Writing: To Self-Publish Your Novel or Not?

I’m sharing what I’ve learned since trying to publish my book! I’ve also got a list of must-read articles for writers.

It’s official. It’s been a year since I wrote my first full-length YA novel. I did everything I was supposed to do.

1) Write the best book I could.

2) Spend a good amount of time drafting up a query letter.

3) Wait, like the lonely kid in the cafeteria, for an agent to sit down with you.

4) Get super excited when a 1 agent asks for the full manuscript.

5) Step away from the brownies when they decline it.

6) Try not to take a host of rejection letters personally. Or the host of, “Good work but no” letters.

7) Find a miraculous way to keep yourself upbeat! Ask for a very dry martini.

Ok, maybe that last part wasn’t so by the books but after letting the rejection get to me and letting my novel, that I lovingly cared for at one time, gather dust, I now know this is what my list should have been:

1) Write the best novel I could.

2) Leave it for 2 weeks. Don’t query, just have fun. Hang out with everyone you used to when you weren’t typing away.

3) Give it a brutal edit. Let a couple people read it. Listen to their advice. Try to see what your novel is missing or what you could take out to make it even better. Make your novel as print-ready as you can make it.

4) Query and look at your options for self-publishing.

5) In the meantime, do all your promotion research. Where do you want to start your blog tour? How are you going to get your book out there?

6) Publish your book no matter what.

Why would I publish my book? Having an agent is wonderful…it really is but waiting for an agent can take years…. and waiting those years can really detract from writing. Many things can influence a whether or not a book is picked up by an agent: economy, climate, mainstream fads, etc. So why not self-publish in the meantime?

I can become an author while I wait for an agent to pick up on me. With each new book, I can seek representation for it first. If I find no one, I can still put my work out there and hone my own skills in the meantime with each book.

In fact, many traditional authors themselves are now self-publishing in between their own books because it has become so popular. The publishing world is changing. It’s becoming more of a salad as opposed to a melting pot of conformity. After all, no artist needs to wait these days. It’s not like music artists are still waiting to be “found” in L.A., they’re using and abusing YouTube from their own home…like they should be doing.

After I couldn’t get an agent, I stopped writing fiction. I did freelance instead. I kept writing but I couldn’t pick myself up again. I was focused on the wrong thing. What I really should have been considering is if my book ready to be published that day. It wasn’t. I didn’t have the heart to change it much at the time.

But if I look at it through a different lens, that I can publish it myself, I can see what’s good and what needs to be changed much more clearly. I needed to do more work…which I intend to do now by giving it a massive edit.

Then, I can query it to new agents and see what happens. Either way, it’s all about my work and my writing. It’s not about who or how my work became published. It’s all about doing what you love.

And guess what? My mind is whirring again with that same old writing energy I’m used to. I can edit my 1st book when I feel like it. Right now? I’ve written my first couple of pages on a new book idea that’s been bugging me.

Just the last time, the quote I found from Jennifer Weiner rings true, “Tell the story that’s been growing in your heart…the characters you can’t keep out of your mind, the tale that speaks to you, that pops into your head during your daily commute, that wakes you up in the morning.”

*Thus this week, I’ve Gone Writing. I’ll be back next week with new interviews on writing tips, new books, and contests full of free books!

*In the meantime, I leave you with just a few of the best writing articles I’ve stumbled upon lately:

The Common Writing Advice That’s All Wrong

7 Writing Tips from The Princess and the Pea

Why We Need Pain to Write

How Do You Start Writing?

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10 thoughts on “Writing: To Self-Publish Your Novel or Not?

  1. Andi Newton says:

    Great post! Glad to hear you’ve gotten your writing energy back!

  2. Kenda says:

    “It’s all about doing what you love.”–Amen to that! Great post here, with a lot of encouragement. Let’s not give up 🙂

    Thanks for the link to “7 Writing Tips from the Princess and the Pea” from my place over at Words and Such. Appreciate your support. I’m off to check out your other suggested articles…

  3. CG Blake says:

    Thanks so much for your post. It couldn’t be more timely. I’m about to self-publish my first novel and I went through much the same thought process as you described. I must admit, it’s exciting but very scary at the same time. I started my blog September 1 and I plan to upload the book through the Kindle Direct Publishing program as soon as I receive my cover art from my designer. I hired a book editor to edit the first three chapters. I couldn’t afford her services for the entire book, but she made some greag suggestions. Good luck with your book and keep writing.

  4. Krista says:

    Good Luck on your new book!

  5. Nicky Wells says:

    Well said! A brilliant piece, thank you! x

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