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How Did We Get Here? Shannon shares the Duolit Story!

Four years ago, in the midst of self-publishing my first novel, I found my toes teetering on the edge of a steep drop into what could only be described as a total crazypants abyss.

Circling above my head like buzzards were questions, phrases and fears that plagued my attempts to launch my writing career. How should I price my book? Is it OK to use an ISBN from my printer? What the heck is a distribution list and do I need to be on one?

On the verge of a hysterical episode, I did the same thing I always do when facing a mental breakdown – I called my best friend, Toni.

And just like she always does, she talked me off the ledge, into a safe and happy place where I was once again proud of my writing accomplishments and convinced that the future held infinite possibilities for me, my book and my writing career.

Crisis averted, I pressed on.

Neither Toni nor I was aware of it at the time, but that little episode was the start of what would become our first true professional passion: helping out fellow indie authors.

So many footsteps (in so many different directions) brought both of us to this point. We’re here, with you, positioned quite perfectly to make a big splash in the publishing world!

And we couldn’t be more excited about it.

It’s been a long road for us, just as it has been for you.

So many of you have shared their stories with us already, and we’re so thankful! From details of battling through the self-publishing process to evolving plans for a new novel and insightful questions — you’re sharing part of yourself with us, and we love hearing from you more than we can express.

Now, we want to return the favor and share our story with you, to give you a feel for who we are and how we got here. Then, together, our indie author family can become an even more pioneering force in the self-publishing wilderness!

The story begins…

The first time mine and Toni’s paths crossed was in 1992, in the confines of our second grade classroom.

Bonded over a mutual love for FSU football, chapter books and The Weather Channel (we were a little odd, what can I say?) we quickly established a friendship that would transcend our separation at different schools, the changes of adolescence and the challenges of college independence.

That’s me (dark hair), and Toni (blonde-y)!

I promise you, there are very few people who could share a 12’ x 12’ room with me and not wind up smothering me in my sleep (justifiably, at that). But Toni and I got along like gangbusters in our first college dorm. We listened to Journey every night before bed, never missed an episode of The OC, made grilled cheese with our clothes iron and beat every level of Mario Kart Double Dash (including the bonus mirrored tracks, because we’re just that awesome).

Things went so well that we remained roommates for the next four years as we transitioned through a series of apartments and houses with other friends.

The dynamic duo goes pro!

Our college experience also gave us an opportunity to work together as graphic artists for a national publication company. We traveled all around Tallahassee, meeting with blue-haired ladies in church basements to explain how we would use fancy computer programs to create the church directories they’d previously been publishing with scissors and glue.

Toni’s incredible design skills and artistic eye combined with my (borderline obsessive) organizational skills and Southern gift of gab made us the perfect team for the job.

Though we eventually left the position to take separate jobs as part of our master’s degree pursuits, that work experience made us realize that our well-balanced friendship could easily be parlayed into a well-balanced business.

Following graduation, we both wound up back home in our sunny seaside town of St. Augustine, Florida, again working for the same company – Toni as a designer, me as a project manager. But, unlike our college employment, this job’s depressing windowless cubicle confinement drained our fun, fire and passion every day we stepped through the doors.

By this time (late 2009), I had self-pubbed my first book (twice) with Toni’s artistic, informational and emotional guidance. Though parts of the experience were rough (as evidenced by my near mental breakdown described at the beginning of this story) we both enjoyed learning as much as we could about the industry. Self-publishing was the perfect outlet for authors wanting to take control of their own destinies!

Look out self-publishing world: Duolit is born!

All of this led to a pivotal conversation at Cracker Barrel (that sentence has probably never been said before…no offense, Cracker Barrel). Our depressing day jobs had driven us to seek comfort in the roadside chain’s delicious 24-hour breakfast.

We had begun to take a few freelance marketing and design gigs here and there, but our efforts had little in the way of focus or direction. As best I can recall, our discussion went something like this:

Me: Hey Toni, pass the ketchup.

Toni: Sure. *Chewing* You know, I’ve been thinking about our marketing business thing.

Me: Yeah? *Nom Nom Nom*

Toni: I think we need to focus on a specific niche – like, a group we really care about. *Pause* Are you gonna eat your grits?

Shannon: No, here. *Passes grits, then takes a huge bite of hash brown casserole and talks with her mouth full, like a caveman* I think that’s a good idea. It would give us more focus.

Toni: Exactly! And you know there are a ton of other self-publishing authors out there like you…

Shannon: Except they don’t have an awesome friend who will do their book design for free and help them stay sane when trying to market their book on the internet and that new Twitter thing. Thanks for that, by the way.

Toni: You’re welcome. When you make it big, I want you to buy me a pet penguin, okay? And a golf cart.

Shannon: Done. Can you pass the biscuits?

Toni: Yeah. *Nom, Nom, Nom* So, seriously, I think we should do this. We can offer advice on a blog and then come up with some publishing and marketing services we can provide at low cost for struggling authors.

Shannon:  We can share all the stuff we learned when we were researching stuff for my book, so other authors who don’t have the time to sift through everything on the internet could find everything they need in one place.

Toni: Exactly! What do you think we should call it?

Shannon: I don’t know, toss me that packet of strawberry jelly and a napkin; let’s brainstorm.

Fueled by grits and hash browns, we scribbled all kinds of details onto that napkin. But, we still needed a name for our new endeavor. Two minds, both dedicated to the book world, what could would fit?

Suddenly, it came to us: Duo (since we’re so dynamic and all) + Lit (books) = Duolit!

In the two years since then, Duolit has evolved, and it’s all due to our awesome group of indie author friends! Your feedback has helped us adjust our focus to the topics where you need guidance the most.

But, just like y’all, we are still frequently haunted by the demons of distraction, time management and focus. But…

That’s the benefit of having two heads instead of one!

Just like we’ve balanced each other out through 20 years of friendship, we also balance each other out as partners at Duolit. When one of us gets distracted, falls behind, or loses focus, the other one steps in to put us both back on the straight and narrow.

Plus, we’ve got twice the marketing, design and publishing knowledge by virtue of our two (enormous) heads!

And that’s the story of how two longtime best friends came together to form the “little company that could,” known as Duolit.

You’ve heard our story, now we want to hear yours!

Please take a minute to leave us a comment below! We’d love to know: where are you in the publishing process? What’s your ideal self-publishing outcome? What demons are you fighting?

Note: don’t feel pressured to make it long or glamorous — we just want to get a feel for where you are and where you want to go! Don’t feel comfortable sharing your story with the world? Hit ‘reply’ on any of our emails and tell us directly. We WILL read your response and write you back!

  • Laura

    You are blessed to have found each other. Hold on to your relationship with both hands and NEVER let go.

