On a recent Sunday morning, I sat at the computer, finger poised above the mouse. With both fear and excitement, I clicked “Publish.” Within minutes, my children’s chapter book, “The Adventures of Tempest & Serena,” was self-published and available in paperback and e-book at online retailers, bookstores, schools and libraries everywhere.
Ten years ago, I never would have clicked that button.
For a professional writer like myself, self-published used to be a cringe-worthy embarrassment. It was a cheap shortcut filled with steep fees paid to scam-like vanity presses. It was an admission that you weren’t good enough for the major publishers and weren’t serious about writing. It was akin to a big scarlet letter on a résumé.
“I feel like I’m the Cinderella story,” says Colorado Springs teen-romance author Anne Eliot. “I am the miracle girl.”
For years, Eliot queried traditional publishers with her novel “Almost,” a love story about a teen with lingering rape-related PTSD. Editors said they “really liked it but didn’t have a home for that type of book,” Eliot says.
So on Super Bowl Sunday 2012, she launched it as a self-published work.
“Almost” has risen as high as No. 51 on Amazon’s list of all Kindle books sold and was No. 1 in Amazon’s Kindle stores in France and Germany. A renowned literary agent now represents Eliot’s subsidiary and foreign rights for “Almost” and another book just out.
Eliot’s story is the sum of an industry. When the economy tanked a few years ago, traditional publishing was hit hard. Opportunities for authors dried up.