No More Spinning My Wheels: The Decision to Self-Publish

When I started my author page on facebook, I promised to keep updating folks on my path to publication. I shared when I landed an agent, finaled in contests, submitted manuscripts, and received rejections (of which there’ve been many). Lately, I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about the status of my manuscript submissions—which means it’s time to do a serious update. Picture flashing signs, exit looming, blinker on… ready?

©karenroach via BigStock

©karenroach via BigStock

In August I asked my agent to pull the submission of my second book from the last two editors who had it. I also told her that she and I should part ways. She was incredibly gracious, said she’d do the same in my position, and wished me well. A bold move from a newbie author who’s been trying hard to get published for years, right? Yes and no.

Let me preface by saying that I still believe in the traditional path. There are benefits, and I’m not ruling it out in future. (Heck, I spent twenty years working for or with traditional publishers as a designer. In truth, I feel quite a bit of loyalty in that direction.) But as time dragged on, I realized that path had me rather stuck in the road. I was hitting the accelerator, but my wheels kept spinning in the mud. Worse, I started to suspect that even if a tow truck came along, I wouldn’t like the driver’s plan to get me rolling, let alone his price. I began to fret: what if I did get an offer—something I’ve waited so long for—and I felt I had to decline? And while I waited, I daydreamed: What if I could make this happen myself—without paying into his big tow-truck conglomerate or signing his long-term contract?

Because I’ve been watching, carefully, ever since self-publishing got rolling. I’ve been noting the signposts. Do’s and don’ts. Possibilities. Warnings. Failures. And most of all success stories—especially the quiet ones…

I began submitting to editors via the agent in mid-April of 2012. In that time, my skills as a writer have grown. So has my confidence. The rejections I received are positive. The agent and I have exhausted the houses I was really gung ho about. The others, I feel, are not worth pursuing as they are unlikely to take a chance on my cross-genre books. The self-publishing world has grown and soared. Not just in scope, but in quality. And, as some surprise standouts have shown, the internet is often the perfect place for unusual books or new trends to find an audience.

I’m tired of waiting on a winch and a ramp and somebody else’s wheels. I’m ready to roll forward. Okay, maybe I’m not ready to drag race, but I’m certainly ready to leave the safety of the neighborhood. Because let’s face it. I’ve got to actually make money off this gig. I need to make a living, or I can’t keep spending my time writing. I don’t count on being some zillionaire. I just want steady income from my writing. I want my stories out in the world, touching somebody. And more and more, I find I want to be in control of how they get there. It’s bound to be a steep hill, especially at the beginning. I don’t have a built-in audience. I’ve got a helluva lot to do and to learn.
I will have to scrape and scrounge to afford to hire out those pieces I can’t do myself, like editing. I will have to keep writing even as I run a business. I fully expect to work harder than I ever have before.

But you know what? I only need to do better than the small newbie advance and set royalty percentage I might have eventually gotten from a traditional house. I only, at first, need to cover the costs of self-publishing. And then, to make a better income than what I’m making design-wise. Those are the baselines. If I hit them, I will consider myself successful. If I reach those marks sooner rather than later, I’ll be thrilled. I’m incredibly excited about the possibilities and, regardless of the level of success I achieve, I don’t doubt for a second that this is the right course for me. But it’s going to take time. And the road is long.

Am I terrified? Hell, yes. I could totally eat these words. I could be a dismal failure. I could end up hanging my head in shame—mortified because I shared all this and then blew it.

But then again, maybe not.

~JB

© JB Schroeder LLC

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33 Comments

  1. Good luck! Can’t wait to see you in print.

    Reply
  2. JB Schroeder

     /  December 1, 2014

    Thank you, Jennifer! I’m totally psyched!

    Reply
  3. Diana Quincy

     /  December 1, 2014

    Congratulations JB! I’m also looking forward to buying your books.

    I think one thing we’ve learned during the revolution in publishing these past few years, is that there is no one “right” way to proceed on the road to publication.

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  December 1, 2014

      Absolutely, Diana, so true. Hand in hand with that goes flexibility. Things are more fluid now. We have the flexibility to change our minds, too, to try something new, to adjust when one thing or another isn’t working. We can even come full circle, or try two things at once. Such possibility! : )

      Reply
  4. Way to take your fate into your own hands, Julie! Self-publishing is really hard work but I know you’re not afraid of that, and the rewards are wonderful. For one thing, you have total control, and we know all writers are control freaks. 🙂 I wish you the best of luck on your new path!

    Reply
  5. OMG, I’m so excited for you! You’ve got this, girlfriend! I can’t wait to read it! XOXOXO

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  December 1, 2014

      Thank you, DC! I will ring you when I need all that excitement in your voice to boost me back up when I start to get fearful! : )

      Reply
  6. Self-publishing is a hard road, but hell it’s worth it! Congrats on your decision, and I cannot wait to see your first book in print!

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  December 1, 2014

      I am glad to hear you say it’s worth it since you are ahead of me on this path! Thank you, Jackson!!

      Reply
  7. Congrats, JB! I can’t wait to read your books.

    Reply
  8. Lori L

     /  December 1, 2014

    Congrats JB! I’ve no doubt there is a lot of hard work ahead but I can’t wait for you to share the cover and teasers and finally the book! So excited for you and ur readers (which I am one).

    Lori

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  December 1, 2014

      Thank you so much, Lori! Better get to work on that cover then, huh? : )

      Reply
  9. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  December 1, 2014

    So excited for you! Love that you’re blazing your own trail! Can’t wait to buy them!

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  December 1, 2014

      Thank you, RoseAnne! I’m so lucky to have you in my corner!

      Reply
  10. JB (gotta get used to calling you that!), good for you. It’s scary to veer away from a path that you’ve been walking down for a while. I commend your courage for taking your career into your own hands–if only for a little while. I made a similar decision about a year and a half ago. It’s scary, but rewarding in ways you might not realize. Getting a fabulous Team Schroeder together will be one of your biggest, most important steps now. Sending you big, warm hugs.

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  December 1, 2014

      Tracey! How wonderful to hear from you and yes: I have been keeping an eye on you, sister! ; ) And yes, I’m sure as much as I am learning there’ll be constant surprises. Would love to talk soon! Thanks so much!

      Reply
  11. You’re gonna go gangbusters, lady. You’re both tech and design savvy, you know how to market yourself… I can’t wait to see them blaze up the charts!

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  December 1, 2014

      Actually, marketing is one of the things I’m not so sure about! : ) Will certainly be calling on my marketing savvy friends here! : ) Thank you, Joanna. Gangbusters? Dare I hope!? Thanks for the faith in me!!!

      Reply
  12. Yeah, JB. So happy for you! I find it interesting how we all started on our journey at the same point yet have mostly all taken a slightly different path toward publication. I think we’ve all proven that there’s no ONE way to get published. Keep arming yourself with knowledge. Just making the decision is a step in the right direction. I can wait to watch as the rest of your journey unfolds!

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  December 2, 2014

      So very true, Maria! We are a total microcosm, aren’t we? And yes, even just making the decision felt like a step (a big one) in the right direction for me. I’ll keep you posted! Thank you!!

      Reply
  13. You shine no matter what you do JB! So, I have every confidence that self pub will bring you much success. Can’t wait to get my copy and see your awesome cover design. Congrats on a great decision.

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  December 2, 2014

      Awww! Aren’t you sweet, Nicole! Thank you for the belief in me! and I might just be calling up you Scribes with some questions… ; )

      Reply
  14. Yay! So happy for you! I know you are going to succeed and I’m looking forward to reading your books. I also can’t wait to see your very own cover design.

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  December 2, 2014

      Thank you, Tina! I’m a little worried about the cover. Catch 22: I couldn’t bear to let someone else do it and yet I might be “too close” to it! : ) Will be asking for opinions, I’m sure!

      Reply
  15. Great details on what went into making the decision, JB. We have so many more resources than just a few years ago. Glad to see you going for it! Best wishes. 🙂

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  December 2, 2014

      Yes, it’s a crazy, wonderful, strange, good time to be an author! Great to hear from you, Laurel, and thank you so much for the wishes!

      Reply
  16. Congratulations, JB. Must feel great to be moving forward and to be in complete control of your career. Looking forward to reading your books. All the best. 🙂

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  December 4, 2014

      Absolutely! As hard as I know the uphill climb will be, it’s also just wonderful to feel “unstuck.”. Thank you, Laurie!

      Reply
  17. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  December 14, 2014

    JB, I so admire you for taking your career into your own hands. Ballsy, my friend! There are just so many ways you can go with it, and with your creativity and business sense, not to mention your writing talent, the sky is the limit. I can’t wait to watch you soar!

    Reply

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