An Apology to Self-Published Writers

Remember one of my first articles I ever did?  It was exactly one year ago to this day and it was called Self-Publishing: A Reviewer’s Perspective.  While I didn’t exactly say self-publishing was a terrible thing that was ruining literature, my feelings about it were generally negative.

So, first off, let me say I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for judging self-published writers before I really knew what self-publishing involved.  I’m sorry for judging self-published writers based on my very limited experience reading self-published books and a few big media incidents.  I’m sorry that I jumped to conclusions and pretty much lumped all self-published authors together.

You’ll probably be wondering how I came to my new perspective on self-publishing.  Let me say it wasn’t easy and it’s certainly not easy to admit on your public blog that you screwed up.  But it’s the right thing to do.  So here’s sort of how I changed my mind:


1.  I read some amazing self-published books.

Before I wrote my piece I had very few good experiences with self-publishing in general.  From reading books with tons of mistakes to watching self-published authors explode at reviewers who gave them bad reviews, you could say I had only seen the ugly side of self-publishing.  That’s why I didn’t exactly support, but didn’t exactly dismiss the possibility of self-publishing having a good side.  I just didn’t have the experience necessary to see the good side.

In the past year I’ve started reading a lot more self-published books and I found some great ones.  Prophecy of the Most Beautiful by Diantha Jones, There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack and Starlet’s Web by Carla J. Hanna, just to name a few.  Part of what helped me come to this stage of acceptance was reading awesome, well proofread and well-written books like these.  The other part is that I realized no publisher would have even considered publishing these.  Some of them are too unique and have unconventional stories, others are books that don’t conveniently fit into one category and thus could never be marketed easily.

And you know what?  It would have been a terrible shame not to read any of these simply because I lumped all self-published authors together.


2.  I actually spoke to a wide variety of self-published authors.

In a psychology class I took I learned that one of the most effective ways to end prejudice towards certain groups is to expose the prejudiced person to that group more frequently.  It’s hard to hate something if you put a face to it.  That’s why it was so easy for me to completely dismiss self-publishing as an absolute last resort: I didn’t really know that many self-published authors.

But then I started interviewing self-published authors and saw the reasons why they self-published.  Some of them submitted their books to every publisher in the entire country and others just wanted to have control over the entire process.  As a blogger, I can completely understand that.  Here on The Mad Reviewer, while I generally stick to my book mandate I do occasionally stray from it if I feel like it.  I might do a post about my vacation or on my birthday every year I’ll rant about something I feel passionate about but isn’t book-related.  I love being in control; I completely understand how authors might want to control what their book cover looks like because some traditionally published authors get horrible book covers.  It’s just little things like that that it’s nice to have control over.

Talking to self-published authors and hearing that some of them had been trying to get published for 10 years before they decided to self-publish really changed my viewpoint.  I mean, most of these authors were great writers who should have been published in the mainstream.  I’d read their books and loved them, but publishers either didn’t see the value in them or didn’t see a market for them (not that the two are mutually exclusive).


3.  I learned more about the self-publishing community.

I’ve had some really bad experiences with self-published writers, but 99% of my experiences have been good.  Obviously not all self-published writers are crazy people that will attack you online if you give them a bad review.

What I didn’t realize for a while is that the self-publishing community really, really hates when one of their own presents a bad image to the media by acting out.  One entitled writer attacking a reviewer reflects badly on the whole self-publishing community.  I applied that to my own life: what if one person in Saskatchewan was an alcoholic and suddenly everyone in Saskatchewan was perceived as being alcoholics?  That’s not even a very good comparison because there are far more self-published authors than there are people in Saskatchewan.

As a reading public, we need to stop judging self-published authors by the loose cannons.  One person going crazy shouldn’t ruin it for a generally well-behaved and supportive community.  That took a long time for me to realize, but I’m definitely glad I did.  It’s absolutely not right to judge a whole group by a few people.


In general, I’d say that the reading public is starting (very subtly) to shift toward something like acceptance toward self-publishing.  Will it ever be on the same level as traditional publishing?  That’s hard to say.  There will always be the lemons in the community that ruin it for everyone else, but I think self-publishing is getting better.  By ‘better’, I mean that there are way more resources out there for self-published writers and far more ways for them to get the word out.

We’ll know self-published books are mostly accepted when self-published authors are able to submit their books into big name awards like the Nebula, Newberry or Booker Prize.  Will the mainstream accept self-publishing?  In time, perhaps.  For now, although I’m a relatively small-scale reviewer, everyone out there in the self-publishing community should know that you have one convert.  Maybe in the future there will be more.


    • Mary Moriarty

      Thank you for that wonderful blog post. As a self published author I have seen my fair share of negative. I live in Camden Maine where I have two pulitzer prize authors, not to mention a few others. I am not only a self published author but romance author to boot… You should see some of the looks I get. I had been going around in circles trying to find a publisher since 2000. Finally got my first book published in 2012. It wasn’t exactly the best way but it worked to get my name out there a bit and right after I knew I would be self publishing because I would have control.
      It is a constantly evolving situation and I am constantly looking for improvements. Also as a self published author work really, really hard at not only writing, self editing, working with my editors, cover artist, formatters and then publicity (which I do). It’s a lot of work but it is well worth it!
      Yes, I have seen some really bad written, self published books and I have seen some wonderful ones. I think what we are seeing here is a revolution of publishing. Everyone like the ones loyal to England are afraid of change. there is growing pains with newness but in the long run it will be great for all of us… and it will bring wonderful authors to light who we normally would never see.
      Thank you!

  1. Viv

    There’s many reasons why people choose to self-publish, and there’s many reasons why some folks hate what they produce. But might those also be the same reasons why they would have hated it even had it been produced by a big name publisher. I’ve read some traditionally published twaddle.
    It’s all early days, but it’s good to see people starting to put the prejudices behind them.
    Thank you.

    • Carrie Slager

      Yes, I definitely realize that now. I’m just shocked at the number of books that were self-published and do reasonably well that weren’t “commercial enough” for traditional publishing houses. The public’s perception of self-publishing is most definitely warped, just like mine was.

  2. Zen A.

    This was a great post. 🙂 Like some of the writers you mentioned, I have tried to get “traditionally” published, but always received the same reply of “This is not what we’re looking for.” I received between 70 – 80 rejections before it became apparent to me that my story is too weird for anybody to pick it up. Self-publishing has been rewarding, and I love that I’m in control of everything. Most traditionally published writers don’t even get a say in their covers!

    • Carrie Slager

      I can see where Puppet Parade wouldn’t be all that commercially appealing for publishers, but it’s still better written than most of the traditionally published books out there. Even if they did pick it up, they probably would have slapped on some idiotic, childish illustration of a puppet and ruined your chance of selling anything. Your case is definitely one where self-publishing is a great thing and you did it right by having it edited so well.

  3. Anthea Sharp

    What a great, honest look at how your opinions changed. That takes guts. 🙂
    As far as contests go, the super-biggies aren’t open yet to self-publishers, but this year saw a sea change in the RWA Chapter contests, some of which carry a fair bit of cachet. Since the national organization is now admitting self-published authors (who meet a minimum income requirement for sales on a single title) into their Published Author Network, the chapter contests have relaxed their rules. Last year, I could not enter my YA Urban Fantasy books into contests. This year, I’m a finalist in the PRISM contest and the Write Touch Reader’s Award, along with a few other indies. This is the first year that indies could enter most of the contests, and already there’s a presence of self-published authors among the finalists and winners.
    Which is all a long way of saying, I agree that the perception is shifting – and that the quality is going up for self-published books.
    Thanks for helping that change along! 🙂


    • Carrie Slager


      That’s awesome that indies are finally being given a chance in contests! The really big literary ones are still closed to you guys, but maybe in the future, with this big perception change going on, you’ll be able to enter. Self-publishing has definitely become more professionalized and there’s a great community out there for authors, unlike even 5, 10 years ago. It’s definitely a big shift.

  4. Book Blather

    I’ve read some great self published stuff as well this year that have opened my eyes. And I’ve sure the emergence of a New Adult book market is almost entirely down to these authors – bless them! However, they’re success is challenging the traditional publishing system economically and I’m not entirely happy with that. Publishing Houses set the standard for a well edited book and if we cut them out of the equation what’s to maintain those standards?

