[Why I Self-Published My Books – From Email notifications, click the title for best web viewing]
Have you ever been all psyched up to do something and then for some reason, you just get that feeling that you need to do something else? Yesterday I spent a lot of time working on my blog about Purah. Yes, Purah! He’s the Old Testament guy who no one knows about unless you are quite familiar with Gideon’s story in the Book of Judges! However, I wasn’t “feeling it” as I tried to write the article. I began to feel a nudge to blog about how I chose to self-publish my books. If any of you reading this blog know why I was nudged to change the topic, please let me know. I am curious beyond measure!
Over the past three years, many people have asked me why I chose self-publishing my books over traditional publishing. There are spiritual and not-so-spiritual reasons that went into my decision. However, it was a pretty easy decision for me to make — especially since my generous husband was willing to give me the money to fulfill my “publishing dream.”
WHY I SELF-PUBLISHED MY BOOKS
I. First things first – God gave me a message to write about – devotional prayer journaling. By the time I wrote my first book, I had been prayer journaling for 40+ years. All that means is that each year, I made a new notebook where I wrote down my prayer requests, thoughts, dreams, Bible study notes, and various other topics. One day a few months after retiring from my school librarian job, I had been asking God what He wanted me to do. He impressed upon me to walk into my closet. Yes, bizarre as it sounds, God impressed me to walk into my bedroom closet. I did. I looked up to the top shelf of my closet. There were all my journals and prayer requests from 40+ years ago all lined up. In a quiet whisper, God spoke. He said, “I have been preparing you to write prayer journals all these years. Now is the time to do it.”
II. God led me in that direction by finding my initial self-publishing company himself. As a high school librarian, I would receive calls and emails from publishing companies frequently. The spring before I retired, I received an email from CrossBooks, the self-publishing division of Lifeway, at the time. I filled out the form that I would like information about self-publishing. I started receiving a few phone calls and information about the company and I stored that in the back of my mind.
III. I also didn’t want to spend a lot of time messing with publishing companies and receiving rejection letters for years. I told myself I was 58 years old and if I am going to do something, I better do it now. Basically, I was getting old and I wanted to get something in print before I died. That was my thinking at the time.
IV. I wanted to have total creative control in the publishing process which I could do if I self-published.
I loved . . .
- Deciding what font and size I wanted to use;
- Picking out my own photos to put in the book [I learned a lot about stock photos, Photoshop, and pixels];
- Choosing the graphics for my own book;
- Working at my own pace which for me was FAST compared to others I have talked to. I recently took one of those questionnaires on Facebook and it said my best quality was that I am an over-achiever. So, you can only imagine the hard and concentrated effort I put in my books.
- Designing my own cover — with the help of a graphic artist.
I’m not here to tell you self-publishing books is for you. It may not always be true for me, but for my first 3 books, it has been the route God has chosen. [I’m working on my 3rd book now.]
I did run across some pros and cons with self-publishing. You may not think they are pros or cons, but for me they were.
PROS OF SELF-PUBLISHING
- God taught me patience;
- God taught me to be wise with money;
- God taught me how to follow his leadings step-by-step even if I didn’t understand them;
- God impressed upon me that he knows the big picture of my life, and it is always best to follow his leads – in this case, it was to self-publish!
CONS OF SELF-PUBLISHING
- Having to learn all the Microsoft features needed to type the books before pushing the final copies to Crossbooks, i.e. mark entry, insert index, captions, insert citations, headers, footers, margins, breaks, hyphenations, watermarks, indenting, spacing, wrapping text, and reviewing;
- Paying for a self-publishing package;
- Paying for book editing;
- Having to write my own introduction and preface;
- Being solely responsible for any omissions or errors in the book;
- Not selling as many books as I would like to since I do not have the support of a well-known publishing company;
- Marketing myself. [Honestly, I don’t have enough time to market well with other responsibilities I have right now.]
After both of my books were published, I received a letter from CrossBooks stating Lifeway was eliminating their self-publishing arm and I needed to find a new publishing company or use Westbow Press, the self-publishing division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan. At first, I wasn’t thrilled about having to change publishing companies, but now that I have gone through the transfer process with Westbow Press, I am thrilled with the results. God made provisions in this change where I have been able to fix every known error in the books, change the size of Book 2, and change Book 2’s cover which I wasn’t satisfied with the first time around.
God knows what he is doing all the time. When we step out in faith and are obedient to his promptings, we see God working in our lives and the lives of others. There are days I talk to God and say, “LORD, why have I spent so much time and money on these books and they aren’t getting into the hands of those that need them?” But, when I get into my pity-party mood, I have to continue to trust God because knows what he is doing. Someday when a traditional publisher shows their face, I will seriously consider the option, but I will never regret what I have learned with my first publishing feats by self-publishing. No, not ever!
If you have any comments or questions on this topic, please let me know. I would love to hear them. And, if you were the one I was writing to, let me know. Maybe God will lead me to write on Purah in the future, but today just wasn’t the day!