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Adventures in Self-Publishing - How I Got Started, and You Can Too!

Come learn about reading, writing, and self-publishing from a novelist and indie publisher here in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Are you a writer? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to be one, but figure that the odds are impossible. Perhaps you have lots of ideas, and even some short stories or the beginning of a book tucked away in the back of a drawer, where it will probably languish forever. Because everyone knows that it’s nearly impossible to get a book published.

Well, not anymore. The world of writing and publishing has changed.  Let me tell you about my experience.

I knew that I wanted to write books from the moment I learned how to read.  Everything from Green Eggs and Ham to Pride and Prejudice inspired me and made me want to share my own stories with the world. So in 1992, I began writing a full-length novel.

Of course, with a five year old and a two year old at home, plus a busy career as an attorney, it was tough to find the time. I managed by staying up late, and after a year I had finished that first book, about a law firm started by three women. It was actually inspired by the office I was working in at the time … (shh, don’t tell them).  

Being a newbie novelist, I started at the top. I sent a FedEx letter to the literary agency representing John Grisham. I figured success was around the corner! And for a minute there, it looked like it was. The agency called me back the next day, and I dashed down to New York to meet my future agent. Even more exciting, a friend of a friend was interested in buying the book for a TV producer. My dreams had come true!

Well, not quite yet. That first book had some great ideas but too little conflict. It didn’t get published, and it didn’t get bought for TV. Was I discouraged? Definitely … but I didn’t quit. Life went on. My kids grew up, I stopped practicing law, and I kept writing. I kept honing my craft. I reworked that novel, wrote a second thriller and part of a third. I completed a middle-grade fantasy book, a screenplay-and-a-half, and a comedy about dating.

Making a sale kept getting tantalizingly close. One agent called me after reading an earlier version of my (now) best-selling thriller and told me she loved it. At last! Then a colleague read it and asked her not to take the book on – he said it was too politically controversial. Race and politics, a presidential campaign, and a lot of national turmoil about a conservative radio talk show guy. Sound familiar?

I tried to get published the traditional way for nearly 20 years, sending query letters to literary agents and submitting samples, going to writing conferences and everything else I could think of. As time went on, it became clear that publishers were buying fewer books. The entire industry was tightening up. My chances of breaking in were getting smaller even as my writing was getting better.

At about that point, I started reading about the huge successes possible through self-publishing. While the conventional wisdom still held that publishing yourself was only for the untalented and desperate, some pioneer writers were proving that wrong. Amanda Hocking was probably the most famous – she made $2 million self-publishing. Inspired by her story and others, I jumped in on July 4, 2011, as an “indie” writer. And what an adventure it’s been!

Starting with just a trickle of sales to friends and family, my success has grown to exceed all my expectations. More than 42,000 people have now downloaded RUNNING, my political thriller about two women vying for the presidency. It’s been an amazing experience to get 5-star reviews from folks all over the world. Readers from Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the Jersey shore have written to tell me how they adored Catherine and cheered her bid for the White House … how they hated the bad guy as he got more and more outrageous ... and how they loved the tender Brazilian beauty.

It’s been tremendously exciting to discover that this fictional universe, which came right out of my imagination, has entertained and moved people I’ve never met. I’m still getting used to the idea that I have a novel out and a whole lot of folks are reading it! Self-publishing has been an amazing experience so far, and I have many more stories to share. I even have fans chomping at the bit for my next novel.     

All my life I wanted to be a writer. And suddenly – I am.

For the first time, the tools are in our hands. So for all of you readers out there who have stories of your own to tell, now is the time to go for it.

Happy writing!

For further info on self-publishing, check out my blog. If you want to read a sample of RUNNING for free, click here and download it onto your Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or right to your PC or Mac from the "cloud" with the free Kindle app.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Susan Schoenberger April 18, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Fantastic information, Patrice. Can't wait to read your next blog!

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