    I like being able to glance at a publisher’s name on the spine of a book and know that this is a quality product, you can’t do that with self published titles, instead I spend hours on Goodreads trolling through reviews to find a few self published gems among the disappointments.

    • Carrie Slager

      I don’t think self-publishing is lowering the standard in general. I mean, you have to judge individual authors on their proofreading and seeing a publisher’s name on the spine certainly doesn’t guarantee there’s great editing. For example, one traditionally published book I read (published by Scholastic) had so many errors it was ridiculous. Compare that to Diantha Jones’ self-published Prophecy of the Most Beautiful, which had no errors.

      As for knowing books are good quality, a publisher’s name does still not guarantee that it’s a well-written book. I’ve almost hurled many a traditionally published book at the wall for being so terrible! I think the best thing for you to do to find self-published gems is to find a good review site that reviews only indie or self-published books. Something like BigAl’s Books and Pals.

      • Book Blather

        I’m not sure about finding a site that reviews only those sorts of books, doesn’t that suggest you are holding them to a different standard than books published through traditional methods?

        I agree that some self published books are miles better than some published books that come from traditional publishers. Self-publishing has its benefits for readers, definitely.

        But… there are some terrible self-published books out there, I work in a bookshop and we see examples from local authors all the time, and that’s not healthy for the book industry because it discourages readers.

        • Carrie Slager

          True, there are some downsides, just the same as traditional publishing. But no, I don’t think a site that only reviews self-published books is holding them to a lower standard. They do, however focus on the common pitfalls of self-published books and will often warn readers about proofreading and such things. It’s not necessarily a lower standard if you find a good site, but it is a different one as you said.

  5. Matthew Wright

    Great post. My own output is entirely trad – my books are principally published by Random House and Penguin, at the moment. When I started, years ago,, ‘self publishing’ was very much equivalent to ‘vanity’ – someone would assign themselves the title’ writer’ and wander into a printer with a wheelbarrow full of money, with which to print their magnum opus. This, invariably, was something they’d written in ignorance of the techniques needed to write – a case of being too uninformed to know that they didn’t actually know what they were doing. Gave self-pub pretty much a proverbial bum rap.

    These days that’s changed – sure, the vanity stuff is still out there, but there are also very talented and capable authors able to self-publish stuff that might not make it otherwise. Not because it is poor, but because the changing nature of the market has caused even the bigger houses to be very circumspect about what they are prepared to take risks on. Known names sell, unknown ones don’t, no matter how talented the unknown.

    Self-pub, of course, doesn’t reduce the onus to have due critical faculty of one’s own writing, of getting external proofing (including proof-editing as well as line-editing) and of keeping the quality high. And while the web provides everyone with the same promotional tools, I am sure that quality will be found – and more so than the dross.

    It’s a new world out there.

    • Carrie Slager

      Oh no, I’d say the onus on writers to produce a quality product is much bigger as a self-published writer! You have to find an editor you can trust, but also manage the business side of things by getting reviews, advertising and doing social media campaigns. It’s important for self-publishers to keep the quality high because they’re judged by their comrades who do not care about editing or creating the best product.

      Thank you for commenting! 🙂

  6. Andy Szpuk

    Well said Carrie, and there’s no denying that quality varies from book to book whether they’re self-published or not. Like say, if we were to rewind 20 years before self-publsihing really took off, walk into a bookshop and buy a book, published by a a mainstream outfit, we could still decide it didn’t hit the spot, and was flawed in some way.
    One of the big differences is that mainstream publishers have the budget to package a book to a higher standard – some hardbacks are exquisitely packaged.

    • Carrie Slager

      That’s very true, but I think self-publishing is getting more and more professionalized. Soon we may very well see those exquisitely packaged hard cover books from self-published authors. And as you say, of course quality depends on how much time and effort an author puts into all aspects of their book.

