Stony the Road I Trod

For the next two weeks I will be blogging about my self-publishing journey.  Over the past year or so, different people have asked me about the publishing process overall and self-publishing specifically.  The first part of the journey will be titled “Stony the Road I Trod” as it relates to my life as I tried to make heads or tails of publishing a book.

rocky_road.jpgI never wanted to self-publish.  Quite honestly, until I wrote my own book, self-publishing wasn’t even a part of my vocabulary.  But after I heard about it, I realized I had encountered quite a few self-published authors, especially at sorority conventions and other local festivals.  I just never realized that they were self-published.  I just considered them all to be authors.

There are so many authors that began their writing career as a self-published author. Authors like Kimberla Lawson Roby (Behind Closed Doors), Tajuana T.J. Butler (Sorority Sisters) and E. Lynn Harris (Invisible Life) got their start selling their books at fraternity and sorority conventions, beauty salons and barber shops, churches, family reunions, and out of the trunk of their car. 

But as the old folks say, there’s nothing new under the sun. 

And the same goes for self-publishing.  Some of America’s best loved authors self-published their books.  Ben Franklin, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling, James Joyce and dozens more were self-published authors.  So if the man who contributed to the Declaration of Independence along with the man who gave us so many delicious mystery tales started their journey as self-published authors . . .

I don’t know the complete history of self-publishing, but from my own observations, there has been a marked increase in self-publishing in the last ten to fifteen years because of the success of authors like Kimberla Lawson Roby and Omar Tyree who were able to transcend self-publishing and acquire an agent.  I belong to several writing groups as well as MySpace and I am amazed at the number of self-published authors out there.  I’m not sure how many tried to find an agent to traditionally publish their book(s), but the number is huge.

When I finished writing Freshman Focus in 2003, I was naïve enough that I really thought I would get a publishing contract right away because my story was all of that.  LOL I consider myself well read and know what makes a good story.  Plus my mama loved the book and isn’t that what counts? 

But as I came to learn over the course of the next 4 years as I worked to publish my story, writing is subjective.  You could have the best story ever, but if that query letter is garbage or doesn’t catch the eye of the agent who is flooded daily with query letters promising that their book is the best, the next Harry Potter, the next Sweet Valley High, the next this, that, and the third, you’re still just another person who has a big file on your computer.

I cannot imagine the tons of e-mail that a literary agent receives in the course of the day.  I imagine it is akin to the amount of SPAM I get in my inbox each day.  But instead of doing a mass delete like me, they actually have to sit there and read them all.

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7 Responses to “Stony the Road I Trod”

  1. Laurel Handfield Says:

    Hey Carla,

    This is going to be very interesting and I can’t wait to read more on your self pub process. Those pictures of the SVH books brought back memories big time.-lol

    I was like you; write a book and think everyone is going to just lap it up. Only now am I realizing that this business is MUCH harder than I originally thought. What a wake-up call.

  2. APPhifer (Alice) Says:

    I’m extremely happy to read your comments on self-publishing.

    I, like many other struggling writers, have the hunger, drive and passion to write but the door closes when it comes to publishers/publishing.
    I’m interested in writing children stories; at the same time, I enjoy writing romance.
    After submitting my manuscript to a Children’s Publisher, they sent over a proposal. I was told my a friend to look other places, because they wanted me to pay them too much money.
    One last question, is it possible for you to give me an approximate cost of
    how much money was out of your pocket; and will continue to self-publish?

    Congratulations again! I enjoy reading your articles.

    Alice in Dallas

  3. carlasarratt Says:

    Laurel,
    Seeing all of those SVH titles bought back a lot of memories for me as well. I read all of those titles in that picture, lol.

    Alice,
    Thanks for commenting. The out of cost pocket added up beyond the cost of my publishing package plus supplies and a few extras here and there in addition to paying my illustrator and website designer.

  4. Stony the Road I Trod 7 « Keeping Up With Carla Says:

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  7. kyra Says:

    Carla,

    Look forward to reading about your journey!

    Best,

    Kyra
    self-published, too!
    “Martha Ann’s Quilt for Queen Victoria”
    http://www.BlackThreads.blogspot.com

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