many authors over the past couple months that have left their publishers to go it alone. Don't get me wrong, I still want the BIG SIX, because that was my dream. But a small press is nothing different than you going it alone~I figured that out on my own! Did I enjoy the experience, yes. But now that I've done that, I want to move on and see what I can do for ME!

With the new model for publication, and the scrambling of agents/editors one really knows where publishing is going. This leaves an equal playing field for all authors. Of course first you have to write a GREAT book. Not throwing crap up on the internet. You have a great book. I've read The Guardian! I loved it!
I did hire a professional editor, professional cover artist because I have been researching this since December and it's true~those do matter when it comes to readers.

I can tell you this: I've never had a reader ask me, "who's your publisher?" They don't care, as long as they get to read your book! Go for it!!

Jennifer Jakes said...

I think this is GREAT news! I know several authors - even some who were with the Big 6 - who are going this route.
Congrats -- and wishing you many sales :)

Melissa Landers said...

Another devoted "Guardian" fan here! You're beyond talented, and I envy your ability to capture love so flawlessly on the page. I'll be following your journey, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy when Guardian is released!

PJ Sharon said...

Thanks for being a trail blazer and sharing your story. I'm in that research mode at the moment. Still querying and submitting, still entering contests and 'tweaking' two manuscripts and wondering if my time is better spent working for myself rather than trying to aquire an agent. I'm currently producing a pros and cons list for indy-publishing. Can you give me a few specific hurdles (cons) you've found?

Lynda Bailey said...

Major congrats on your decision! Indie pubbing is a very real part of the future. Can't to read about the rest of your journey.

LizbethSelvig said...

Hi Carey,
I think you're in excellent company in this great adventure. This is such an exciting new wave in publishing and you outlined the steps to take as well as the emotional journey beautifully. I wish you the very, very best and will be looking forward to GUARDIAN's release and all its success.

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Hey, Carey! I'm excited and not at all sickish for you. It's natural to experience all those fears, but you're embarking on self-pubbing with your eyes wide open. I know you'll make it a success, and yes, your village will be behind you.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Carey, a wonderful post. You're approaching this as a professional and arming yourself with lots of careful research, so you're starting out on the right foot. It sounds very similar to what I did with my women's fiction novel that I originally wrote for Next before it went bye-bye and then which never found a home.

Looking forward to reading The Guardian. Sounds like it's right up my alley.

Gillian Layne said...

I'm thrilled for you and so grateful you are sharing your experiences. You're the trailblazer that will make it easier for all those who make this decision down the road. :)

Kimberly said...

I don't feel at all sickish for you! I'm so excited because I know you'll be a huge success. Sometimes when other people can't "find a home" for a project doesn't mean that there isn't a better home out there. You have found your village, so build your home. There's that old saying...."If you build it, they will come." Well, it's not really an old saying as much as a one-liner from a movie, but you get the picture. :-)
Good luck to you! I can't wait to be one of the first to purchase it and then tell everyone that I was on the ground floor of the building process.

patti.mallett_pp said...

Hey, Carey, I don't know you, but just saw your email @ SCBWI. It sounds like you're making a very educated guess of what is right for you. To that, I say, "Good for you!" and "Best of luck!" (I don't blog, but read quite a few and am wondering why you made the choice not to have your name in the Heading @ the top of the page.)

Renee Vincent said...

Great post, Carey! And I'm so proud of you. You have the personality to get this done and to do it right. You know I'm here for you.

Carey_Corp said...

Wow! First off, I have to say I'm touched by all of the supportive, thoughtful comments. Thank you all! The writing community truly is amazing and I am so blest to be a part of it.

On to responses:

@patti.mallett_pp Great catch. This is educated trial and error for me. I added my name at the top.

@KendallGrey Kudos to you for your professional approach and best of luck. What do you write?

@PJ Sharon - My pro/con list is on my future blog topic list. Briefly, my top 3 cons: Missing part of the YA demographic -teen readers want books they can buy at their local bookstore; "Vanity Press" stigma/readers have been burned by poor quality material; capacity to execute like a NY release.

@Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) I am a HUGE fan of your YA novels and I really appreciated your post on your self-pub journey.

Katrina Snow said...

Thanks for posting this Carey. I've been seriously considering taking the same route myself. In fact, if my next round of edits doesn't result in a publishing deal, my plan is to self/e-publish. I hope your liberated self has a great time and that your books are a huge success.

Tanya Dean Anderson said...

Kudos to you, Carey! If I can be of any help, please let me know. I have been blogging about self-publishing—So You Want to Self-Publish—and will continue over the next weeks and months. Maybe some of the info on the blog will be useful:

Pam Torres said...

#standingclappingwildly Wow! This is just what I wanted to find. Someone that is taking their career in their hands, planning and creating their own success. I am so glad that I can tag along on your journey!

Jennette said...

Carey, congrats on your decision and upcoming releases! Gotta agree with everything - all sound business reasons for choosing this path. I found your "Biggest Fears" interesting - except for the first one, those are all risks for corporate-published and small press published authors, too. But I have no doubt you'll overcome them all!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Carey -- wishing you the very best of luck, and an exciting journey!

Suzi said...

Congratulations on such a well thought out next step, and best wishes for everything you do,
Looking forward to following your progress and I'll certainly send others here to read about your exciting approach to a career in a difficult industry,

Jenn Stark said...

Carey, congratulations on taking this bold new step in your publishing career, and I just know that with your drive and determination, you'll be able to help your books take flight. You are on your way!!

Jenn (posting from iPad and darned if i can figure out how to do it with my jennstark ID!)

Jerrica Knight-Catania said...

Carey! Congrats on this HUGE step you're taking! For me, self-pubbing has been the best thing I've ever done. I wish you TONS of success in this journey, and I can't wait to read The Guardian - the excerpt is fabulous!

Shea Berkley said...

Carey, I've said it before and I'll say it again, if anyone can make this work, it's you. With your background, incredible drive and talent, you have all the peices to make a huge impact in the ebook trade. I'm very excited to see your progress. You're gonna wow them all!

Dale Mayer said...

Hi Carey, you're going through what I just went through - and am still going through. The sense of freedom is divine! I have just put up my first nonfiction and my novels are coming soon. Good luck to you and enjoy the journey!

Dale Mayer

Carey_Corp said...

@Dale Mayer Congrats on your daring. Best of luck to you.

And to all my wonderful friends: OVRWA, SCBWI, YARWA, GH2010, Facebook, and the MargaRITAs - I COULD NOT do this without you cheering me on. I'm so glad all of you are along for this journey. :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Self publishing is not for everyone, and the majority of writers SHOULD NOT self publish for a good reason (think typical slushpile here). But there are some writers, like yourself, where it is an ideal situation for them. They've come so close to being published the traditional route, that they know their story and writing is solid (and not because their mom told them it is). Those are the self-published authors I'll support. This is not the case for the writer who got tired of every agent in the world rejecting the query or ms.

Pat Marinelli said...

I wish you the best with your self-publishing adventure. I will be following along. May you have many sales!

Cynthia Wicklund said...

I'm also a GH finalist who decided to go "rogue." After selling to a small press and making very little money, I decided to try Indie publishing a few months ago. It's scary and a lot of work, but I feel like my writing is my own again. Wondering if I could sell what I was writing to a publisher was literally stalling my creativity. It's not for everybody, but I love it.

Carey_Corp said...

@Stina Lindenblatt - I agree completely. I think a lot of writers jump into self-publishing the same way others query agents after completing the first draft of their first manuscript. It's a HUGE accomplishment to finish a book-and I understand wanting to share that with the world-but it takes the average writer years of work and several novels to hone their skills. For various reasons, too many people jump the gun and self-publish before they or their work is ready. As a result, really strong projects can get lost in the slush of ePublishing. I'm a little worried about that.

@Cynthia Wicklund - I'm so glad that you shared the positive experience you're having. I'm the happiest I've been in my career in a while. I'm overwhelmed and a bit scared, but in a good way. ;)

Connie Gillam said...


I'm excited for you. I'm also looking to self-pub or epub. I'm very grateful you've shared your journey toward that decision with all of us.

Sara and Staci said...

Congrats Carey for taking matters into your own hands. My co-author, Staci, and I met you at the RWA convention last year. Our angel book SINFUL book was released in November. We are currently in the land of agent denial for our second manuscript. Rejection sucks! Good luck with it all.

Carey_Corp said...

@Sara and Staci - I totally remember meeting you. Congrats on SINFUL. I totally feel your pain. YA seems to trend-like with angels-and if you're on the outside looking in,it can be challenging to break through. What's the second ms about?

Valerie Douglas aka V. J. Devereaux said...

I'm on the same journey, Carey, and going through the same struggles.
With the economy being what it is, it's also tougher for the publishing industry to take on a new, untried writer especially if you're writing off-trend.
Although I am published in another genre, that hasn't translated for me (yet) into other opportunities. So self-publishing allows me to get my work out there where people can see it, to build a name in a different genre, and to get the feedback that we all sometimes need.

Carey_Corp said...

@ Valerie Douglas aka V. J. Devereaux - Good for you Valerie. Monday I'll be touching on this as I explore paths to publication.

Laurie A. Green said...

Carey, I can so relate to your experience and feelings about the self-pubbing route.

I was about two weeks away from self-pubbing when I got the calls that I'd double-finaled in the Golden Heart this year. I decided to reassess and make another (very determined) attempt at pursuing traditional publishing, but it's very reassuring to know that self-publishing is always another viable option. I have peers who have done extremely well by self-publishing including Victorine Lieske who made the NYT with her romantic suspense novel.

I'll be sure to check back so I can follow your progress.

Carey_Corp said...

@Laurie A. Green - congrats on the double GH!I'll be rooting for you on awards night. Have you finaled before? For me, it was an amazing whirlwind of awesome. I hope things break wide open for you. But if they don't, there's more than one road to Oz.

Anonymous said...

Carey, here's another step for you: The day of your release, come be a guest on my blog. Talk about the book, your self-publishing journey, whatever you want--let me take a little of the work from you, my Unsinkable sister, by helping to get word of The Guardian out there!

Susan Hatler said...

Look forward to seeing your cover, Carey!