      • Joan L. Cannon

        No one has mentioned the cost to the author. I couldn’t afford professional proofing; my (POD) publisher mentioned in the contract they proofread. Ha! Result: dozens of errors. In 2 cases, I sent (per instructions) corrected galleys twice, and in both cases the final product contained not only corrections I’d missed, but no corrections I’d made, plus dozens of new errors. If I could afford to have the required proofing done by an expert, I would have. Not sure it would have helped much. I can proof for someone else, but am hopeless on my own material. I’m reminded of all the advice to attend workshops and network, etc. Good advice
        –if you can afford it.

  7. Jemima Pett

    That’s a really nice post, thank you. I self-published because I’d submitted to all the agents that accepted children’s and fantasy books and got the ‘not commercial enough’ response from those few who deigned to respond. I carried on searching for how to get published and picked up on the idea of self-pub at a Writers and Artists Workshop.
    Now I can’t conceive that I would want a traditional publisher for them. Yes, it might make it easier for more people to see them, but I’m not doing it to be a best-seller – they aren’t that sort of book. People seem to enjoy them, though.
    I think it helps that I have business experiencel but I still made plenty of mistakes in promoting them – probably still do. I hope it’s getting better though. And I thank my editor and my cover illustrator – you need those independent viewpoints!

    • Carrie Slager

      Your story is definitely more and more common, I find. “Not commercial enough” is sort of a cop-out and I really hate it when I read amazing self-published books that were turned down by publishers for that reason. Not every book has to be a bestseller and self-publishing is sort of fulfilling that more niche need. For example, one of the books I mentioned, There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack, is a great fantasy/sci-fi crossover. But because it doesn’t fit into one specific genre it will never be published in the mainstream

      Thanks for commenting!

  8. Phillip McCollum

    Great post. I think self-publishing has been evolving. In the ‘old days’, probably when you read a lot of the junk, it was composed of writers who had weren’t quite up to the task and had been rejected by publishers for that reason. This was their way to finally get there work out there.

    As the option to self-publish became more popular, authors who had worked hard and had some talent began to see it as an opportunity to bypass the middleman.

    Just a theory of course!

    • Carrie Slager

      Your theory is probably correct in a lot of ways. The junk is still out there, but it’s starting to get weeded out, as it should be. It’s much easier now to find self-published books that surpass the quality of even traditionally published books. I don’t even find myself in amazement when I read a good self-published book anymore; I consider them to be like every other book.

      Thank you for commenting!

  9. Belle Whittington

    What an honest, heartfelt post! As an Indie Author, AKA Self-Publishing, I’m grateful that you’ve had enough positive experiences to change your idea of us and our writing. 🙂 It’s true that self-publishing gives us the advantage of more control over our creative “babies.” This is why I choose to self-publish…well, and the fact that when I wrote CICADA, most agents and publishers were looking for vampire books. CICADA is about aliens, and that’s my favorite character to write. So, I wrote the book I wanted to read, and I have no regrets. And, hey! Both CICADA and FIREFLY (the sequel) have been well-received by readers. 🙂

    So, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your article! It’s great to know that there are book reviewers who are “coming over to the dark side”! (((hugs))) from Texas!
    ~Belle Whittington
    Author of CICADA and FIREFLY

    • Carrie Slager

      I used to write and I can definitely understand wanting more control over your own work. It’s hard to let go of your creative babies. And it’s great that your books have been well-received! Nothing annoys me more than good books not getting published because of a marketing fad that produces ridiculously bad books.

      Thanks for commenting!

  10. Carla J. Hanna

    Thank you, Carrie. You have recognized that the business of publishing, the pursuit of ‘art,’ and the ‘purpose’ of story are in flux because of self-publishing.

    I’m one of those writers who got attention immediately from my story pitch but if I signed the publishing deal, the editor would have gutted each novel’s themes and made them into quick, hot reads. Could you imagine Starlet’s Run without Manuel questioning Lia’s belief in God?

    I wrote a new adult coming of age series packaged it as romance but purposed it as a social commentary. I wanted to talk to teens about God and sex, social media, beauty, conformity, grief and acceptance. I could not have done that as a traditionally published author confined to genre requirements and profitability goals. Could a traditionally published story deconstruct the beloved young adult love-triangle? Can it ask if God is mean? Can it reflect the mixed-races and cultures in the real world of Hollywood? No, the risk of offending a reader is too scary. Would an editor dare to take on such a risk when my ‘story’ is PERFECT for riding the teen erotica trend? “All you have to do, Carla, is add some steamy scenes and you have a best seller!” But I wrote Job as a teen in Hollywood. Steamy scenes make no sense.

