Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Few Thoughts on Self-Publishing by ACFW Qualified Independent Publisher Stephenia H. McGee

So, you’re wondering what this self-publishing thing is all about. What will it mean? Will people think you weren’t “good enough” to have a “real” publisher, or are you getting directly to readers who will love your work, even if a house isn’t looking for your particular type of story exactly at the time you submitted it? These are questions each author needs to consider and pray over.

What are your goals? Are you looking for the satisfaction of “making it”? Is your goal writing full time? Do you long to see your book on a major bookstore’s shelf? What is it that, at the end of the day, means the most to you?

There are a lot of things that should be contemplated before you decide if, or why, you should consider self-publishing. But if you do, here are a few things I think might help you.

  • Craft. This almost goes without saying, but be sure to spend a lot of time honing your writing skills. You do NOT want to publish too early. Make sure what you have is good material before sending it out onto the internet. Work that isn’t ready will only hurt your career. 
  • Being self-published is running your own business. You will have to do bookkeeping and taxes. Be prepared to learn about a lot of business aspects if you don’t know them already. 
  • You will need to hire other professionals for the publishing process (don’t do these on your own unless you truly are a professional). Be sure to research and know how much to budget for an editor, cover artist, print and ebook formatting.
  • What about print books? There are a lot of POD services out there as well as companies such as Ingram that will list your book in catalogs for bookstore ordering. However, most are not likely to order from indie authors or small presses. 
  • No matter how you publish, be prepared to learn about marketing. Even with a traditional publisher, you’ll need to do your own marketing. Writers groups are very helpful and can give you ideas.
  • The benefits of self-publishing: Aside from having control over your product and your publishing schedule, you are the publisher, and therefore get both the publisher’s and the author’s cut.
  • Disadvantages: Don’t expect to see you book on a major bookstore’s shelf. Reviews with big magazines are much harder to get, and visibility is more difficult to achieve. 

Hopefully, this gives you a little insight into the world of self-publishing, and gives you some things to think about if you are considering taking this road. The good thing is, writers these days have more options than ever. You can be traditionally published, self-published, or be a hybrid of both. Authors now have a better opportunity than ever before to connect directly with their readers. It’s a great time to be a writer!


Stephenia H. McGee became a qualified independent publisher with the ACFW two months after the release of her first title, The Whistle Walk. Since then, she’s published five other novels set in historic Southern locations, including her bestselling novel In His Eyes (Belmont Plantation in Greenville, Mississippi) and The Liberator Series (Rosswood Plantation near Natchez). Her newest Civil War novel, Eternity Between Us will release this October. Stephenia lives in Mississippi with her husband and sons where she writes stories of faith and love steeped in the South.

Stephenia's website, which also includes the book trailer and excerpt: