Guest post: S.R. Johannes: My self-pub MG journey

My Journey in a Nutshell

Since I got serious about writing in 2004. I’ve had 4 books go to acquisitions. Yes four. Two of those – a MG and Nonfiction book – almost sold BEFORE I had an agent. After I signed with a top agent in a top NY agency, I had TWO more books go to acquisitions with her – a tween paranormal and this book – Untraceable. The tween was in even in noncontractual revisions at a couple houses for over a year – only to not sell.

After my agent and I parted way, I spent time wallowing in my self pity, eating chocolate, and yelling at the world from my office window. Soon I came to the conclusion these books probably did not have a future in traditional publishing –- so I went out on a limb and decided to publish it myself.

That was a hard decision. These books were my blood, tears, sweat, fears, and dreams all bound in 300 pages.

Stigma Of Self Publishing

Unfortunately the view of self-pubbing is very negative. I will admit (not proudly) that I always had a negative view myself. I felt that most self-pubbed books were of a low or cheap quality and came from people who could not get published.

Every self-pubbed book I had ever seen was someone trying to sell me a spiral bound copy from a trunk of a car or people pushing them on my at conferences or festivals. I could obviously tell were self-pubbed.

This view was the main reason I fought self-publishing my own stuff for so long. I had been on the traditional side with an agent and going to acquisitions – so self pubbing would have been admitting to myself that I wasn’t good enough. That I had failed.

Boy, I was so wrong.

Did you know that the majority of the eBooks on Amazon’s top 100 are self-pubbed? Seriously, go look at it. They did it the right way so you can’t tell. Then, once you dive into the wonderful indie community, you realize that there are so many great writers out there that are self-pubbed. Not to mention famous ones. Like Christopher Paolini or John Grisham. Some choose to self-pub and some do it because traditional pubbing hasn’t worked for them for whatever reason.

I also met a great group of girls who had self-pubbed and we created a support group called The INdelibles. Their books have all been done the right way. The professional way. And you would never know unless you knew imprints or houses.
So, here are a few ways to get past the stigma:

1) If you do it for 100$ it will look like a 100$ book.

Self-Publishing is not free. There are costs involved – especially if you want to do it right. I say, you get out of it – what you put in. Do what it takes to make it right or don’t do it at all. Spend some money to make sure your book is of high quality and doesn’t look self-published then you might get your foot in the door.

2) Everyone Judges A Book by its cover

I think it’s critical to have a good cover that does not look self-published. A quality, high res, and unique cover. I saved money to hire a photographer to do my cover because I wanted something original and high quality. I wanted my book to blend in to the other traditional books that were so successful. I didn’t want to give anyone a chance to say – “Oh this is self pubbed”. Because then my book never gets a fair shot. And trust me, you will get turned down just because it is self-pubbed. It sucks and is totally unfair but it’s true. So make sure it looks good. The cover sells books.

3) Don’t skip the editing

I had my book edited by a children’s editor and then paid to have it copyedited when it was done. I’ve spent a long time on this book to make sure I was proud of it. And I am. Self-pubbing is a short cut to the long publishing process. It is NOT a short cut to writing, revising, editing, revising, and editing.

4) Commit

Self-pubbing is HARD. It may seem like the easy answer but it is not. You do it all ON YOUR OWN. Getting reviews, doing blog tours, cover, typography, editing, formatting. It is a long and arduous process and is a huge time commitment. Before and after you publish. It doesn’t end. Don’t do it if you don’t have the time to put into it. Don’t do it if you feel uncomfortable marketing and promoting yourself (in a classy and non pushy way).

In The End

This has been a hard road for me, but I’m proud of where I’ve landed. I did this book my way and I feel I did it the right way for me. I say – don’t do it just to do it – do it right.

— Thanks, S.R!

And now to you, TMUFers! Have you read any self-pubbed books? We’d love to know about your impressions in the comments section!

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A little about ON THE BRIGHT SIDE by S.R. Johannes!

Gabby is a disgruntled tween angel who has just been assigned to protect her school nemesis and ex-beffie. Problem is her ex-beffie is dating Gabby’s longtime crush. Instead of protecting Angela, Gabby pranks her (since when is sticking toilet paper to her shoe or spinach in her teeth a sin?) Soon, Gabby gets out of control and is put on probation by her SKYAgent, who has anger management issues of his own. Determined to right her wrongs, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to Earth for just one day. Without knowing, she kicks off a series of events and learns what can happen when you hate someone to death.

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