    No. What I want to do is write a modern morality tale which questions the ‘true timelessness’ of a tired story arc. It takes me 4 novels to do it, but I have succeeded. So YAY! for self-publishing.

    But I acknowledge that we are also in a ‘reader beware’ era.

    Because of the varied quality of novels on Amazon, I have learned to skim those ‘Look Insides’ prior to any book purchase. My perception of quality, like yours, has changed. Just because Random House is promoting a book does not mean it is a good book. For example, the 50 Shades series was the best selling series last year. I read the ‘Look Inside’ and passed, seeing a typical genre structure, predictable characters, and cliched writing. I also saw why it was so heavily promoted and distributed. It was a mainstream erotica goldmine, preying on the curiosity of readers of “Mommy porn.” Quality or gratuitous sex? It doesn’t matter to the business side of publishing.

    • Carrie Slager

      Honestly, I can’t imagine any of the themes from your Starlet series being published in just one book, let alone in the same book! I’m finally making some progress in Starlet’s Run and I can’t wait to watch you deconstruct the hated love triangle. You know it’s one of my pet peeves.

      ‘Look Insides’ are valuable tools, but sometimes they can be misleading. I’ve read absolutely amazing chapter one excerpts only to have the whole book stink. They’re a tool, just like a good review from a trusted reviewer is. Self-publishing is a great tool to get a lot of untold stories out there, ones like yours that never would have been published otherwise. And that would have been a real shame.

  11. theeddadiaries

    Thank you for your excellent article. I once attended a talk where the speaker said that some publishers produced a non-fiction book in a couple of weeks. I was rather appalled, having already spent several years researching material for my own book. Of course, no publisher wanted to touch my book as it was too specialised and so eventually I published it myself. Over the last few years they have trickled away, being bought, of course, by those who have an interest in this particular subject. All the same, when I explain to people that I ‘self-published’ my book, I feel an underlying sense of shame as though it wasn’t quite good enough for an established publisher. At the same time I also feel the concept of ‘vanity publishing’ (a horrible description) is becoming a thing of the past.

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  14. adstarrling

    Just found your article via at Radiant Shadows ‘Keeping up with the Blogosphere’ Sunday feature 🙂

    Thank you for such an honest post.

    Like you said, most self-published authors are a well-behaved, genuinely nice bunch of folks who support each other. There will ALWAYS be a few bad apples that give the rest a poor reputation. Again, there are a lot of self-published books that have poor covers, poor editing, and poor formatting. But there is a rising number that have received the attention of beta-readers, editors, book cover designers, and formatters. These books are competing on the same playing field as traditional published books, and, these days, often outdoing the latter. The traditional publishing industry has been going through a difficult period for the last few years; this shows in the number of ‘good’ books that they are rejecting. A couple of well-known British authors recently said that if they were to come out now and try to get published, they would never get a traditional book deal. That statement kind of speaks for itself.

    The traditional publishing industry no longer seems to want to ‘nurture’/’guide’ new authors and accompany them on a long and hopefully successful career; instead, they want writers who will hit the ‘bestseller’ list with their very first novel and sell more than 20 000 copies in a flash (I may be exaggerating with the numbers but I don’t think I’m that far off!). They want authors to write in a certain genre, for a specific market, because that’s what’s ‘selling’ this month, e.g. shiny vampires; never mind that by the time the book is actually published (oh, about 12-18 months after the deal is signed), the new flavour of the month will be glowing werewolves. Or ninja unicorns.

    I’m one of those authors who spent several years trying the traditional route. Waiting 6-9 months for feedback that said ‘You’re a good writer BUT…’ got a bit exhausting after a while 🙂

    Would I say no to a traditional book deal if one ever appeared before my eyes? Shockingly enough, I might (I never thought I would say that!). I have learned that there are many, many things wrong with the ‘traditional’ contract. Basically, it will quite royally screw the author and heap the vast majority of the benefits on the publisher. So, if someone ever talks book deal with me, rest assured that the thing will be poured over with a fine tooth comb by an intellectual property lawyer.

