Guest Post: Why I Chose to Self-Publish after Being Published by New York

One of my favorite things is hearing about the publishing experiences of other writers. Today, author Carole Bellacera tells us why she chose to self-publish her novels after having had deals in the past with traditional publishing houses.

I admit it. I was a snob. Back when I finally sold my first novel to a major New York house, I looked down my nose at anyone who’d self-published their books. For thirteen years, I’d struggled to sell a novel, coming close a few times, but always falling short. But even then, after working with three different agents, and suffering years of rejection, I held fast to my belief that if I had to stoop to self-publishing, I wouldn’t be a “real author.”

And now here I am, almost 30 years later, a self-published author. How did that happen? Well, it’s a rather familiar story to many authors. After my fourth book came out by the New York publisher, my editor left for greener pastures, leaving me an unwanted orphan. No one else, apparently, saw in my work what my editor had, and all support dried up. Of course, my sales sucked swamp water, which, I’m sure, accounted for the lack of excitement on Fifth Avenue.

Burned out and discouraged, I took a few years off from the business side to renew my love affair with what was important to me – writing. I wrote two complete novels and then waded back into the quick sands of publishing – only to find that I was starting over from the very beginning. Agent hunting, editor hunting… rejection followed by rejection. Having a track record didn’t seem to make a difference.

That’s when I decided to take back control of my career. I was sick of being told “no, your work is not worthy.” I knew it was worthy. I was the same writer I’d been when I sold four novels which earned raving reviews, if not sales. So I got my rights back from my New York publisher and put my backlist out on Amazon’s Kindle program. But I didn’t stop there. I’m in the process now of reissuing all my backlist in print, too. And then I took the two unsold books I’d been shopping to New York and put them out through Amazon’s CreateSpace.

Here’s where I tell you that my decision to self-publish has resulted in a windfall of money pouring in every month… but I’m not a liar. (Although some would say fiction writers are really good at lying.) No, so far, the results haven’t been exceptional. I’ve found the most difficult thing about being self-published is the lack of respect from the media and reviewers. It’s almost impossible to get any publicity or reviews if you’re self-published. All of my previous books garnered reviews, even from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus, and that’s definitely not the case with my latest novel, Lily of the Springs. The stigma of being self-published is alive and well. And I can understand that. With so many self-published books out there, many of which haven’t been professionally edited, it’s impossible for readers to find the gems among the dollar-store trinkets.

But despite all that, I know I’ve made the right decision in turning to self-publishing. It may not be the perfect solution, but at least my books are available to anyone who wants them, rather than sitting in a warehouse somewhere and eventually being destroyed. And it’s nice to be in control of my own career.

Carole Bellacera‘s work has appeared in magazines such as Woman’s World, The Star, Endless Vacation and The Washington Post. Her latest novel, Lily of the Springs, is available in print and eBook format. Carole’s first novel, Border Crossings, a hardcover published by Forge Books in May of 1999, was a 2000 RITA Award nominee for Best Romantic Suspense and Best First Book, and a nominee for the 2000 Virginia Literary Award in Fiction. It was also a 2000 finalist in the Golden Quill award and in the Aspen Gold Award and won 1st Place in the Volusia County 2000 Laurel Wreath Award. Carole’s work has appeared in various anthologies such as Kay Allenbaugh’s Chocolate for a Woman’s Heart, Chocolate for a Couples’ Heart and Chicken Soup for Couples.




6 thoughts on “Guest Post: Why I Chose to Self-Publish after Being Published by New York

  1. Many New York writers and artists are taking control of their careers, copyrights and written creations by self-publishing. The greatest challenge is marketing your own work. For someone who is already established, it seems to be the best way to go on all fronts. Congrats on your decision!

    • Anne, you are so right when you say that the greatest challenge is marketing. But it’s a great challenge for my traditionally published writer-friends as well as my self-published writer-friends. However, although it’s challenging, I do love it. :) Thanks for stopping by!

    • Deciding whether or not to go the traditional publishing or self-publishing route is a decision that is unique to each writer. For me, self-publishing seemed right for BABY GRAND. I may feel differently when it’s time to publish my next novel. However, how great is it that we have so many choices?! More than ever before. Good luck with whatever path you choose!

  2. Dear Carole,

    Thank you for you honesty in sharing your experiences with both NYC houses and self-publishing. I think we’re all on the same sheet of music when it comes to marketing and promotion. Although my debut novel THE FINAL SALUTE was released by a tiny traditional press, I ended up doing all the marketing. I got lucky on some national exposure but the whole process is exhausting.

    You’ve given me much to think about when I complete my next novel. I still have that dream of finding a major publishing house, but I’m also thankful that there are so many options for writers now days.

    Wishing you joy and happiness as you continue to pursue your passion.


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