    • We certainly are, Laura! Thanks so much for reading and responding :-)

  • Celeste Mayfield

    WOW! That is all I can say in regard to your story. It’s amazing that you have each other.
    I am in the process of writing my first book. It is basically done, just some editing and putting it together until I am satisfied.
    I have to say, that I don’t really have a clue where to go once it’s done. I know I want to self-publish it, I know that I don’t really know what you are talking about when you say, “find the time to market it.” I don’t really know where to market it at on the internet where people will read it.
    I am so thankful for this website, because everyday I receive another answer to a question that has kept me up at night.
    I’ve talked to editors and publishing companies, but you guys have been the most helpful.

    I started writing when I was a little girl. I’ve always loved writing and I had thought of writing a book for some time. I guess when you get older, you lose all of the fear. Now, I feel like I have the guts to try and succeed. Because, really who will it hurt if I don’t try? On the flip side, who will care if I fail? It won’t hurt, but I will have at least tried.

    So, I get the scared, irritated and lost feeling often, but thanks for the emails with all of the help and advise.

    Keep up the good work. You guys rock.

    • Hi Celeste! Thank you so much for taking the time to read our story and share your own. When we say to market your book, what we want you to do is start building a fanbase before your book is released. For more on that, check out our reader-centered book marketing series (first post here) and stay tuned to our emails — we’ll be opening up a more intensive (free) 4-week book marketing course soon!

      If you need help on the actual process of self-publishing, we highly recommend Catherine Ryan Howard’s book Self-Printed. Check it out here You can also check out our Self-Publishing Basic Training book on the toolkit page, but it’s not as updated or in-depth as Catherine’s work!

      To be honest, though, losing that fear is the best thing you can do — successful indie authors put so much time, effort and passion into their work and having a healthy dose of guts is a big part of finding that success. Learn something new every day, and good luck on your journey!

  • I self-published out of sheer ignorance. Living in darkest South Africa has its drawbacks. I was rejected by 35 British agents and I thought my fledgling writing career was over before it had drawn its first breath. I self-published my middle grade adventure novel (in the USA) and went on to win a slew of book awards, No great sales yet (boo hoo!), and snag a movie option (fingers crossed). I then e-published same book with UK e-publisher and sold more copies in six months than hard copies with US publisher. I am completing second book in a series and have learned a lot. My needs are the marketing and getting my book to an audience who cares enough to keep buying the next and the next… Your duo story is inspiring. I am teaming up in a marketing drive with an author friend who coincidentlly has a second book relating to the same subject as mine – King Arthur. Luckily mine is modern and hers historical so we don’t clash. I hope a duo marketing drive will benefit us both. We’re just not sure yet how to tackle our master plan to Conquer The Reading World.

    • Hi Fiona! Thank you so much for sharing your story — what perseverance! You’re a perfect example of the kind of indie author we love: passionate, determined and willing to do what it takes to find success. It sounds like you’re doing well and have some great stuff planned. Keep on keepin’ on, and we’ll do our best to help you build that fanbase :-)

  • I’ve just self-published my second children’s book on Amazon. I’ve started a Blog https://www.4writersandreaders.wordpress.com, have been networking with other writers via LinkedIn, Goodreads and several other sites. How do I get the word out about my books? I also have a Facebook Page

    Where do I go from here? Your thoughts would be welcome. Bette

    • Hi Bette! Thanks for reading and filling us in. Your next best step is to find some dedicated readers for your work — perhaps focusing on teachers and parents would be a good fit? If you haven’t already, check out our series on reader-centered book marketing (that first post links to the others). We’ll also be offering a free intensive 4-week book marketing bootcamp in September, so be on the lookout for that :-)

    • Bette A. Stevens

      Thanks for the response. What do you think about press releases? I’ve sent out one, but didn’t get sales… However, I did get some locals who noticed and commented positively. Should I blitz the media (local), or just wait to see what happens with the personal outreach to schools and libraries?

  • I was galvanised to self-publish when I suddenly woke up to the fact that the opportunity now existed, and as an endeavour it suited me perfectly – I was a freelance PR consultant in the past, and enjoyed the challenge and flexibility of self-employment. I have always, always written novels and stories, but for years was too preoccupied with work and family (I have four children!), and supporting my husband’s business, to face what looked like the thankless and protracted struggle of trying to get my work traditionally published.

    I spent a few weeks excitedly researching the whole ‘scene’, building a web site and learning how to use social media. Then I pulled the first installment of my series into shape, formatted it (I’m slightly proud of hitting Smashwords’ premium catalogue first go), commissioned artwork, and published across all platforms. Hurrah!

    Except now I actually have to let the world know that my series exists and where to find it, and despite all my research I’m not sure where to start. I have my Twitter following building up nicely, but every guide says that it’s rude to just start promoting your book to your followers, so I have made only one small mention of it – once. I have a web site with a nicely set up email subscriber linked to a list management company, and have precisely no sign-ups. Where to start? My husband is, I think, disappointed that after a week I have sold five copies. I have told him that everyone starts off like this, but I wish I felt I was doing something more effective. But with frantically working on the next installment (surely one of the better marketing strategies), four children and a house to run, it’s very hard to find enough time. I certainly can’t waste what time I have on things that make no difference.

    I’m thinking of starting by totally revamping the web site/blog, as I think my first idea for it was a bit rubbish. That could suck up a lot of time though. Some advice would be welcome.

    • Hi Penelope! Thanks for sharing your story :-)

      I can’t even imagine trying to put together an entire novel while managing a household with four kids, another business and the rest of life’s daily distractions! Kudos for pushing through all that to put together your first completed manuscript, already you’re much further along in the process than most!

      From here I would say you should definitely evaluate your website in terms of what kind of foundation it gives you on the web. Would you be proud to refer fans you meet on Facebook, Twitter, etc. to your website? Do you have a solid blog and a sales page for your book established? I wouldn’t spend too much of your time trying to create the perfect website, it really just needs to be user-friendly and stocked with great content.

      After that, you can jump start your marketing with the tips in our Book Marketing Toolkit. Have you signed up for our newsletter? It’s free and easy, we offer lots of helpful hints (and no spam!) plus you get the Book Marketing Toolkit free just for signing up.

      You can sign up here: https://selfpublishingteam.com/newsletter/

      If you have more specific questions and want to get some one-on-one time with us to find your direction, you should check out our Kick Booty Coffee Hour (Coffee Optional): https://selfpublishingteam.com/services/kick-booty-coffee-date/

      Thanks again for sharing your story and good luck going forward! Welcome to the community and let us know what we can do to help you out :-)

  • I quit my job as a technical writer/supervisor in June and decided to self-publish my novel which has been sitting on the back burner for some time. The first thing I did was take Joel Friedlander’s course in self-publishing. It was immensely helpful in getting me oriented and it probably has been a big time saver. Right now I am focused on editing and getting the book cover designed. My next area of focus will be marketing which I find totally intimidating and overwhelming. There is so much information out there to wade through.

