Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Self-Publishing Journey, One Woman's Journey into the World of Self Publishing

 by Shawndra Russell

photo by Sura Nualpradid
On May 1, I took a big step towards becoming a published author: I launched a Kickstarter, which is a crowd-funding platform used to help not only authors but also musicians, inventors, and artists of all kinds. But the decision to use Kickstarter wasn’t my first choice, and self-publishing wasn’t my first dream.

I’m guessing like me, many of you grew up daydreaming about becoming a big-time author with your hardcover book displayed one day in the same bookstores that you shopped at and your book being adapted into a blockbuster movie. Perhaps you fantasized of flying around the world on a book tour, eating fabulous dinners with equally fabulous people that all loved your book. Maybe you even had aspirations to move to New York City to be in the thick of the publishing industry. 

As an adult, you learn that these fantasies aren’t real and authors, even those successful in financial terms, struggle with this profession that we mostly love but sometimes hate.

You learn the meaning of rejection. That big advances aren’t as big as you imagined, and are harder and harder to come by. The publishing industry has changed forever, and maybe your favorite bookstore has turned into another Subway. You may even wish you could be transported back in time when the path to publication seemed simpler.

Nevertheless, you press on. For me, I started writing my first real novel a year and a half ago. It actually started out as a screenplay—I don’t know why, it just came out that way—and I later transformed it into a novel during NaNoWriMo. After four drafts and a few beta-readers under my belt, I went to New York City to the Writer’s Digest Conference with plans to land an agent that weekend and be on my way to traditional publication by Monday.

What was I thinking?!

At the pitch slam, eight out of ten agents I pitched said they wanted to read more. I was ecstatic. Three months later with five rejections and three no-responses, I stuck to my self-made promise: that I would learn all I could about self-publishing and see if it was right for me; I asked myself if I was capable of going the indie publishing route, and my answer was happily a resounding “Yes!”

But around this time, Kickstarter kept coming onto my radar. I knew a couple of people who had launched a campaign to raise funds for a new invention or an art project, but I hadn’t looked into writers successfully using this platform. Then Chuck Wendig of TerribleMinds raised enough funds to self-publish not one but TWO new books, and I thought, why not try this route?

I am in the middle of my Kickstarter campaign which ends May 31 and still has a long way to go before reaching the target amount of $4000. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing program, so if the entire amount isn’t raised, then no one pays a dime and I don’t get a dime (sniff, sniff).

However, this experience has made me take important steps like letting the world know I have a novel, contacting bloggers about guest posts, and find a professional editor. It’s thrilling to know that I WILL independently publish a book in 2012. Not sign a contract with an agent and then sign a publishing deal only to wait 18 months for my book to be released, but actually be able to share this story with the world. I’m thankful that we have the ability to Self-publish our precious manuscripts with relative ease in terms of the actual uploading of our words—that’s not to say marketing and making actual sales will be a cakewalk!—and be in charge of our careers.

Good luck to all of your on your self-publishing journeys, and please contact me if you have any questions about using Kickstarter or anything else!

You can pre-order Shawndra’s novel through Kickstarter, follow her on Twitter at @ShawndraRussell, and read her published work at

1 comment:

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