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A Map to Self-Publishing [Guest Post]

The following is a guest post by Kimberly Kinrade, a Young Adult Fantasy author. For more on Kimberley, visit her website or tweet @KimberlyKinrade!

Photo: thejourney1972 | Flickr

They say the more detailed your map, the better your chances of reaching your destination. OK, I don’t actually know anyone who says this, but it sounds like something someone would say, right?

And if it’s true, then I’m kinda sunk when it comes to self-publishing. My map for publishing my first book, “Bits of You & Pieces of Me” loosely resembled a map my 5 year old daughter might draw to get herself from our house to China. It was about as effective as well.

I recently wrote a guest post for social media guru Marian Schembari called “How NOT to Self-Publish.” I’ve made some big mistakes along the way and am now like an old world adventurer, pillaging across what was once thought to be flat in order to flesh out my map and make it true.

What I’ve Learned Along The Way

  • The fastest way from point A to point B is not always a straight line. There are many ways to publish, and no straight lines about it.

There’s the mom of young kids who writes her first novel and becomes a millionaire from it. (Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling).

There’s the self-publishing success of one woman who now has an agent who is supporting her self-publishing ventures! (Zoe Winters)

There’s the boy who self-published, then got picked up by a major publisher and became famous and rich. (Christopher Paolini) And the young woman who became famous and rich self-publishing, who then got a fantastic contract with a traditional publisher. (Amanda Hocking)

There’s the NYT bestselling author who turned down a 500K contract to self-publish! (Barry Eisler)

And there’s one of my favorites, the man who broke all the rules in genre writing and is still famous! (Neil Gaiman)

You get the idea!

  • There’s no one right way. Each author has to assess their own writing and publishing goals and decide for themselves the path that’s best.

The Indie vs. Traditional debate reminds me so much of the ‘to- breast-feed-or-not-to-breast-feed debate.’ (Ok, stay with me here, I DO have a point!)

I’m a mom of three young girls. I chose to breast-feed. But there’s such a HUGE dividing line between those camps that it became absurd. Like one camp was infringing on women’s rights and one was torturing small children.

Come on people! The babies were getting fed either way. (I HOPE! And if not, well that’s a whole other issue entirely!) And books are getting published. I have friends who JUST self-publish, and that works for them. I have other friends who would NEVER self-publish, and that’s ok too! The world is big enough for us all. Let’s just support each other as writers and get over ourselves, shall we?

  • The road is constantly changing! Remember in Harry Potter, how their school would always move and change? The stairs that led to their dorms one minute, might lead somewhere else entirely the next. Well, this is how I see publishing right now. What works one minute for one person, may not work the next minute, even for the same person!

More and more I’m seeing traditionally published authors who also have a self-published book on the side. Or a self-published author who takes on an agent and keeps self-publishing while they hunt for a publishing house to call home. Day by day the terrain of the publishing world is reshaping itself, and we have to stay open and adventurous to that journey!

So what does my publishing map look like right now?

By the time you read this, it may be different. Just today I had an awesome coaching call with Robin Hoffman, (AKA @AuthorAlchemy) who reminded me that “Any time there’s tumultuous change, there’s also room for unprecedented opportunities.”

She has encouraged me to stay open to traditional publishing, even while I build a platform and explore self-publishing.

I’m working on an exciting new YA fantasy series, “The Reluctant Familiar” and it has huge potential to go big. So I’m staying open. Writing an amazing book, building a strong platform, branding myself, marketing my work, and keeping a lookout for opportunities in all forms, whether that be self-publishing, traditional representation or both!

After all, publishing is too complex a subject to feel all one way about, to steal (and modify) a great quote from Anna Quindlen.

Because of that, I’m drawing my map in erasable pen. That way I can change my path as the landscape continues to shift under my feet!

Kimberly Kinrade is a Young Adult Fantasy author whose first book “Bits of You & Pieces of Me” was not YA. She started selling her work when she was 10 and ran out of teeth to sell to the Tooth Fairy. Now she writes, plays with her kids and puppies, runs a love blog with the love of her life, and tweets. All the while writing her next masterpiece “The Reluctant Familiar.”

Stalk her at @KimberlyKinrade or http://www.facebook.com/KimberlyKinrade.

After commenting here, head on over to her site http://KimberlyKinrade.com and drop a comment there in support of her author cage fight today with Blog Tour de Force! You could win a gift-basket, Amazon gift card or even a fully loaded kindle! (Not to mention see some intense, action packed blogging where it’s a fight to the death! #notreally #stillgocomment)

  • LOVE your perspective on publishing and the life you are building with your writing. You may not know it but you are a virtual mentor for me and I’m excited to see where you go. Keep it up! :-)

  • Hey Random Chick, thanks 😉 You are all over the place today! Great to see you. I’m so touched to be a virtual mentor to you! Let’s stay in touch.

  • Great article and so true.

  • An open mind and open heart leads to success in many forms. This is the beauty of publishing now. Gone are the days of traditional publishers laying down the law of who gets published and who doesn’t. Of determining what’s good and what’s not–and giving attention only to those books that will make money. @KimberlyKinrade offers many bits of wisdom and pieces of knowledge that should be absorbed, tweeted, shared, and commented on.

  • Thanks so much for the great comments :)

  • Appreciate your insight. As a recently self published author,who is struggling to get a foothold in this business, i sincerely say Thankyou!

  • Thanks gantypowich,

    It’s been a fun journey. And lots of changes along the way. I ended up signing with a small press and put out the first of a YA series “Forbidden Mind,” and the first of a children’s series “Lexie World.” The remaining two books for those trilogies will be out in the next few months, THEN The Reluctant Familiar will be coming out, all through Evolved Publishing.

    I also started working as a project manager for Novel Publicity and became Marketing Director for Evolved Publishing, so I am learning a TON about promoting and marketing and publishing. What a ride! My map is constantly being rewritten and redirected as things change and as I learn more!

  • Stephen Tiano

    I am VERY in favor of self-publishing because I am a book designer/page comp artist. Over the past five years my client list has grown and the number of traditional publishers in that list, if we don’t count university and college presses, has fallen to zero. Otherwise it’s pretty much all … yep, you guessed it, self-publishers. And it’s been the greatest experience from my point of view, because they’re not just interested in the business end of things–making the most saleable books ever–but also in making the best books they possibly can. But I always feel the need to remind any potential self-publisher to 1) write the best they can about something readers want to read about; 2) get outside, professional editing; 3) engage a designer/layout artist with a professional rack record; and 4) throughout these other steps, think about who makes up your natural audience beyond the family and friends who will buy the first 100 or so copies most self-published authors sell and plan how to reach that natural audience.

  • Great post! You are so right. It’s important that we keep our options open and that we support each other. After all, we’re all just writers. We just have different needs, different wants, and different paths to get those. But the main goal for most of us is just to have our books read. :-)