    • Hi Linda! It sounds like, even though you might feel overwhelmed, that you’re on the right track. Just take things one step at a time and remember — this stuff is supposed to be fun, so relax and enjoy sharing your work with the world. I hope we can help you along the way!

  • I published two books with a small publishing house but couldn’t get a contract for my other manuscripts. When we moved last year and I found myself in a new place I thought it was time to try a new path for my books. I had wondered about self-publishing before but self-publishing had a bad reputation in Germany. Things are changing now and I wanted to go along. KDP Germany started just in time for my first ebook and when Create Space Europe came along in June I published a printed version. Now I have to focus on marketing …

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story, Martina. I’m fascinated to hear about the perception of self-publishing around the world! We certainly hope to help you build your fanbase, so stay tuned and don’t hesitate to give us a shout with any specific questions that pop up :-)

  • I began writing when I was twelve, just to cope with all the bullying and the pressure that school put on me (being a genius’ sister and having severe PTSD makes school even more difficult than it is ordinarily). My teenage stories slowly developed into one story, and by my twenty-first birthday I wrote my first book. I didn’t have a title back then, but I sent it off to three or four local New Zealand publishers, who all either said “no” or just didn’t even respond. One, I think it was Penguin, suggested I re-write my book for the adult market (it was for teens at that point) and to then try again. I did. 2004, after writing part time while getting my bachelors, I finished a complete re-write of Time Speaker and submitted it to the same publisher and three or four more. I think I got one actual reply and nothing else.

    After all that work, I couldn’t give up. I got obsessed with getting my book good enough for a yes letter. For several years, I did everything I could think of to learn to better my craft. With each major shift in my writing skills, I would resubmit my manuscript to publishers. When I ran out of NZ publishers to submit to, I started submitting to slush piles around the world. In total, I re-wrote Time Speaker from scratch four complete times and about three or four more partial times. I lost count of the publishers I submitted to when I got past about 15.

    In 2009, I came across a group of fellow writers who talked about self-publishing and I spent a long time investigating it. In 2010, I decided to publish my book myself and started teaching myself how to create a website for the series of which Time Speaker was the first book. With the help of a lot of fellow writer friends and their friends and a crapload of luck, Time Speaker was re-edited, proofed, formatted and given an awesome cover design. I finally self-published Time Speaker, in March this year (

    I have one self-pubbed book, three more in the works, a massive website (https://keyanadrake.com/index.html) and the persistence to keep going until I’m in a place where I’m living off of my writing. I’ve been working for two years at this self-published and self-marketing thing, and although I’ve sold almost 100 copies of Time Speaker and have maybe a dozen readers online, things aren’t progressing particularly fast. I feel overwhelmed and I have bouts of being afraid that I’m not good enough. But I will keep at it. One thing I do have is determination. I’m here on this site to find out what more I can do to get readers, and to learn new marketing strategies, though, my budget is really really low right now, so things that cost money are problematic.

    • Wow! You’ve been working really hard, Ke-Yana! How excited were you when “Time Speaker” was finally done and published and you held it in your hand for the first time? That’s pretty much the best feeling ever, right? Especially after everything you went through — all the re-writes, edits, query letters. Self-publishing isn’t a short process and it requires a ton of work, I don’t think enough people realize that but the more they hear stories like yours the more our reputation as indies will increase.

      You have the perfect indie spirit too — that “keep on keepin’ on!” mentality that never gives up, just keeps pushing forward. I’m so glad you found us and shared your story!

      We completely understand authors on a limited budget (who isn’t?). But as you’ve learned in your journey, what you lack in funds you can make up for with some time and elbow grease. I’m sure you’ve already stumbled across our free tools and I know you’re taking the free marketing course right now as well. That should help you get a leg up on establishing your marketing foundation for the future!

      If there’s any other way we can be of help to you on your path to success, just give us a shout :-)

  • Jean

    I want to e publish several books in the self-help, therapy areas. I’m a practicing psychotherapist and know I could help many more people if I could get my therapy approach written out and distributed. Haven’t written anything organized yet, just have notes and a general outline in my head. Thinking of doing several e-books and just asking around regarding the best process and tools to use to let people know my work is available…whenever it gets available. Hints? Ideas? I have sooo much to learn about this whole process…Help !

    • Hi Jean! You so sound like the two of us back when we self-published Shannon’s first novel. All of the steps, choices and paths made my head spin! Our advice is, no matter your genre or goals, to build a fanbase from scratch. Stay tuned for our upcoming book marketing course for more on that, and check out our reader-centered marketing series for a primer on what we’ll cover!

  • Haha I just laughed when you mentioned the pet penguin! My first foray into self-publishing is a middle grade fiction story about two boys who steal a penguin to impress a girl (well, that’s the basics – obviously it is a bit more complicated than that!) I’m a bit nervous because children’s books are a bit tougher to sell online and as eBooks – and I’m doing all this from Australia!

    • LOL — I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my penguin love. I’d certainly be impressed by a stolen penguin! Children’s books can be a whole different animal (no pun intended) than the general fiction we usually help with, but I still think many of our tactics will be useful for you. Stay tuned for the book marketing course and don’t hesitate to holler if there’s anything we can help with :-)

  • PTD

    I’ve been writing down stories since I was in grade school, getting them printed in class and school newsletters or stapling them together myself with original crayon illustrations (OK, that was 1st grade, but still . . . ) In trying to turn pro, I’m that guy who keeps sending material but never quite seems to have sense enough to take “no” for an answer — the rejections from the comic book companies in high school, from the magazine publishers in college, the TV productions as a younger adult, and from the big book publishers in more recent years.

    But if I didn’t think my stories were good, I wouldn’t keep trying. Now we have the technology to inexpensively publish and reach out to audiences without the gatekeepers of editors and agents and producers, and I’m going to try to bring stories straight to their audiences. A year from now, we’ll see who’s reading . . .

    • Your attitude is spot-on, PTD. Determination and perseverance are two of the best qualities an indie author can have — along with confidence, of course! It sounds like you have a perfect goal in mind, and we hope to be able to help you along the way. Don’t hesitate to give me a shout if you need any support!

