10:15 am EDT, September 7, 2012

Author S.R. Johannes discusses the stigma of self-publishing

S.R. Johannes is the author of Amazon-bestselling Untraceable (a teen wilderness thriller) and new tween paranormal, On The Bright Side. Uncontrollable, the sequel to Untraceable, is scheduled for release on September 24.

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S.R Johannes is also an indie author, meaning she does everything from the writing to the marketing, on her own. Recently, indie authors have been placed in the spotlight because of the major deals certain books have received but indie publishing is more about the authors who love what they write and want to share their work. S.R. Johannes answers some questions about what it means to be an indie author.

Why did you decide to self-publish rather than go the traditional route?

I had a New York agent for two years. During that time, we subbed manuscripts. I had two go to acquisitions, many go to editorial meetings, and I did a few non-contractual revisions. Only to end up not selling. It was the most frustrating time for me. My agent and I parted and I gave up writing for six months. I made a decision to put my books out so I could move onto something new. It ended up being a great move for me – personally and professionally.

How has the experience of self-publishing been for you?

Wonderful, hard, embarrassing, exhausting, rewarding, frustrating…does that sum it up for you?

I had a hard time coming to the decision because I was worried about the stigma. How my peers would see me. Once I got past that insecurity, it got much easier.

But using all my marketing experience and knowledge to do the best book I could do was so fun. This is totally my book. From beginning to end. That is a great feeling, especially now since it has been well received. When I put it out, I had no expectations. I just wanted it to be the best I knew how to do.

Do you feel like people from the traditional publishing world treat you and your work differently?

Yes and no. There’s always one in every crowd that will try and tear you down. I’ve learned a lot about myself during this process. I’ve had people write me off, I’ve had people step up and get my back.

I think at first, people wondered and second-guessed. But over time I think my book has stood on its own and done pretty well for an underdog.

What have been some of your experiences, both positive and negative, being self-published?

Gosh so many. On the positive side, I’ve met so many wonderful indie authors. I’ve learned a lot about my own prejudices. I’ve created something on my own and am proud of the work I’ve done. It has been a true sense of perseverance. I’ve learned a lot about the publishing process and industry. I would not change this experience for anything. It has been invaluable.

That said, it has also been one of the most frustrating experiences. It is definitely NOT the easy way out. It is a full-time job and sometimes I wish I had an agent or publisher on my side because I am a one-man show. I wear so many hats; sometimes I can’t sleep at night. Legal, accounting, inventory, publicity, social networker, writer, publisher, editor, marketer, cover designer, etc, etc. It’s exhausting.

Besides the hard work, the stigma is the most frustrating. I wish books could be judged on their own merit. Not by who did them or how much of an advance they make. I think there are some traditionally published books that are crap and some self-published books that are great. Unfortunately, when you are self-published you have to prove you are good because everyone assumes you are not good. When you are traditionally published, everyone assumes you are good.

I’ve gotten to the point where I just keep writing and let the writing speak for itself. I can’t prove anything to anyone. They will either see it or not.

How is self-publishing different from traditional publishing?

I do everything. The doors are automatically closed and I have to find ways to get in them, whether it is reviews, awards, or press.

What steps do you take before a book is ready to be published?

Oh gosh. This is a whole book. Before anyone self-publishes, they need to do a ton of research. I spent six months researching to see if I did self-publish, how would I do it? Because I wasn’t going to do it if I couldn’t do it right. I will say the most important steps are editing and cover design. If you don’t put money into those two things, chances are you will not be successful.

Self-publishing is HARD! It is not for everyone. If you love to be an entrepreneur and run your own business, then you will love it. If you only want to write, you will probably not enjoy 80% of what it takes to self-publish the right way.

I will say, I would not be where I am without bloggers. I owe any success I have to their support.

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