    Self-publishing was at the bottom of my plan when I started writing in 2006. The sea of change sweeping through the publishing industry, the advent of ebooks and Kindle Direct Publishing, the increasing availability of editors/book cover designers/ proofreaders/formatters that self-published authors can outsource to, and the rising standards of self-publishing novels themselves convinced me otherwise in 2010.

    And I am thrilled to see book bloggers once more embracing self-published authors after having been bitten by a few of the nasty apples 🙂

    • Carrie Slager

      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment! It really shows just how much thought self-published authors actually put into self-publishing. It’s not done on a whim and for most people, it’s not an easy choice. I’m glad I’ve embraced self-publishing, though. There are a few bad apples, but honestly my experience has been positive for the most part. I just needed to really take a good look at my preconceived notions.

  15. Patricia Lynne (@plynne_writes)

    Great post. I’ve found some great books thanks to self publishing as well. I’m also one myself and chose to self publishing for the control aspect. It’s tough being in charge all the time, but I’m glad I made the decision. One day, I may submit a story to some small press. We’ll see.

    • Carrie Slager

      That’s like a lot of authors, I’ve found. Self-publishing is (at least in part) about control. Traditional authors have very little control over things like their book covers. Good cover art can make or break a book and yet authors have to suffer through irrelevant and/or hideous cover art. At least if you’re a self-published author you can have a say in not only who you hire, but what they produce. The cover art thing is just an example, but I know a lot of self-published writers who have said that maintaining control over their work is one of the benefits.

  16. Jeanette M. Bennett

    It takes a big woman to admit when she’s made a mistake. Thank you for your supporting Indies who work hard to produce a good product.

    There are authors who see self-publishing as a quick way to get published but it isn’t easier if you do it right. Never buy an Indie book without reading a bit to see if you like the style and that it isn’t junk. You can say that for traditionally published books, too. (I have a pdf of my first 14 chapters of my book “Walking A Fine Timeline” people can download on my website.) Always let your readers “look inside.” Best they find out they don’t like your book before the plunk down their money. If the reader doesn’t like your writing, they will at least like your honesty.

    I never submitted my book to a publisher. I had heard so many horror stories about how publishers rip off authors. Sure they are allowed a cut of the profits, but when they trick a writer into taking a nickel a book because she didn’t know a phone call was considered a legal verbal contract in New York–well, that’s just evil. I’m a Westerner and we only work with straight shooters.

    I’m not even sure if they would accept my book since sci-fi has become so full of graphic violence. As one person said “If you don’t destroy at least one city, the publishers won’t look at it.” Publishers seem to have a very low opinion of readers. Shouldn’t the reader be allowed to decide what they want to read? My book has brought a lot of enjoyment to a lot of people so I am not sorry for going Indie.

    • Carrie Slager

      Thank you; I try to swallow my pride once in a while and admit when I’ve been wrong.

      As for the excerpts I figure all books are alike in that you should read an excerpt before buying. Whether they’re self-published or traditionally published doesn’t really matter in that regard. Then again, some books have awesome previews but the rest of the novel sucks so buyer beware. That’s where reviews can come in handy.

      There are some good publishers and there are some bad publishers to be sure. It’s just like everywhere else: there are good people and not-so-good people out there. There are a lot of horror stories out there (and deservedly so!) but there are also some real success stories too. It really depends on who you’re dealing with.

      The problem with marketing is this: do people only buy [x] type of novel because it’s the only thing available? Or do people only buy [x] type of novel therefore publishers make it the only thing available? It’s hard to say really and publishers aren’t big on taking risks these days. They want something pretty much guaranteed to succeed, another Twilight if you will.

      That’s where I find self-publishing is so good. I’ve read so many amazing self-published books that never would have seen the light of day if they were traditionally published. Sure, there are plenty of lemons out there, but the good outweighs the bad in general.