    • Bette A. Stevens

      I like your story of persistence, PTD. Mine is similar. Writing, getting rejected again and again. Finally had my first children’s book published by a small local publisher. They never sent me a proof and I was sorely disappointed in the results. That was in 1996. A few years ago, I got my rights back and knew that I would try to self-publish my second edition. I was a teacher for 8 years and before that an editor and desktop publisher for a large company. During that time, I also wrote a couple of articles for a rural magazine. As for writing, I’ve been doing that since who knows when. I have boxes and files of THINGS I’ve written over the years. Once I self-published my first book on Amazon through CreateSpace, I knew that I had to illustrate a story I’d written and used in the classroom for years. So, that’s what I did. Now, I’m working on a KDP ebook for that title (all of this IT takes time for me to learn). Also started a blog, where I’m writing some poetry, short articles and sharing the fountain of knowledge from other bloggers. This course is helping me get more focused, but I have a long way to go. So glad we’re all in this together and that Toni and Shannon are here to help us over some of the potholes on the bumpy road to self-publishing. Like many of you, I want to know HOW TO SELL my books. Right now I’m focusing on a small audience: local schools, libraries and any local events where I can have a table. I’m writing children’s books right now, but have many others in the ‘garage’. It’s great to hear about all of you! Bette A. Stevens

  • I loved reading your story! As for me, I self-published my memoir over a month ago. I didn’t build a platform prior and now my focus is on finding my audience and marketing which I find a bit daunting.

    • Marketing can feel totally overwhelming, Andrea. I still get that feeling myself sometimes! The key is to take it one day (and one fan) at a time and keep at it, no matter what. :-)

  • Keri Peardon

    I was entering my second year of unemployment when a friend posted a link on Facebook to National Novel Writing Month. I wrote a lot of fiction in college, but got burned out and had mainly limited myself to the occasional non-fiction article on Squidoo (mostly on medieval history) since that time. But, as I was depressed about my employment prospects, I decided to write some cheesy romance story or something for shits-and-giggles; that, at least, would be a goal I could accomplish.

    Not quite three years later, on August 31, 2012, I self-published my first novel (which turned into a not-too-romantic, totally-non-cheesy urban fantasy). And it spawned a trilogy and a prequel, plus I tried my hand at a historical romance, which is turning into two books. So, in all, I have 1 published book, 2 published novellas, and five more novels and a novella (or two) in the queue.

    While I did end up getting a job, I’m making a lot less money than I was before and my husband’s business is almost non-existent. So I’m hoping that I can not only write/sell enough in the next year or two to be able to start writing full-time, but I’m also hoping to lift us out of poverty.


    • It sounds like you’re on the right track, Keri! Congratulations on publishing your book — I certainly hope we can help you reach those goals. You can do it! :-)

    • Keri, it was the “3-Day Novel Writing Contest” out of Canada that caught my eye and motivated me to write my first book. The idea of paying money to enter and then not finally get all the thoughts out of my head was a no-brainer. I didn’t win, thank goodness but it was the trigger I needed to move forward. 😉 Lisa M Buske, https://LisaMBuske.com

  • H.B. Bolton

    My first novel, Glimmers, was completed a year and a half ago. I sent queries to agents, had a few nibbles, but it was rejected over and over. Last summer, I set it aside and started a middle-grade fantasy novel, The Serpent’s Ring. After working on it for about six months, I revisited Glimmers. I finally saw why it was rejected and revised like crazy. I self published in April and have been very happy with its moderate success. I understand that I need to give it time and a sequel to see it reach an even higher level. I self published The Serpent’s Ring in August and just started a blog tour.
    I too started building my platform late and wished I had started much sooner – oh, well. It’s a bit tricky managing two different genres and two different pen names, but I’m getting the hang of it. I really enjoy my facebook fanpages, Pinterest, Goodreads, and the blog tour. I’ve also visited a few schools and have been re-inspired by the students’ enthusiasm.
    I’m always eager to learn something new about self pubbing and look forward to what you both have to say :) Thanks for opening the conversation.

    • It’s wonderful to meet an author who loves social media — to some of us it can feel like a chore! I’m glad that it’s something you enjoy, because it is *so* effective (when used properly, of course). I also love the idea to visit schools; Shannon did that back in the day and got recognized around town afterwards. She totally felt like a celeb! Thank you for sharing your experience, HB.

  • Jerry Dunne

    I have spent many years developing as a writer and find that the traditional publishing route is a tough one to break. You need the right kind of book at the right time. Even then you must be lucky. I am a British children’s writer, selling ebooks and am just turning them into paperbacks as well for sale on Amazon. I have also written a non-fiction book about writing short stories for children that is selling better than the stories at the moment. The trouble is, I believe, that only certain books in general are being bought in big numbers on the ebook platforms for now. This may change in the next few years. Next year I am going to write some adult crime thrillers and another non-fiction about short story writing.
    I have no marketing experience and have done practically nothing to try and push my books to date.
    The thing I love the most about self-publishing is that you can write what you want and publish it for free, and you don’t have to worry whether a publisher will be interested in it or not. All you have to worry about is whether your book is well written, informative and will appeal to your target audience or not.

    • I totally agree, Jerry — it definitely takes more than just a great book. Timing and luck are huge factors! Thank you for sharing your story :-)

  • Melissa Bowersock

    Great story! Writing is such an isolating endeavor; you’re fortunate that you had a supporting friend to help along the way. I have fought my way through the publishing ups and downs by myself; hard work, frustrating and daunting, but I learned a heck of a lot along the way. My first 2 books were published by a NY house, and my next 3 books were picked up by small presses. Since that time, I have self-published my last 5 books, and could not be happier. I love doing all the design work, I love having full control, I love making the book look exactly like I want it. Self-publishing is definitely the way to go!

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Melissa! It sounds like you have a ton of experience and are totally embracing the DIY mindset, which we LOVE. Rock on!

  • Great story. Both of you write with a lot of energy and fun, I like it. My best friend of 25 years (we met in grade 3) was also instrumental in my book’s polishing. He is the fastest reader I know and a wonderful critic. After 3 (THREE!) read-throughs, my book is so much better because of him.

    As far as where I am in the process, my first novel just released Friday. The whole process, from idea to paper to Amazon, has been 2 years. I went back and forth over those 2 years trying to decide how to publish. When I finally realized 6 months ago I wanted all the control that comes with indie, I never looked back. I’ve created something I’m very proud of.

    Looking forward to all the info you provide on marketing.

    • Yes, Rob, control is key. I’m so glad you relish the opportunity to take the reins of your career! Can’t wait to see your results :-)

  • Great story! I look forward to getting some great marketing ideas from you guys!

  • Tyme

    I am working with a mentor and she put me on a schedule to put my book together. I am WAYYYYY behind. Publishing is still somewhere in the foggy future.

    • Get back on track, Tyme! You can do it — seeing your book in print will be worth it, right? 😉

  • *sniffle* Thank you so much, Mell! It means so much to us to become part of your life like that. Just from reading your story, the passion and effort you have put into your marketing is clear and gives me the inkling that you’ll do just fine! If there’s anything we can do to help you out, though, our inbox is always open. :-) And, no worries about screwing up — it’s not screwing up but learning, right?

