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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Guest Post: Author Keri Lake: My Decision to Self-Publish

I'd like to welcome author Keri Lake to my blog this week. I wanted to explore the topic of self-publishing and thought it would be a great idea to get the perspective of someone who has decided to take that journey. I have to say that Keri's post is a truly inspiring one and has given me a lot to think about. So without further ado:

A little over a year ago, I would have laughed at the idea of self-publishing. No way. No how. There really is a stigma associated with it: a guarantee of crappy, pointless writing that lacks everything a real book should have. I follow enough blogs to know what a good portion of the writing community thinks about it. On one side - those believing that they’ll revolutionize the publishing industry. On the other – the second half of writers hating the first for killing the quality of published books. It’s controversial and touchy and one side doesn’t seem to be capable of changing the other’s mind.

So where do I fall?

Well, I guess somewhere in the middle. You see, I didn’t get in to self-publishing to become the next Hocking. In fact, I really hadn’t planned to publish this book at all in the beginning. It started out as a story for my sister; a sort of outlet to the sadness I felt when she moved out of state for a job. But right around the same time I was writing this book, I was dealing with something else – a monster growing inside of me, getting bigger and bigger with each passing day – I was hating my job.

For those who may not have this experience, being the daughter of a business owner is absolute hell. Why? You’re never satisfied with the status quo. And I come from generations of entrepreneurs. My grandfather owned a business (was a Chemist too), and so does my brother. All three of them built their businesses from the ground up. It was amazing to watch my father go from selling products out of our garage, to owning a warehouse and showroom; to see my brother, tucked away in a corner of his 500 sq. ft. apartment with his computer, move to an entire suite in a commercial building. No bosses. No corporate BS or politics. And I wanted this too. The need coursed through my veins, wild and unruly. If they could do it, so could I.

So I decided to start my own business. I bought my LLC, DBA and domain. I researched vendors and had a couple lined up to drop-ship my products. This was it. I was going to leave the world of working drone and become my own boss. Take a risk. Leap without hesitation.

…problem was, my heart wasn’t in it.

I sat down with my brother. It was one of those long, drawn out conversations where the coffee percolates into the late hours and before you know it, the sun’s going to be coming up soon…and you’re still talking. He asked, “Why not sell your book?”

“What?! My book?? Yeah, right. Self-publishing? No thanks.” <
But somewhere between little sleep, too much coffee, my brother’s words playing over and over in my head, I woke up the next morning and decided to do it. He was right. Could I be any more passionate about something in my life? I loved writing, and I had been telling stories since I could first talk.

I finished the book, which was actually the third novel I’d ever written, and sat down with my brother again to come up with a marketing game plan. The cover had to be catchy, but I’m a simple girl. I’m easily drawn to covers with clean, uncluttered images. The website had to be an extension of me and what I love to write – very dark and a bit mysterious. For the book trailer, I wanted the same dark theme, but I wanted it to play like a movie in the viewer’s head, because that’s the way this book has played out in mine. My brother designed all of these.

Finally, I decided that I wanted the interior, the story itself, to be as good as possible. I’m not an editor and I’m a horrible grammarian. When I write, the words simply tumble from my head to paper without much thought. I don’t outline or do anything truly organized. I sit and write – that’s all. It’s a stress-reliever for me. So after my own obsessive sweeps through the MS (which probably didn’t amount to much since it’s darn near impossible to find EVERY flaw in a story you’ve read over and over), I hired an editor.

The truth is, the book probably could have been better if I’d had a team of professionals who’ve been in the business for years working with me, telling me what to cut and what to keep based on innate knowledge of the market. I would probably reach more people. I’d have someone to consult and bounce ideas off of. I could proudly boast an official badge of publication.

I’m still learning, not just the business, but how to become a better writer. Perhaps this book will be the way I imagine Johnny Depp feels, watching episodes of 21 Jump Street. If so, I’m glad. It would mean my writing improved with time.

Readers will find flaws. They will have opinions about what I should have done differently in the story. Some will hate it, others may love it. But writing was only part of the reason I decided to self-publish. Someday I may submit my work to a traditional publisher. I’m certainly not against them. But for now, I can say I did something I set out to do. I built something from the ground up. And for me, that alone has been worth the risk.

You can find Keri Lake at:








  1. Great post, Keri!!

    Self-pubbing is getting a lot of attention, can't wait to see how it'll pan out.

    Oh Angie, great minds, gothsis:)

  2. A well thought out post and a well presented argument. Thanks for bringing it forward Angie and Keri.

  3. Great commentary Keri! I think in this changing world of publishing keeping your options open is the only way to go. Kait Nolan did a post awhile ago comparing today's self-publishing authors with the pulp fiction - not the movie :) - authors from years ago. "On the job training." Good luck with your release!

  4. I know, Anne! So funny we both scheduled this topic!

    Self-pubbing is getting a lot of attention. I'm very curious to see what's coming in the new year.

  5. Thank you for the comments and huge thank you to Angela Addams for allowing me to hog her blog for a day :)

  6. Great post. Great summary Angie on the way writers have mixed opinions on self-pubbing...

    I'm glad you decided to go for it Keri, you were very honest with yourself and it seems like it was the right time for you. I love the title and cover art BTW. I really hope the book does well.

    I've been watching the self-pub debate since I started writing in Feb. so I've come in with no preconceptions about it vs traditional publishing.

    I think it's going to end up being tech. and reader driven. It's simply a case of adapt or die.

  7. The debate about self-publishing recalls the indie music scene of a few decades ago. Writers hope for the same fallout.

    Some believe self-publishing will liberate us from main-stream cotton candy. Some use it as a shortcut to publishing stories that could really use more work.

    One thing is for certain: we authors live in interesting times. Thank you for sharing another opinion on a topic I'm still debating.

  8. Keri gives us a very interesting viewpoint on self-publishing. The pros and cons are still there but I can see it growing in credibility. And for the authors, the more options the better. Thanks, Angie.

  9. I'm about the same (well, minus the actually having published part). I wouldn't have dreamed of self-publishing a year ago, but now? The game is definitely changing!

    Your book looks absolutely lovely, and is nothing like the steretypical self-published-looking books from years past.