Thursday, September 13, 2012

Self-Publishing: Reflections on 2012 (so far)

Today I resolved to tackle the paper piles in my house, throwing out what I don't need and filing everything else--a task that's easier said than done. I definitely need to get one of those scan-to-your-computer gizmos. (I found an ad for one in one of my piles.)

The problem for me is that I'm self-employeed and have to save receipts, etc for my records. I have various interests and tend to collect articles that reflect those interests, especially if I might write about or speak on those topics. Then add to the piles the scraps of paper I write on whenever I have a story or article idea, or do some scribbled journaling about what I'm thinking or feeling....

As I sorted out papers, putting them into smaller piles, a stack of bulletins from church started growing ever larger. On Sundays during the sermon, I'm often jotting down quotes, Bible verses, and my own ideas about what's being said. Sometimes, story ideas come to me or a bit of a scene or dialogue. It might not even be about a work in progress, but about one of the future stories I have in my head. I scribble all these things down on the bulletin, which luckily has enough white space in the margins for me to do so, although you might have to turn the paper several angles to read everything.

On the bulletin for New Year's Day, one of my comments at the bottom of the page was: "This is where my heart is leading me. Trust that there's a reason."

Those two lines referred to my concerns about moving away from being a psychotherapist and corporate crisis and grief counselor to becoming a REAL writer. The challenge for me was (and still is) my deeply held belief that I'm a healer--that's my purpose in life. As a psychotherapist and crisis counselor, I touch many lives. I make a difference. And while I know my nonfiction writing also makes a difference, especially The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving, I'm not sure my fiction does.

Yet, the doors to my former life seem to be closing. My practice is down. I haven't been getting as many crisis calls. And I don't care! I like having a small practice and only one or two crisis jobs a month. I like having more time to write. And my self-publishing income has made that possible.

On January 1, 2012, I couldn't know that in two weeks I would receive a call from Lindsay Guzzardo at Amazon Montlake, wanting to acquire the Montana Sky series. I couldn't know I'd say yes. I did know that in mid-January, I'd self-publish Stormy Montana Sky, but I didn't know how well the book would do, and that having a third book would lift the sales of books one and two.

On that New Year's Day, I didn't know my sales on Barnes & Noble would finally take off, that my self-publishing income would double and some months even triple, or best of all, that Wild Montana Sky would make the USA Today Bestseller List in April.

At that time, I hadn't conceived of writing a collection of Christmas stories. I didn't even know I could write short stories. But I self-published Montana Sky Christmas on August 27th.

I didn't know I'd make some changes in my personal life, such as breaking up with my boyfriend of six years, which would impact my writing career (more time to write.) Or that my young cousin would be hit by a car and killed, sidelining my writing for several weeks as I dealt with my own and my family's grief.

I didn't realize how much I'd absolutely love the wonderful team at Montlake who worked so hard to make my books a success. Publishing with Montlake has been a dream--so unlike the horror stories I often heard (or hear) about traditional publishing. For example, I never even conceived that the series could have an ad like they made. Wow.

My print books arrived yesterday, and I teared up as soon as I realized the boxes were from Montlake. Even though I've sold about 140,000 ebooks, holding my own print versions was a special experience--a dream come true. Here's the boxes as I've opened them.

The decision to self-publish my books has taken me on quite a journey, more wonderful than I could ever have imagined.

I've followed my heart all year. Sometimes, that's led to some bruising, but for the most part, I think I'm on the right path.


  1. What a ride! Congrats on following your heart. Love seeing your books in print and congratulations on your remarkable achievements. Appreciate how generous you always are with advice and support.

  2. I always get verklempt when I read your posts here and elsewhere--you have that heart-warming touch.
    So I have no doubt that your fiction stories will help people heal.
    Congratulations on all you've accomplished--and for getting through the difficulties of your year--so far.
    And what Bev said--Thank you for your kind support to other writers!
    Stephanie Queen

  3. Well, didn't that just start me sniffling, Deb. But in the nicest way. Your heart has certainly steered you right!

  4. What a wonderful post, Debra. Your year already has been filled with peaks and valleys, but it sounds like everything is going in the direction your heart was leading you!

  5. That's a lovely way to put things. I hope you have continued success...

  6. Thanks, ladies, for your support and kind words!

  7. Good for you, Debra...good for you!

    Thanks for the wonderful update.


  8. Thank you, Debra, for this lovely and intimate blog. Your books are excellent and Montlake sounds like a writer's dream come true! Keep following your heart and writing great books!

  9. What a year you have had. I'm sorry for your losses and yet so happy that everything is working out in the writing department. I agree with Regina, keep following your heart and everything will be okay.

    Congratulations on all of your success so far!

  10. What a wonderful story, Debra, even in the midst of grief. Your writing success is so well deserved!

  11. I'm delighted by your success and grateful for your help as I've rewritten and reissued some of my print books, and now self-published an original. You're an inspiration!

  12. Thanks for all the support, ladies! :)