  • hey from portland,oregon! i think i discovered you on twitter. i love social media and consider this the most exciting time in the history of humankind to be a writer. my first book was published through an “assisted” self-pub company. big learning curve there. i am determined to solely self-pub this point on with an emphasis on digital books. i’m going through your resources having signed up for your current online class Be an Indie Author Rockstar. I am eager to learn new tools and fine tune the ones I have. Thank you Toni and Shannon for your generous spirits to help others along the way!

    • Oh my goodness Pam, you rock! Thanks for all the kind words :-)

      Glad you’re enjoying the Rockstar course! We totally agree that this is a super exciting time to be an author. There are so many options and opportunities out there to build your career and connect with fans all over the world, it’s really fantastic.

      I’m so glad you’ve found us, if there’s anything else we can help with please feel free to send us an email anytime!

  • songdove

    My response is in your inbox somewhere. Your emails to me are being tagged as spam by my mail server, so its possible the return response might have ended up in your spam box.

    • Hi songdove! Sorry to hear you had a problem with our email, have you added us to your safe senders list? I didn’t see a response from you in our emails (unless it didn’t have songdove in it). Could you try to send it again please? We would love to hear your story!

  • suz

    Hi Toni and Shannon. I loved hearing your story.
    Mine goes something like: after having several near misses with agents (the last of which I worked with for over a year and did three rewrites before said agent decided she wasn’t going to take a chance on my manuscript) I decided to self pub my YA novel, ShockWaves, which is an action/adventure with a telepathic twist.
    I’ve had it edited and have just got it back from my proofreader so I’m almost ready to start formatting for an ebook (how hard can it be lol).
    I’ve got a website (not completely ready to be launched into the world), a twitter account (but I don’t really ‘get’ twitter) and a facebook page (that I do like :-) say hello at https://www.facebook.com/SuzannaWilliamsAuthor).
    Finding some good advice on your site :-)

    • Hey Suz! Man, what a frustrating experience that must have been with your last agent, yeesh. That’s so disappointing, but I’m glad you kept pressing forward and found self-publishing! It feels much better to take all the control — there’s a lot of pressure, yes, but a lot of reward as well. :-)

      Can you give me your Facebook link again? It got cut off in the comment so we couldn’t find you — or just give me your username and I’ll find you on FB so we can stay in touch!

      Let us know if we can help you. We have experience formatting eBooks so if you need some guidance just give us a shout!

    • suz

      Oh, my link did cut off. Here it is again https://www.facebook.com/SuzannaWilliamsAuthor.

      I haven’t started on the formatting yet but I will definitely be in touch when (and not if) I get stuck lol.

      I totally agree that it’s so much nicer to be in control of everything. At least there’s only me to blame.
      See you on FB.

  • writer2050

    I’m in the middle of the second tier of my indie publishing. The first tier was school textbooks which I’m still marketing via email to schools and lots of removes. Response has averaged 3 books a market. This year I’m offering the e-books for free and getting a much bigger response, even in the school hols. The second tier is ‘straight’ writing, no research though there are questions for the short stories. I also wrote a ‘how to’ book under a non de plume. I have the last 2 with Smashwords and Kindle but many looks for the short stories and one sale – they are e-books. So I welcome any ‘how to sell’. I’m working on a Word Press (writer2050) but having difficulties fighting my way around it eg. widgits. At least I can post to it and have a header.

    • Wow, putting together school text books is really ambitious, kudos to you on tackling that! Are your textbooks what you’re offering as a free eBook now? I never thought about such a thing as electronic text books but it really makes a lot of sense — and I know at least one of our local schools bought iPads for all the students to use in the classrooms so that would be perfect.

      It sounds like you’ve got several irons in the fire with you textbooks, short stories and “how to” guides — is there an overlap with the information so you could do some cross-promoting or are they all stand alone topics? If there’s no overlap I would recommend breaking them up and focusing on one campaign at a time, maybe set aside three months to promote the short stories, then switch to the textbooks, then the short stories, etc. so you can really focus all your energy on advancing your sales in each category. Once you get a fanbase built up with all three it will be easier to manage them simultaneously.

      Thanks for sharing your story and please let us know if we can help you with anything!

  • SJ Hailey

    great story. true friends. glad you found, and stayed together (oh that sounds like you are married?) anyway. Thanks for sharing, sent my response by email.

    SJ Hailey

    • Thank you for sharing your story, SJ! Welcome aboard :-)

  • Bette A. Stevens

    Thanks for sharing your story again… Glad to have your two (enormously filled with a wealth of self-publishing info) heads for support, direction and encouragement! Bette

  • Bette

    Writing, getting rejected again and again. Finally had my first
    children’s book published by a small local publisher. They never sent me
    a proof and I was sorely disappointed in the results. That was in 1996.
    A few years ago, I got my rights back and knew that I would try to
    self-publish my second edition. I was a teacher for 8 years and before
    that an editor and desktop publisher for a large company. During that
    time, I also wrote a couple of articles for a rural magazine. As for
    writing, I’ve been doing that since who knows when. I have boxes and
    files of THINGS I’ve written over the years. Once I self-published my
    first book on Amazon through CreateSpace, I knew that I had to
    illustrate a story I’d written and used in the classroom for years. So,
    that’s what I did. Now, I’m working on a KDP ebook for that title (all
    of this IT takes time for me to learn). Also started a blog, where I’m
    writing some poetry, short articles and sharing the fountain of
    knowledge from other bloggers. This course is helping me get more
    focused, but I have a long way to go. So glad we’re all in this together
    and that Toni and Shannon are here to help us over some of the potholes
    on the bumpy road to self-publishing. Like many of you, I want to know
    HOW TO SELL my books. Right now I’m focusing on a small audience: local
    schools, libraries and any local events where I can have a table. I’m
    writing children’s books right now, but have many others in the
    ‘garage’. That’s my story, so far… Bette A. Stevens

  • jennastamps

    I replied to the email I received from you but perhaps you didn’t receive my reply…I’ll post my story here too just in case. Thanks for all the inspiration and help!

    Thanks for letting us in to your wealth of experience and knowledge!

    I am half-way through my first book. I’m a full-time mom of four
    children, a dedicated spouse to a college professor of music (just
    completing his doctorate finally after experiencing our long road
    through college together that began in 1992!), a singer, an artist, an
    athelete… Growing up, I never conceived of the idea that I would be a
    writer someday. Just this past year I have begun to develop this new
    talent, and I have found it so astoundingly satisfying! I feel like I
    have only got my pinky toe in the door of the writing world, and I’m
    trying to soak up all of the information and am learning about this
    craft as much as I can.

