“Are You Legit?” One Author’s Take On Self-Publishing

Today’s Writer’s Life column is offered by Kimberly Carlson, CEO of First Snow Publishing. Kimberly founded First Snow herself after years of frustration pursuing traditional publishers for her novel OUT OF THE SHADOWS. “I got mad. No longer were the rejections making me cry. I knew my novel was good,” she says. What happened next? Here is her story.

* * * 

Over ten years ago when I first heard of vanity publishing, I swore I’d never self-publish. I felt it was for the second-class writer, the writer who wasn’t really good enough, or the writer who didn’t work hard enough. I’ve been writing for thirteen years. I’ve completed three manuscripts. I have an MA in English and have attended numerous writing conferences, working under great names like Jane Hamilton, Karen Joy Fowler, Sandra Scofield. I am a serious and disciplined writer.

After I finished my third manuscript, OUT OF THE SHADOWS, and agents in New York said things like “In this publishing climate…,” or simply sent me a form rejection letter. I got mad. No longer were the rejections making me cry. I knew my novel was good, just as good if not better, than many that were being published by New York publishers.

With a bit of encouragement from friends I decided not only to self-publish but to open my own publishing company. First Snow Publishing House became my business. At the end of May, 2012, First Snow published its first work of fiction, OUT OF THE SHADOWS.

I have complete control over my novel. This of course has given me much work and pride. I hired my editor and graphic designer, my cover design, my paper, and my font. My acknowledgment page is over six pages in length. I was the one to choose if I wanted a comma before and in a list, in a series. I feel like the book is mine. But with that so are the mistakes. I cringe when I find one and I walk around the house for a half a day asking myself, “How?” Are my readers, my former teachers going to think I am stupid?

And of course there is the businesswoman hat that I have learned to wear. I figured out how to get my book on Amazon; and soon, Barnes and Nobles will carry it. I had to be assertive and ask writers, a director, humanitarian workers for reviews. I created my own websites. And the list goes on. My book has been available for over two months, and I now I am doing another printing. Have I received the money back I put into the book? Not yet…but I trust this will happen. I keep a box of books in my car, local and not so local bookstores are asking me to do signings.

I sometimes feel deflated when people ask who my publisher is—basically I feel they are asking, “Are you legit?” Sometimes, I need to remind myself of those who self-published—Virginia Wolff, Anais Nin, Alexandre Dumas, e.e. cummings, Beatrix Potter, Edgar Allen Poe, and so many more. I believe a successful story really comes down to the reader, not one’s editor or publishing house.

Thank you, Jenna, for asking me to write this for your blog; I am honored. I welcome any questions.

Kimberly Carlson, publisher, author
Out of the Shadows can be purchased on Amazon
or at www.kimberly-carlson.com
www.firstsnowpublishinghouse.com

3 Responses to “Are You Legit?” One Author’s Take On Self-Publishing

  1. I came to this site because I was so impressed by both of Jenna’s books (I read them back-to-back!). But I stayed to read her blog and I’m glad I did. Like Kimberly, I am a committed and practiced writer with a number of degrees, previously published non-fiction, and the backing of several established writers. I have completed three novels, each of which almost immediately found an agent who wanted to represent it, but in the end, no publisher. And like her, I swore I’d never self-publish. Then the climate changed. As in film-making and music, indie has become a valid way to go as publishers implode and are absorbed by one another. My novel, Come From Nowhere, has been out under 3Ring Press since April and enjoys steady sales and gratifying feedback. Iam almost geting used to people asking when my next one will be available! Nevertheless, as an indie writer, I can’t expect reviews in the traditional publications or even most well-established book blogs. I struggle for every bit of exposure. And I, too, calm myself with the litany of those self-published writers who came before me. And yet, I have no regrets. I had complete control and got exactly the cover, interior art, and design I wanted and I’m as proud of the ‘product’ as I am of the artistic content.
    Kimberly, I look forward to reading Out of the Shadows, and I look forward to a day when we won’t have to prove our “legitimacy” to a doubting world. thanks for putting it so well, for all of us.

    • Ellen, I love your dedication, enthusiasm, and support of your fellow writers! Thanks for letting us know about COME FROM NOWHERE. Would you want to post a link so we can get better acquainted?

      Happy writing! (and self-promoting….that is another post. 🙂 )

      xo,
      Jenna.

  2. I came to this site because I was so impressed by both of Jenna’s books (I read them back-to-back!). But I stayed to read her blog and I’m glad I did. Like Kimberly, I am a committed and practiced writer with a number of degrees, previously published non-fiction, and the backing of several established writers. I have completed three novels, each of which almost immediately found an agent who wanted to represent it, but in the end, no publisher. And like her, I swore I’d never self-publish. Then the climate changed. As in film-making and music, indie has become a valid way to go as publishers implode and are absorbed by one another. My novel, Come From Nowhere, has been out under 3Ring Press since April and enjoys steady sales and gratifying feedback. Iam almost geting used to people asking when my next one will be available! Nevertheless, as an indie writer, I can’t expect reviews in the traditional publications or even most well-established book blogs. I struggle for every bit of exposure. And I, too, calm myself with the litany of those self-published writers who came before me. And yet, I have no regrets. I had complete control and got exactly the cover, interior art, and design I wanted and I’m as proud of the ‘product’ as I am of the artistic content.
    Kimberly, I look forward to reading Out of the Shadows, and I look forward to a day when we won’t have to prove our “legitimacy” to a doubting world. thanks for putting it so well, for all of us.

Leave a reply