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5 Musts for Self-Publishing Great Books
By Laurisa White Reyes, @lwreyes
Part of the Indie Authors Series
When I was fourteen years old, I described my life’s dream on a page in my journal. I wanted, more than anything, to be an author. Not just any author. I wanted to be a New York Times Best-selling author. I fantasized about autographing books and winning the Newbery Award. In bookstores, I scanned the shelves, hunting for the very spot where my books would one day be. Once I actually started writing novels about a dozen years ago, I fully believed this dream was within reach, that any writer who worked hard enough could achieve it.
Naïve as I was, this dream kept me motivated through fourteen complete manuscripts and hundreds of rejection letters. Along the way, I did get three books published with small presses. I thought my dream was coming true. But I soon discovered that publication is no guarantee of success, and that too often, getting published with a small press (as well-meaning and author-friendly as many of them are) can be worse for an author’s career than having never published at all.
That’s where I found myself in 2015, with three published titles, a career in the publishing industry, and an impressive list of awards and recognitions under my belt. Yet I felt no closer to my dream than I had been as a teenager. By that time, I had spent two decades working on one particular book that meant a great deal to me.
In 1993, I worked as an office assistant at an AIDS clinic in Pasadena, California. I witnessed a lot of tragedy there, people suffering from a disease for which, at the time, there was no effective treatment. My experiences stuck with me and eventually resulted in a children’s novel about a girl whose father is dying of AIDS. Though I received numerous positive responses from literary agents, the manuscript accumulated close to thirty rejections. One agent told me that though The Storytellers was good, “kids today aren’t interested in reading about AIDS in the 90s.” In other words, it simply wasn’t marketable.
I was discouraged. I was disillusioned. Maybe the publishing industry was somehow rigged against people like me. I had a decision to make: Give up on the book or self-publish.