    I am writing this book–a non-fictional account of my personal
    journey to finding “Mr. Right”–because I felt it was begging me to
    write it. Maybe others have written similar stories, but… no one else can write THIS book, because it’s my story, and I
    believe it needs to be written, not just lived! I am having so much
    fun referencing all of my old diaries (I have been a journal-writer my
    whole life) and quoting them in the book. I can’t wait to see what it
    turns out to be in the end, including perhaps a fictional embellished
    version, to reach an additional audience.

    I am so happy to belong now to the vast world of writers, and aspire to be the best one I can be!

    Jenna Lovell

    If you have time/interest to take a peek at my book, it’s called “The
    Falling Part”, and I’ve got the work-in-progress on my blog:


  • Mel Parish

    I published my first mystery novel ‘Silent Lies’ as an e-book last November and then in print in July. By that time, I had written four novels and queried several agents with each, even to the point of doing suggested revisions, but each time they ultimately decided the book was not for them. With the advent of e-books I couldn’t see what I had to lose by trying to self-publish at least one of my novels. The book had been professionally edited and I got a young art student to do the cover, but I did all the formatting, etc.myself, including changing the one page e-book cover into a print cover. As I don’t consider myself a computer whiz, sometimes the frustration was immense, but finally overcoming all the various obstacles gave a tremendous boost to my confidence – it’s amazing what you can learn if you really want to! I guess I concentrated more on getting the book published then on the marketing so while it has sold, sales are slow so, sadly, I seem to be spending more time now on marketing and promotion than on writing or getting the next book ready to publish. Problem is, there are just not enough hours in the day:)

  • Jack Morgan

    Hi everyone, I just read through all the responses here and get the sense that we’re all feeling the same vibe, although some of us have a much more challenging journey with familial and other responsibilities. And during the holidays, financial constraints make our belts feel even tighter on the midriff, figuratively speaking. I self-pub’d my first novella exactly 25 days ago to this day (11-12-2012) and I’m still waiting to see if the world is gonna end :-/ this month, but planning forward anyway – been there, done that {12/31/1999} Ha! Given the testimonials shared, I felt compelled to share my marketing experience with everyone here – in hopes that it may benefit other writers too.

    Background: I came across Inkwell Editorial well over a year ago and was really inspired by Yuwanda Black. I immediately created a blog site: iwritedrama.wordpress.com (and chose iWriter as a nickname because I loved watching iCarly with my son Sebastian). I’ve shared portions and entire chapters of my romance novel with my friends on Facebook for about a year and 3 months, which culminated in about 400 hits to the blog at the time of publication. It was hard to finish the book because of work, family, and other distractions…like going to my favorite jazz bar in Miami EVERY Tuesday night. Okay, then there was the fear of rejection which kept me from sitting down to write the next chapter. Well, on November 4th of this year I was fired from my teaching job! I had just turned in the grades for the first quarter and 44% of my students were failing. There was only 2 reasons: a) I’m a bad teacher or b) the students are not doing their job (turning in work). Not to boast, but I thought I was pretty good: dedicated, creative, informative, available, etc.

    I was floored at having lost my job! Especially during the holidays! And especially after turning down 2 jobs in Miami to come here (one of them being honors English!) So what’s a guy to do? I filed for unemployment and got fired up to finish my novel! I wrote 4 chapters in 3 days! I spent a few more days figuring out how to self-pub an eBook on Lulu, then drafted my word doc for Create Space and proofed the paperback version yesterday. BTW, it looks super awesome (holding the proof in my hands).

    Today: I’ve had 493 hits to date, and representing people from over 15 countries outside the U.S.); that’s 93 new hits in the past 30 days!

    One reason is because I had built a platform of fans/friends over the past year, granted. I gave out at least 15 free copies of my eBook anyone who asked for it. This is a good marketing tool because word of mouth is the best advertising you can get, and that’s free marketing! But I’ve also tried a few other things. I’ve heeded the WISE advice of Duolit and created a digital marketing kit and explored some of the press release avenues. Doing this led me to discovering two PR firms: Alicanto and Vocus. I haven’t tried using Alicanto since creating my account because it seems to be mainly e-mail and social media feed based. The second one, Vocus, costs money. But they are offering a 30 day trial since they’re a new company. I have been using it daily and getting awesome results so far!

    PRWeb gives you 2 press releases through Vocus and I issued my first release 3 days ago and it was already picked up by 2 outlets, resulting in 16 clicks from the press release onto my blog, and 12,439 impressions (article reads) in 3 days! This is huge in the marketing world! I can’t wait to see what happens next!

    All you do is load your dashboard every day and take five minutes to follow their suggestions (follow someone on twitter, interact with someone on twitter, share someone’s post on FB, etc). It super easy to do and will build your alliance with little effort on your part. The 3rd thing I’m implementing, slower than the previous resource, is called Rapid Video Blogging by Gideon Shalwick. Having read the course pack and watched the videos, which is cleverly done BTW, there seems to be a lot of truth in YouTube video marketing as the next big thing.

    So I made a book trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kf1tePAaHUg – (in case you want to see/critique it; my first time doing that) and have had 43 hits so far. The RVB course teaches you how to make tons of videos to massively increase your exposure (viral marketing). I haven’t made a second video yet, but can’t wait to make a dozen of them, then sit back and watch what happens. I’ve seen some silly things out there with thousands and thousands of hits, millions even. There, I’ve said TOO Much!

    In closing, I invite all of you to link up with me on twitter, Facebook, wordpress, etc. and let me link back to you. It’s rewarding to have a peer network of indie writers going through the same struggles/excitements together. Life is a circle, we all have our ups and downs. It’s being patient and grateful for the little things when you are down, but humble and generous when you are up that makes life more grand and rewarding!

    Thanks again, Duolit, for all the AMAZING resources that you share with us and for adding your personal touch to it. Hope to see you at one of the meetups soon!

    Jack Morgan

  • I began my self-publishing career in 2006 with the release of the first novel in my series, “Dawn of Destiny.” This was before the world of POD books and e-books had really taken off, so it was definitely a move that garnered a, “what the heck are you doing?” response from more than a few folks. But I’m a control freak. I was never really worried about traditional publishers not accepting my work as much as I was terrified that they would. Then what would I do? Write what they want me to write? Change what they want me to change? I’m very much into the artist’s vision. I know what works and what doesn’t for my story. I also know how to package it, and that was a big deal to me. I wanted a say-so in the cover, the design process, everything. I wanted the buck to stop with me. That’s just not the kind of freedom one gets when working with a traditional publisher. So with every rejection letter I received, I breathed a small sigh of relief. My series (Epic) was still mine.

