Though self-publishing may not
be appropriate for every author or every book, I have rediscovered the
I’ve been working in the
publishing industry for nearly three
decades, and I’ve worn nearly every hat there is, including author,
editor, ghostwriter, and all-around gofer. Throughout that time I’ve
seen a lot of changes (some for the better, others not so much!), and
if I’ve learned anything, it’s that flexibility is a must. The
publishing world is no easy life, but if we’re sure God has called us
to serve in that venue, then serve we must.
I thought the only flexibility I
had to worry about was learning how
to operate in various genres and in the different facets of publishing.
I seemed to make the transition from editor to writer and back again
with relative ease. One thing I thought I’d never
do is self-publish a book. However, I have done that three times.
What changed my mind? Do I have
any regrets? It began when I
decided to pull together all the notes I’d used over the years to teach
my train-of-thought writing method at various writing conferences and
other events. I discovered I had two options: I could spend months
knocking on traditional publishing doors until I (maybe) found someone
willing to take the project and then wait many more months until the
book was released, or I could publish it myself in a matter of weeks
and retain all rights. I opted for the latter, which resulted in a
professionally printed book titled The Train of Thought
Method: Practical, User-Friendly Help for Beginning Writers.
A few months later I was
approached by a delightful man from
Nashville named Dr. Cupid Poe, who wanted to discuss the possibility of
my helping him write a nonfiction book based on a true story. After
hearing the amazing tale, I felt it wise to take the story’s foundation
and turn it into a novel. We did, and then I went back to the same
self-publisher for two reasons: First, Dr. Poe was unknown in the
publishing world and had little or no platform to help sell his book,
so traditional publishers weren’t interested. Second, he wanted the
book out quickly.
Again, we were very pleased with
the results. The downside is that
sales haven’t been stellar, because it’s tough to market a novel by an
unknown author who doesn’t have a platform. The upside is that a
playwright read the book, titled Emma Jean Reborn,
loved it, and it is now in the early stages of production.
About a year after publishing Emma
I was hired by Joe Hare, a corrections officer/guidance counselor at
San Quentin for more than three decades. His one-on-one work with such
infamous inmates as Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, and Black Panther
George Jackson made for a fascinating story but not one that interested
traditional publishers. Back to the self-publisher we went, producing a
book titled Changed at San Quentin . . . For Better or Worse,
a wonderful tool for those involved in prison ministry and/or with
loved ones serving time behind bars.
Though none of the three books
has made the bestseller list, I
continue to write/publish primarily with traditional publishers.
Working with this self-publisher, Author Solutions, Inc., in
Bloomington, Indiana, was so positive that I now have an ongoing,
professional relationship with them. They have retained me as their
consultant to the Christian publishing community—adding yet another hat
to my collection. Though self-publishing may not be appropriate for
every author or every book, I have rediscovered the importance of
“never say never,” particularly in the changing world of writing and
So long as God continues to give
me messages to write, I will
publish each one however He directs. I encourage you to do the same.