  17. virginia636

    Thank you for writing this public apology. Admitting publically that you drew the wrong conclusion about self published authors says a lot about you and shows many of us there is still hope. Heck, even RWA changed their view this past year, allowing us to become PAN members for the first time in history.
    Unlike so many of my self-published friends I actually had offers on the table from both publishing houses and agents when I made the decision to self publish my new series. I will admit it was a gutsy (and scary) move but it was well worth it. The support from readers has made it worth while.
    It is important for those of us that are successful in the self published world to work with others who are traveling down the long and lonely road of publication regardless of their final decision. It’s not a simple journey no matter which way one travels. Make no mistake about it; hiring the right editor, right cover artist, becoming a publicist in addition to writing is a full time job.
    Again, you have my sincerest admiration for your courage to post this.
    Always, Virginia
    writing as V.S. Nelson

  18. Robert Medak

    It takes a good person to admit there position has changed via an apology, Carrie. As a small reviewer also, I can relate. Reading mostly self-published works, There are definitely some lemons. Having edited manuscripts, I feel a responsibility to alert the author to any faux pas like one where somethings were off in the town I grew up in.

  19. Claribel Ortega

    I choose to self publish without submitting my book anywhere first because I wanted to build a platform on my own and have complete control over my project as well as give myself more leverage if I DID decide to query publishers and agents. This was well written and brave of you to do. Thanks for writing this!

  20. Bart Stewart

    The link to this blog was posted on Twitter by @MasqCrew, and I am so glad it was. If only your open-minded attitude could become the norm. One thing that would help would be the establishment of a kind of “clearinghouse” for indie writers. An Underwriters Laboratory for self-published authors, for a small fee it would check for proper editing and set minimum standards for quality. They would issue a small, unobtrusive symbol for placement on the cover and the promotional materials. I truly believe something along those lines is the answer. It would make all the difference in eliminating the tsunami of what I call eCrap, and giving serious indie writers a breathing chance.
    Thank you,
    Bart Stewart
    Author of Painter of the Heavens ( )

  21. blancamiosi

    I self-published since 2011, and have noticed that the community of authors who do, have improved a lot, now put more care in the content, covers, and Amazon shows the same errors if detects.
    There are many good self-published authors, and not all of them are novice, many also published through publishing houses, are “hybrids”, as is my case. I love that you changed the perception you had of us. ¡Thank you!

    • Carrie Slager

      Actually, the change in perspective has benefited me far more than it’s benefiting authors. I’ve discovered so many amazing self-published books because of my new open-mindedness that it’s crazy. Some of these books are now on my all-time favourite book list and I can’t imagine that I never would have read them.

  22. Bel Vidal

    Thank you for a great article and for your recognition. My self-published novel took several years to write, underwent four major revisions, was professionally edited and was endorsed by experts on the subject matter before it was published. It doesn’t claim to be a literary masterpiece, but I know with confidence that it is well written, well edited, it has a firm structure and it tells a good story, dealing with important matters. It has heart, soul, blood and bones, and will hopefully enjoy a long, well lived life now that it’s ‘out there’.

  23. Lauri Rottmayer (@LauriRottmayer)

    This is great! As a self-published author, I have experienced some of that negativity towards the way I chose to bring my book to life. However, I really, really wanted speed to market and complete creative control over my cover so it was worth it. Having read many books with many errors it them, I was so very careful when I edited my book and I’m pleased with the way it turned out. I’m currently writing my first work of fiction and I would really like to have a publisher for that one but I’m happy to have the self publishing experience under my belt. 🙂

  24. Marjorie DeLuca

    This was such a refreshing and honest article and thanks for writing it. I too submitted my work for years until it was eventually picked up by an agent. I have a foot in both camps, but the traditional publishing process takes so long, I decided to do some self-publishing as well. Imagine my delight when my historical novel reached the Top 20 Literary fiction Bestsellers on Amazon UK and stayed there for two weeks alongside some traditional blockbusters. Now I’d think twice before signing away my rights to a book. I may face that decision soon! Not sure what I’ll do.

