Friday Speak Out!: One Woman’s Bumpy Road to Self-Publication, Guest Post by Densie Webb

Friday, September 03, 2010
One Woman’s Bumpy Road to Self-Publication

by Densie Webb

After more than a year and a half of writing, revising, editing, proofreading, developing queries, synopses, story log lines, attending webinars on how to write a winning query and pitching more than 60 agents (yes, that’s six-zero) and six (no zero) publishers that accept manuscript submissions directly, and no takers, I decided a couple of months ago to go the self-publishing route. In defense of my apparent pig-headed insanity, I did get a bit of positive feedback along the way, including a close call with a small publisher. But, close doesn’t count in publishing, so I’m soldiering on by myself.

As a part of my self-education on self-publishing, I’ve read everything I could find on the subject. The themes range from “don’t do it, it’s the death knell for your writing career” to “it’s the way of the future; better get in on the ground floor.” While I firmly believe the traditional publishing industry will be around for the foreseeable future, I’m more of the second mind that self-publishing, both via epublications available in online outlets like Smashwords and Kindle Books and print-on-demand (POD) vehicles like Amazon’s CreateSpace are only beginning to throw their weight around. How much influence they will ultimately wield and whether the writing cream will rise to the top and be “discovered” is anyone’s guess, but for right now it’s a brave new world for new authors who are finding it’s tougher than ever to make the Mt. Everest climb to Publication’s Peak.

But self-publication is not as simple as it might sound at first blush. If you’re just beginning to investigate self-publishing options, you’ll soon find it’s a formatting Tower of Bable out there. Each publishing outlet has its own formatting requirements and unless you’re techno savvy or have a friend who leans in that direction and is willing to lend a helping hand, you’ll have to pay someone to format the pages of your book according to some pretty nitpicky specifications. You’ll also need to create a book cover. I’m lucky. I have a computer-savvy artist brother who designed my cover for me. And while you’ll need a front and back cover file for POD, you need only a front cover file for epubs for online display. Once your internal and external files have been submitted and accepted and, in the case of CreateSpace, you’ve approved your hard-copy proof, there’s promotion. Blog? Website? Facebook? Twitter? Virtual book tour?

I don’t know if I’ll sell six copies or six thousand, but I do know that this brave new world of publishing is giving us new authors the opportunity to redefine success on our own terms. And it’s liberating. If it weren’t for these new publication avenues, I would be sticking my manuscript in the bottom drawer, saying goodbye to my characters and crossing my fingers for better publication karma next time. Instead, like any soon-to-be-published author, I’m anxiously awaiting the proof copy of my first novel, The Cure by D.L. Webb, to come in the mail.

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D.L.Webb is a freelance nonfiction writer and editor, who only recently decided to make the perilous leap to fiction writing. You can find her at or

Her self-published novel, The Cure, is available on Amazon.

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Debra Stang said...

Denise, I wish you and your book the very best. I took the "plunge" and self-published my novel, Visiting Grandma, a few years ago. Commercially, I'm sad to say it flopped, but it did pick up some really nice reviews!

D.L. Webb said...

Thanks for the good wishes. I feel like it's some degree of success just having made it to the finish line. I'm concentrating on my second one now. Hoping I've learned a lot in the process of writing the first.

Anonymous said...

D.L., I know this comment comes late, but I just stumbled upon your post. I self-published a middle-grade novel 8 years ago, and it is still selling today. I've gone through 3 printers, Createspace being the latest (and they are wonderful). The best way to market a self-published book is to invest in as many copies as you can afford to and GIVE them to people/organizations that can generate multiple sales for you, such as book clubs or schools. I sent my book to middle-school English teachers, and my book is now required reading in several classrooms. Your self-published book CAN be successful if you invest in marketing. I hope this helps.

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