Monday, August 31, 2009

Guest Blog Author: Michelle Ann Hollstein

When I wrote my first book, a fantasy novel called NIBERIA, I was jumping into something that I'd never done before. I've always had a passion for books and have always loved to read. I love being whisked away into someone else's world for a while. In college I studied art and obtained my degree in Art Studio with a focus in painting. Well, like most art majors, I didn't become a famous artist. I landed a job sitting in front of a computer doing administrative work.

Day after day of answering phones, entering data into spread sheets and doing other mindless tasks, my creative side was wilting. I was desperate for an outlet for my creativity. I began to write. In between phone calls, when works was slow, I delved into another world. I began to write my first book.

After finishing the story and a year of editing, rearranging and rewriting, I hadn't a clue what to do next. I finished what I would call a written piece of artwork but it wasn't complete. I wanted to be able to display my work of art and show it off. So I went online in search of a way to do that and stumbled across self-publishing.

The process was fairly simple. Everything was done through the mail. I was even able to use my own artwork to construct the cover. All I had to do was submit photographs and a description of what I had in mind. A few short months later, I had a finished novel to show off. And even more exciting than that, it was for sale through online bookstores.

I was addicted. Another story emerged from me in just a few short months. The self-publishing company that I used with my first novel, NIBERIA, was offering a two-for-one deal. All I had to do was publish my second novel, ASHES TO DIAMONDS, and I could published the book for free. The only catch was that I only had one year to do it.

Needless to say, I've just finished writing my seventh novel using their two-for-one deals! If it hadn't been for self-publishing, I would've stopped writing after receiving my first rejection letter from a traditional publisher. I was a novice and overly sensitive. Self-publishing gave me the confidence that I needed to continue writing and hone my craft. For those of you trying to choose between self-publishing and finding a traditional publishing, there are a few factors to consider:

Your work is your own. This is your project and it can be written anyway you please. No one can tell you otherwise.

You own the rights. They're all yours.

You have a say in your cover design. You can include your own artwork or photographs.

It could take years and years to find a traditional publisher who may take a chance on you. With self-publishing, you story is published right away.

If you already have a fan base or have the money to advertise, you're set. Why not do it yourself?

It can become expensive (but from what I understand, there are several companies willing to self-publish your book for free. They get a percentage of each book when they sell it. I'm currently looking into that for my next book).

If you don't have money to advertise and don't have a current fan base, it can be hard to establish one. (Something I'm currently working on).

Self published books cost more money to buy because they're print-on-demand. It can discourage people from buying your books and taking a chance on you if you're a new author.

Overall I'm happy with the path I chose. I enjoy having the creative freedom to let my imagination run wild. My current mission is to develop a fan base and get my name out there. Currently I'm writing a cozy mystery series that takes place in Palm Springs, California. My protagonist, Ms. Aggie Underhill, is from England and moves to Palm Springs to be near her daughter, Sarah, who is married to a United States Marine. My Aggie Underhill mysteries are fun, light, fast-paced books. Aggie isn't what you'd call a sleuth. She's a nosy lady who just happens to get herself involved in all kinds of messes.

I've just started the self-publishing process on my fourth Aggie book, A HARDBOILED MURDER. In this book, the body of a film star crashes on the roof of a moving tramcar, a mystery author is discovered hardboiled and bobbing in a hot tub, a home is ransacked and two grandmothers are battling. Keep an eye out for A HARDBOILED MURDER.

Hopefully, my post on self-publishing has been helpful. Happy writing everyone! Please visit Michelle's web site:

1 comment:

Sarah Ettritch said...

What you've described in your post is subsidy publishing, not self-publishing. If you don't own the ISBNs, and it looks like you don't since Xlibris is listed as the publisher of record, then you didn't self-publish.

If you plan to publish many more novels (and it sounds like you do!), I'd look into true self-publishing. Create a company, buy ISBNs, and publish your own books. Two of the CONs you listed will go away: first of all, depending on how you do it, it will probably be cheaper in the long run than what you're paying your subsidy publisher. The biggest expense will be hiring an editor for your work. You might also want to hire a book designer to do the covers and layouts, but to save on costs, you might be able to do those on your own--there are plenty of resources on the net to help you. The second CON that would go away is the higher book prices you mentioned. If you publish your books yourself, you'll cut out the middleman (your subsidy publisher) and control the discount that's offered to online bookstores. That means you'll be able to price your books more competitively. You may also have a chance of getting into brick and mortar bookstores, something you usually can't do if you subsidy publish.

So I'd suggest that you ditch the subsidy publishing and start self-publishing!