  25. K.B. Owen

    Thanks so much for writing this! Posts like yours helps take away some of the sting from being snubbed as a self-pubbed author. I write cozy historical mysteries, and had an agent for my first book who was enthusiastic about getting a trad publisher for it. Alas, while every editor response was complimentary of my book, they didn’t consider it a big-selling genre, and therefore not worth taking on. At parties, I’ve had folks literally turn their backs to me in a conversation – starting one with someone else – when they learn that I’m self-published. I can’t be an author member of Mystery Writers of America. My work doesn’t qualify for any awards; mystery conventions are all about the trad pubbed authors (whose work I love), but shut out the indies.

    We have a long way to go, but your post gives me hope!


    • Author Massimo Marino

      Aren’t conventions and awards supported, co-financed, and built around publishing houses? I went through your same experience. Today, publishers have little added value to a writer’s career (excluding the top percentile.)

  26. Jane Browning

    I’m self-published because I want to retain control and not be forced to insert romping sex scenes into an adventure story with a non-graphic style. I want my book to be as I intended it to be. I have not tried to get traditionally published as yet, although I do believe from my reviews that I have a story line that would be popular. I have tried to support other self-published authors as there are some superb writers out there, but there are also some terrible books where the authors have no clue about spelling, grammar, formatting or storyline etc. I would stress to anyone thinking of writing a book, that if you are going to invest your time and money into it, like any ‘job’ you need to research it and learn your trade. Writing means that words are your trade, so study, and if you have great ideas but aren’t so good at grammar etc, invest in a great editor. It will be worth it.

  27. eranamage

    Thank you for changing your mind about Self Pubbed Authors. We aren’t all bad! As with any media there are shoddy products and absolute gems, and everything in between. This goes for trad pubbed books as well. I have chosen that route as it gives me a lot of control. It is sad there are individuals who bring the whole community under the banner of badly behaved but mostly I’ve found other authors to be friendly, helpful and supportive. Hopefully readers find books they like among SPAs as well as tradpubbed and one day there will be no distinction. Thanks again for taking the time to post this.

  28. Lilian Gafni (@LilianGafni)

    Thank you Carrie for a great post. The problem with publishers is they see books in categories and genres. That is why when a new book comes along that doesn’t fit into the mold (commercial success, set genres, etc.) it is rejected. It’s really too bad, because if we all read the same books, all the time, we would all think the same way with no new ideas to stimulate our minds.

  29. Taylor


    I saw this post on Facebook and I’m thrilled I did. It takes tremendous courage to admit one’s misconception, and even greater courage to publicly apologize.
    My novel fell into the unmentioned category…Taboo. I know it must be hard to have rejection after rejection from standard publishing, but imagine not even being allowed to submit because of subject matter; forcing you to do the unthinkable…self publish.

    My novel has won 2 prestigious awards (2013 INDIE READERS DISCOVERY AWARD and 2013 READERS FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS GOLD MEDAL). I could snub my nose at traditional publishing…”Ha! See, you were wrong!” But, I prefer to embrace a community of talented, professional, and diligent writers that made the self pub journey before me; the wonderful writers, editors, artists, and bloggers that share every inkling of information they have, to make the journey easier for the rest of us.

    Self published is more than just the writing, it’s an eclectic family of like-minded artists just asking…no demanding, a chance. Your public show of integrity, ups those chances. Thank you!

    Apology accepted…

    Taylor Fulks~

  30. Author Massimo Marino

    Sorry you started off with bad experiences in self-publishing and their authors. I agree with many here: publishers reject books not *just* because they’re badly written (what people assume it to be the case for 100% of the rejection, the famous slush pile) but because they don’t want to take the risk. I got tired of the (few compared to 600 rejections Jack London accumulated before he found a publisher) comments “We loved the story, we love the lyric of the prose, but we don’t know how we would market your novel.” Thank you, I thought, silly me, that’s exactly your expertise, market stories you loved and liked to read. I guess I was wrong. I self-published. 😉

  31. cherryevasquez

    It took lots of courage for you to come back and share your story.
    I truly appreciate you for this.

    I’d love to have you review my two children’s chapter books any time you’re up to it.

    My platform topics center on Diversity and Bullying issues. These are definitely two controversial topics.

    Take Care – Cherrye

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