    So going indie was a no-brainer for me, even though it was very much against the industry norm. It “felt” right, even amid the very real threat of the series never taking off. Let’s face it, most self-published works don’t. That was especially the case in 2006. But “Dawn of Destiny” came out of the gate strong, and within a year, Epic’s second installment, “Outlaw Trigger,” was released. Fast-forward half a dozen years, and Epic is a series four-books long and with a decently-sized fan base. I write slowly, but this is something I’m okay with. I’m very much a chunk writer, so I do my best to write when I’m inspired. It’s not uncommon for me to have 5,000-word writing sessions when I’m really rolling, then to go for three weeks without touching MS Word. Is this as financially advantageous as pumping out a new book every ten months? Not at all. But I don’t think anything can rival the quality of a novel that’s been thought-out and allowed to flow at its own pace, inspired from start to finish. That’s more valuable to me than having twenty books to my name. With that said, I would like to write a bit faster! Right now I’m averaging a book every three years. Granted, these books are beastly in length (they’re hitting between 150k-160k words a piece), but three years is still a long span. I’m a fan of Blizzard’s “when it’s done” motto in regards to releasing new titles. I adopt that with my own writing. But I still know it can be frustrating for the fan base. I do hope to improve there.

    Right now, I have so much on my plate it’s ridiculous, not the least of which is a gargantuan audiobook adaptation for “Dawn of Destiny.” I try to be unique and do things others haven’t done before, so I really have gone all out with this audiobook. It’s fully cast with over two dozen voice actors, and its own music and sound effects. I’ve always hated the way audiobooks tend to be one person reading a story and playing the role of all the characters. I wanted to produce the equivalent of an audio movie. Feel free to check out a trailer for it at https://youtu.be/KkSkXISQ0mM . Definitely let me know what you think! This is a project that’s years in the making.

    My big struggle right now is learning how to be relevant in social media, and really how to sell the series to new fans. I’m good at creating – I just suffer from now knowing what to do with things once I’ve created them. I don’t know how to get new fans. Epic has sold several thousand books basically relying on word-of-mouth, which is a good thing, but still not what I feel the series has the potential to do. I have a lot to learn in ways that have nothing to do with actual book production. I know that if I can learn these things, a larger fan base can be cultivated. I want people to know that Epic is a fun series that’s doing new things and going places. Figuring out the right way to do that is definitely a lesson I need to learn (and am looking forward to learning).

  • HJ Daly

    It’s great to hear so many stories and see how we all seem to feel the same at some point in our journey. I am publishing my debut novel in February and have to admit I am so excited and totally scared at the same time. I began to write for ‘fun’ when my youngest son started full time education. It took me 6 months to get my first draft finished. It might have taken me a little longer to get it into the condition today, lets face it, my youngest is now 11. I was so lucky to get where I am as I sent my work to an editor that my friend knew. Once she had edited it, she came back to say she co-owned a small independent publishing company and she signed me up. They have given me a release date and I’m beginning to panic as I have no idea how I am going to get my name out there and hopefully get some kind of fanbase. Here’s hoping.

  • M.R. Buttars

    I just joined, but I am already super excited about finally finding a source of help. Thanks for putting together this awesome service! Over the past year and a half I’m pretty sure I’ve nearly driven myself mad trying to figure this whole book writing/publishing mess out. I am in the final self editing stages of my first manuscript. I’ve hired a professional editor, and just need to save up enough money to actually have her do her job. I’ve downloaded the formatting guide for Smashwords, but have yet to read it. I’ve got all sorts of how to books for writing, formatting, and editing. I look at it all though and want to scream. I have a FB and Twitter account, but have no idea how to use it effectively. I have a blog and some people actually follow it, but I’m lucky if I get two hits a day. :( Ultimately I want to provide fun, clean, fantasy adventures for all ages through self-publishing. I don’t care if I’m an international bestseller, though that would be awesome, but I would like to get at least some people interested in my works. Based on the lack of hits, and reads so far though, I’m wondering if it is even worth continuing on this journey. I know the book is good because the rare person who reads it does love it, but getting attention in the busy social media and book world has been impossible. I’m hoping once the book is actually published it will get more attention, but then again, I know it doesn’t always work that way. So I trudge ahead, try to make sense of this mess, and hope my dreams don’t just stay dreams.

  • I used Createspace to self publish my second book. Although there was so much freedom with self publishing my book, I also had stresses.Like the format being all wrong or the bleed was w wrong and things like that. However, the joys I found were good! I agree about what to price your books. I had to see who had a book with 100 pages or more and see what they priced their books. With Cretaespace I paid to have my books distributed elsewhere but I did not know I had to be the one to contact bookstores to sell my books. I would use CS again because I can buy my books at a low price. Someday I would love to have a known publisher do my book

  • I’ve had experiences over the years with freelance writing. I always said I’d have time for a real writing career once I retired from my day job. I did “retire” in 2005. I’ve been pushing my writing ever since. I just put together a two-volume set of the poetry I wrote from 1962-2012. It’s my fifty year anniversary of writing. The title is Pastiche of Poetry. Many of the poems were award winners or previously published individually. It’s been a difficult learning curve working with a Print on Demand company. Volume I is in the mail to me (I gave up making it perfect) and Volume II is being “designed”. In the meantime, I contracted with a cooperative publisher to publish just my religiously inspired poems into a smaller book titled God, My Greatest Love. My daughter-in-law, an unemployed graphics artist, designed the art work on all three covers using my photographs (except for the dove). You can see her incredible work on my web page https://www.RoseKlix.com. God, My Greatest Love should be back from the printer next week.
    I also write prose, both fiction and nonfiction short works and wrote 28 chapters of a novel. A couple of my skits and one-act plays have been produced and I’m starting to send those for publication.
    Now I’m working on several ideas for marketing the poetry books – poetry readings, book signings, workshops, etc. But I still want time to continue to finish up the other projects.
    My advice is to not wait until retirement to get serious. I have way too many starts and too many projects backed up in my head, my computer, and in boxes in my closet. I plan on working them all the rest of my life or until I run out of things to say.

  • I’m interested in your experiences. Best Wishes.

  • Thank you Shannon and Toni for guiding us through this scary process. I already love your personalities and your Cracker Barrel story. Best Wishes.

  • I drafted my first manuscript in 2006 and then buried it on a shelf and deep in the memory of my computer. In 2008, I tried again but wasn’t ready for the emotional toll to finish writing, edit, rewrite, edit, and relive the story. Thankfully, God opened my heart and prepared me in 2010. I attended my first writers’ conference and returned home with a fury of energy and guidance from the Holy Spirit to finish the book.

