Since publishing A Guilty Mind, I’ve been fortunate to be the guest speaker at several book clubs. One of the most popular questions is always, “Where do you get your ideas?” Of course, this is subjective for each writer and although I try to answer the question honestly, I’m not sure I satisfy those asking. In truth, I have no idea. The basic plot just comes to me and although it may be tweaked along the way, characters added and subtracted, details changed, or settings moved, the beginning and ending have been consistent. I don’t know if that’s true for other writers, but it is true for me.
However, the other question I get frequently is about why I self-published my book. This question is easier to answer. I’ve written before about how the publishing world has changed and although good books still get published in the traditional way, many good books get overlooked. In addition, self-publishing has become the method of choice for many established and popular authors as they abandon the old ways (leaving their publishers) in favor of the new. This is certainly one reason I chose to self-publish but not the only one. The truth is, I’m not sure I’ve given enough credit for my decision to those who deserve it.
Many friends have supported my writing over the years. They’ve followed my freelance articles, read my short stories, and critiqued the many drafts of A Guilty Mind. But that alone did not push me to self-publish. The idea did not really occur to me until a friend told me about an article she’d read in The Washington Post on the success of self-published writers. Then she sent me the article. Hmmm. Sounded interesting but I still wasn’t sold. After all, I had some positive agent feedback and two agents had recently requested the full manuscript. So, I went back to waiting. Then another friend mentioned it. So I went back to the article and read it again. Then I did a search and read more articles on the subject. Yes, I was intrigued but still hesitant. I talked about the idea at home but did not carry it any further. And I was still waiting.
Then, last Christmas, I opened a present I wasn’t expecting. My teenage daughter had found Self-Printed by Catherine Ryan Howard on Amazon, ordered it, and given it to me as a gift. Well, I thought. So, when we took a brief trip to New York over the holidays, I read the book. I was more intrigued than ever. One of the things I liked about the book is that the author is not proposing self-publishing as a way of announcing you are anti-traditional publishing. She recognizes that the publishing world is changing and that writers have simply more options than ever. My husband asked me questions about it. We discussed the idea and more importantly, the process of self-publishing. I did more research (including on blogs like The Creative Penn – see graphic) and my excitement grew. After months with the full manuscript, the agents had still not gotten back to me. This did not give me a feeling of confidence as I had been down this road before and previously, the agent had reported that while he liked my book and the writing, he didn’t think he could sell it. As a “debut” author, I could certainly understand the challenges agents face, too. So, my decision became easier. I would do it.
However, it was important to me to do it right. This blog was born (you must have a platform they say!) and I began making new writing friends. Then, I embarked on getting A Guilty Mind ready. The book had to be professionally edited and the cover had to be professionally produced. While I may have been “self-publishing”, I was going to treat the book to the same type of handling I believe it would have gotten through more traditional routes. That meant taking my time. It took 9 months to publish the book, even though it was technically finished when I started the process. Although being patient was difficult, it was critical.
When I published in September, no one was more supportive than my friends and family. There is no doubt in my mind that if those friends hadn’t planted the seed and my daughter hadn’t given me the book and my husband hadn’t encouraged me to go for it, A Guilty Mind might still be buried in the inbox of some agent in New York. And even if one of those agents had decided to represent me, I’m convinced the final published version would not be any better than what I did myself. And that for me is the most important part of all.
2012 was a great year. Here’s to an equally great 2013 to my friends, family, and fellow writers everywhere!