Why did you decide to self-publish?
I made a half-hearted attempt to find a literary agent with my first novel, Saving Ben, but I quickly grew impatient. With traditional publishing, from contract to publication takes a minimum of eighteen months. And that’s AFTER you secure a literary agent, which in itself can take years. Every literary agent I’ve ever heard speak, and I’ve heard a lot of them, share similar statistics. They receive thousands of queries every week, only to take on one or two new clients a year. With those kinds of odds, even Hemingway would’ve had a difficult time getting a contract with a traditional publisher.
How long does it take you to self publish a novel?
From first draft to Amazon shelf, if I work seven days a week, I can publish a book in six months time. Broken down—four months for writing and revising, four weeks working with my editor, and two months packaging, the book cover and interior formatting. That all adds up to seven months, but some of the process overlaps. I start working with the cover designer while I’m still in editing.
What do you love most about self-publishing?
I love the control I have over the process. I get to choose my own editor, cover, and advertising channels. I am an entrepreneur, creating and distributing books. And I love meeting like-minded authors. There are many talented writers making their way in the self-publishing industry today. That means more choices and lower prices for the reader.
What are the key ingredients for successful self-publishing?
Perseverance—Never, ever give up. If you believe in your novel, don’t abandon your characters. There are millions of writers in the world today. The ones who are successful are the ones willing to go the distance.
Strong story—Polish your craft. Reading novels and attending writing workshops are great ways to improve your writing skills. Practice makes perfect. Write at least a little bit every day.
Good editor—Hire the best you can afford. I go two rounds with my editor. The first is the manuscript critique—the big picture. The second is the line edit—the nitty gritty.
Great cover designer—Don’t bother with steps 1-3 unless you are willing to pay for a professional cover. Otherwise, you are wasting your time. No one will give your novel a second look without a stunning cover. You don’t have to spend a fortune. Shop around.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned about writing/self publishing?
Write the book you want to write. Writing is art, and art is subjective. If you ask twenty people for their opinions, you will get twenty different responses. I have a few beta readers whom I trust to give me feedback relative to my work and not based on their personal tastes.
Rules are meant to be broken. There are many rules in writing. Things like—not starting chapters with a character waking up from a dream, and not describing characters by having them look in the mirror. In today’s world of publishing, almost anything goes as long as it’s done tastefully.
Do you always know how your novel will end?
No! People ask me this all the time. When I begin plotting my novel, I seldom know how it will end. I create a character, blow life into her or him, and let them show me the way.