Before I self-published, I didn’t know of all the advantages self-publishing offers or that it was the savvy author’s way to get books in the hands of readers. My only regret is I didn’t do it sooner.

I have a confession to make. I never planned to self-publish my first book. I planned on getting an eye-popping advance from one of the Big 5 after a wild auction. Unfortunately, they didn’t share that vision.

When I finally self-published my book, admittedly, it was the last resort. I had promised myself that if I was unable to sell my book or find an agent to represent me, I would not tuck it in a drawer and forget about it. No. I worked too hard. If that happened, I would self-publish. That promise reassured me during the querying and submissions and it was comforting until it was my reality. I didn’t think I’d ever use my back-up publishing plan.

Quickly, the consolation prize felt like a booby prize. It was difficult to warm up to the plan I had outlined. I felt like a failure. It’s one thing to self-publish a book when you’re excited. How exactly would I see this through now, feeling half-hearted and insecure? A bunch of rejections can really make you feel differently about the book you were (once) proud of.

Sometimes people ask me, “When did you start writing it, and how long did it take?” I can see them doing the math in their head. “Hmm,” they say, “What took you so long to publish it?”

Anyone who has ever written and published a book will laugh at that question. Non-writers, I think, must confuse the time it takes to write a book with the time it takes to read one. I’m probably the only author on the planet who cringes when a reader says, “I read your book in one night! I couldn’t put it down!” knowing the myriad all-nighters I pulled writing and editing it.

So what took so long? First of all, never underestimate the amount of time it takes to amass 81 rejections. Years. All that time wasted — instead of taking the reins of my writing career and moving forward.

Back then, I didn’t know of all the advantages self-published books have over traditionally published ones, or that self-publishing was the savvy author’s way to do the thing I always wanted: to get my book in the hands of readers. You can’t do that unless you produce something for them to read. And now, doing that is easier and more streamlined than ever — with an array of ways to self-publish, from complete DIY to soup-to-nuts service companies.

It doesn’t matter, in the end, how the book gets to market. You know who taught me that? The hundreds of thousands of readers who’ve bought my self-published book. The same readers who helped it hit the New York Times and USA Today best seller lists.

Do I have any regrets self-publishing my book? Just one. That I didn’t do it sooner.

Join Eva and a host of great presenters, speakers, and exhibitors at BookBaby’s 2018 Independent Authors Conference, November 2-4 at The Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel in Philadelphia! The Independent Authors Conference is the only writing conference dedicated to helping independent authors publish successfully. Register now! Don’t miss this opportunity to listen and learn from some of today’s leading self-publishing experts!


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Eva Lesko Natiello

About Eva Lesko Natiello

Eva Lesko Natiello has written 2 posts in this blog.

Eva Lesko Natiello is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Memory Box, a self-published psychological thriller about a woman who Googles herself and discovers the shocking details of a past she doesn’t remember. Eva is a speaker and essayist whose work on writing, self-publishing, creativity, and perseverance can be found on the Huffington Post and New Jersey Monthly. Eva is a book marketing consultant who helps indie and traditionally published authors broaden their books' visibility and readership.

11 thoughts on “Self-Publishing Is Not A Back-up Publishing Plan

  1. Brad says:

    I could not have said it better myself.

    1. Eva Natiello says:

      Thanks for reading, Brad. Best of luck, and continued success, to you and your writing career!

  2. Michael Yolch says:

    I needed this today. Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Eva Natiello says:

      I know the feeling, and I got the same from reading *your* comment! Thanks, and go get ’em!

  3. It’s refreshing to hear about someone who worked crazy hard on the WRITING part of publishing. My guess is that, aside from your own marketing, your book has sold well because it’s a good book!

    IMHO there are only 3 ways to get traditionally published: 1) you’re famous, 2) you’ve written something highly topical, “I Surf Tidal Waves” or “I was Groped by Senator ____,” 3) you have an author platform of a million+ avid followers (for your dog-grooming biz). Boom, done—everyone else has to self-publish; nothing to do with the quality of your writing.

    You’re doing great!

    1. Eva Natiello says:

      Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments. I agree that the notion of traditional publishing, and also *rejection* from traditional publishers is a whole different ball game these days. If authors should ever *not* take rejection personally, now is that time. It was hard for me *not* to think rejection = crappy book, because I was so green and insecure. But when you see all of the changes in publishing, and understand that agents are having increasing difficult times selling books (especially fiction) you start to realize, it might not be about *me* and *my book.*

      These days, I tell authors, if your goal is to be traditionally published then go ahead and query agents/submit to publishers but prepare your book for self-publishing simultaneously. It makes you feel active instead of passive, and if you eventually self-publish, you’ve wasted no time.

      Best to you, W.M.!

      PS. please don’t attempt the Tidal Wave book . . . 🙂

      1. Katie says:

        This is pretty encouraging to me as someone who is currently sending a book to agents. It helps me not take it so personally. I did almost assume that the rejections indicated a problem with the piece itself, but it seems that is not always the case. Thanks!!

  4. Marti Shoemaker says:

    Let me know when the next conference is please!

  5. John Heberling says:

    I recently self-published simply to fulfill a lifelong dream. I cannot articulate the joy at holding my book in my hands. I am so grateful that self-publishing exists!

  6. Mary Ann says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I was so excited about having written my first book, and when I ended up self publishing it did feel kind of like a booby prize. After five years of hard work, that was a terrible feeling. I very much appreciate you sharing this better perspective. I would love to hear your ideas on how to get it in the hands of readers now. Love and hugs

  7. JB Plato says:

    I self published my book through a publisher and they did a wonderful job. Holding my book in my hands was such an amazing accomplishment. However, because it was such a difficult subject, all my relatives and friends disowned me so to speak. Marketing is hard especially when there’s no one for support. I wish I had the money to hire someone to help me with the marketing, but there is none and now I feel there’s no chance to ever get my book out there for others to read.

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