    My first book written is titled, “Where’s Heidi? One Sister’s Journey” and it’s about my eighteen year-old sister’s kidnapping. My sister, Heidi M Allen was kidnapped while working alone at the local convenience store in Upstate New York. It was Easter Sunday and she remains missing today. My book chronicles kidnapping through the eyes of the sister searching for her best friend, and sister, Heidi. It is both a journey of search and rescue and of God. I walked away from God when Heidi disappeared yet through the journey in the years following her disappearance I found Him again and it has been an uphill journey ever since.

    My book releases on April 3, 2013. I spent two years searching for a traditional publisher. I had offers for an e-book only contract, for contracts to publish that benefited the publishing house far more than me, and a couple rejections. It was through the last rejections that I was prompted to self-publish. My last rejection was from a large Christian publishing house. My book made it to the final round for acceptance, the only reason it was rejected, because they anticipate it selling 50,000 books. Neither did I, so we are in agreement. But two of this same publishing house’s editors and an editor from a different publishing company have helped me through some of the hurdles of self-publishing.

    I LOVE the self-publishing process. Yes there are constant bags under my eyes and sometimes the goose-egg on my forehead from banging my head on the wall deter me but with God leading the way, I’ve made it over each hurdle. I look forward to my book’s release on the anniversary date of my sister’s kidnapping. This was a reason I turned down contracts too, this book is for my sister so the April third release date was a must, the only way to manage this, is to self publish.

    I released a second book last week, “When the Waves Subside – There is Hope” too. My second book was released first, isn’t that great. Only in self-publishing. It is formatted like a children’s book yet has an adult message of hope for the grieving parent.
    Another aspect of the self-publishing venue is marketing. I’ve invested a lot of time, money, and energy for two years prior to my book’s release to ensure the most people know of its content and release. At times this can be tiring but the feedback and encouragement along the way are fuel for soul. When God is leading, no where to go but forward.
    Whether it is God or my first-born/now only child attributes that spur me on to completion, or the combination thereof – I am thankful for God’s leading to self-publish. I continue to meet wonderful people and the decision of where and when to speak, when and where to sell, and to have a second book come out in close relation to the other’s release – all up to me.
    To Him be the Glory
    Lisa M Buske

  • Ann Marie Thomas

    I live in Swansea on the edge of Gower in South Wales, but until recently I knew nothing about it’s history except for its significant industry in the last two hundred years. Before that I assumed it was insignificant, just the crossing-place of the River Tawe. But one day I had my eyes opened. Swansea has a castle in the centre of town, and Gower is full of castles. One day I looked up at the ruins of Swansea Castle and
    wondered what it was like in its heyday. So I went and found out.

    The result was my book Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth. It tells the story of Alina de Breos, heir to the Lordship of Gower
    in the early 14th century. Her father had money problems and tried to sell her inheritance, so her husband John de Mowbray seized Swansea Castle. But the king got involved and the other Marcher Lords were against this. John’s action started a rebellion that developed into virtual civil war, and ended in Edward II being toppled from the throne. Unfortunately all did not go smoothly, and John lost his life and Alina ended up in the Tower of London!

    The title of the book comes from the story that Alina’s ghost appears in Oystermouth Castle, and they call her the White Lady. On her release
    from the Tower she remarried and lived out her life there, building the chapel that has recently been refurbished. Visitors to the castle hear about Alina, but there was no information about her before this book.

    A publisher explained to me why no one would touch it – because it’s such a niche market – so I self-published. I had no idea how to go about it, so it’s been a steep learning curve. In the middle of writing the book I had a major stroke which left me disabled, so I had that to fight at the same time as publishing my book. Because it has to be available for tourists I paid a local printer as well as putting it on ebook. It came out at Easter 2012, and by October had broken even, and is now well in profit.

    And now I am writing a second book about Gower history, and preparing to do it all over again.

  • Great story, and very well told too! So glad to have found you and because I had my children over for the weekend, today I have started the weekend course. My story is that I have enjoyed writing since school; I made stories on cassettes as if they were little movies; I then made movies on a Super 8 cine camera before life took over. I went into theatre, then TV then into office work. Suddenly, I wanted to write again and wrote a book for my children called Pirates Vs Fairies. Since then I have done readings at schools and written another book, as well as performing some of my poems and producing them in an art exhibition. I have written plays that have been performed and this year will be directing my first play in a festival. I am living my artistic/bohemian dream but am terrible at marketing. Duolit is a dream come true for me, as writing the stories the churn around inside my mind is a passion of mine. And it would be very lovely to be able to pay the bills by writing.

    • First off, Pirates vs. Fairies sounds like an AMAZING children’s book. I can’t wait to check it out! I am so glad you found us and hope you enjoy the Makeover book. Building a fanbase is hard work, but immensely rewarding and fun. You can do it!

  • Phil Sims

    First of all, you two young ladies are about the same age as my youngest daughter, born in 1985. I’ll soon be 67. I published my first novel, “Not Without Purpose” this past June through a self-publishing company, Cross Books. I went to a book signing of a local author to quiz her about how she managed to get an agent and found out that after having an agent for three years that wasn’t able to get her a publisher, she self-published. Mentally, I wouldn’t allow myself to start on the next novel until this one was in print. So I self-published. I didn’t make much of an effort to get an agent because I’m no spring chicken and I had no idea how my novel would be received. Since then, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my readers comments and wished I had spent a greater effort trying to get an agent.

    But such is life. So now I’m trying to figure out how to market “Not Without Purpose” while writing two sequels. I’m finding print on demand an obstacle and seeking reviews from major players impossible after more than three months passed the pub date. Perhaps I should have bit the bullet and hired someone to do it for me. My ray of hope is my Midwest Book Review submission. I’ve also entered a couple of book contests. Other wise I will continue to look for places to promote and try to figure out how to get media attention. You mentioned “distribution lists”. What is the answer? What are they and how do I get on them? My website is https://www.philsims.org.

  • Heather Gartside

    I’m just finishing my first manuscript, after a long and dark winter of glorious writing. I’ve looked at lists of literary agents and all the cafuffle involved in courting them; to be honest they seem like an almost extinct race. Surely they are petrified of all us indie authors ‘mushrooming’ all over the world in quiet corners and slipping easily into publishing our own ebooks? I will follow you every morning with your encouraging messages, thank you for taking time to weave a feeling of community and care into our ‘leaps of faith!’

  • It must be amazing to have a relationship like that. I have my husband but, unfortunately, he’s not a reader so he just doesn’t GET it, if you know what I mean? I’m about to self publish my sixth YA book, which I’m excited about. I’ve been doing this for the past couple of years and it’s going really well, I’m developing a following and occasionally get fan mail which is awesome! My long term goal is to be a best selling author – isn’t that everyone’s! lol

    Suzy Turner, YA Author