How Amazon Saved My Life

by Jessica Park

I am an author.

I still can’t get used to that title, but I suppose after having written seven books–five of them traditionally published–that’s what you’d call me.  The funny thing is that I feel more like a real author now that I self-publish than when I had the (supposed) support of a publisher behind me.

How did I end up on my own?  It began when I couldn’t get my first YA book, Relatively Famous, published, despite getting stellar feedback from editors and nearly selling the film rights to a teen pop star. I was at a loss for what to do. I couldn’t keep writing books without selling them. What if the next thing I wrote flopped? I took a risk, in many ways, and wrote Flat-Out Love. It was the first book that completely came from my heart, and it was a book that ignored all the industry rules. I knew in the back of my head that I could self-publish it, but at the time it seemed like that would have been an admission of defeat.

I spent months thinking that I needed a big publisher in order to be a writer, to legitimately carry that “author” title. To validate me, and to validate Flat-Out Love. I needed a publisher to print my books and stick a silly publishing house emblem on the side of a hard copy. They were the only way to give my books mass distribution, and having them back me would mean that readers would know my book was good.

I also, apparently, thought that I needed to be taken advantage of, paid inexcusably poorly, and chained to idiotic pricing and covers that I had no control over.

I was, it seems, deluded.

It turns out that I was entirely wrong. I was missing what I really wanted. One of the major reasons that I write is to connect with readers, not publishers. The truth is that I couldn’t care less whether New York editors and publishers like me. I don’t want to write for them. I want to write for you. The other undeniable truth is that readers could care less that my books aren’t put out by a big publisher. They read for the content, not the publishing house emblem.

I have a lovely, smart, powerhouse agent, who tried to sell my next book, Flat-Out Love, to every major publishing house. She adored the story and thought it would sell. Fourteen editors turned it down, although each one said how strong the book was. But, editors seemingly didn’t give a crap about whether or not they liked the book. What they did pay attention to were their totally misguided ideas about what would and wouldn’t sell. I heard two things over and over again about my book. The first was that my story starred an eighteen-year-old college freshman, and that age was “categorically” too old for YA books and too young for adult books. It seems that one is not allowed to write about characters between the ages of eighteen and…what? Twenty-five? Because… because… Well, I’m not sure. The second thing I heard was that because my simultaneously-too-young-and-too-old heroine was not involved with anything slightly paranormal, the book wouldn’t sell.

Did I cry over some of these rejections? Absolutely. Did I feel inadequate, untalented, hurt? Yes. Did I doubt my ability to craft a story that readers could fall in love with? You bet.

And then one day I got yet another rejection letter and instead of blaming myself and my clear lack of creativity, I got angry. Really, really furious. It clicked for me that I was not the idiot here. Publishing houses were. The silly reasons that they gave me for why my book was useless made me see very clearly how completely out of touch these houses were with readers. I knew, I just knew, that I’d written a book with humor, heart, and meaning. I’d written something that had potential to connect with an audience. As much as I despise having to run around announcing how brilliant I supposedly am and whatnot, I also deeply believed in Flat-Out Love. I knew that editors were wrong.

And I finally understood that I wanted nothing to do with these people.

I snatched the book back from my agent and self-published it. With great relief, I should note. I could finally admit to myself that the only thing I had really wanted was to be told, “You’re good enough.” You know who gives me that? My readers. My generous, loving, wild readers.

Publishers pay terribly and infrequently. They are shockingly dumb when it comes to pricing, and if I see one more friend’s NY-pubbed ebook priced at $12.99, I’m going to scream. They do minimal marketing and leave the vast majority of work up to the author. Unless, of course, you are already a big name author. Then they fly you around the country for signings and treat you like the precious moneymaking gem that you are. The rest of us get next to nothing in terms of promotion. If your book takes off, they get the credit. If it tanks, you get the blame.

No, thank you. I’m all set with that.

You know who I do like, though? Amazon. Well, all online ebook sites that let me self-publish, but Amazon is the true powerhouse right now. Say what you want about this company, but it’s because of them that I can continue writing. It’s unclear to me how a big publisher thinks that I could live on their typical payouts, and why they think I should drop to my knees in gratitude for their deigning to even publish my book in the first place when I’ll do all the work myself. I’m not going to be grateful for that nonsense, but I am going to be grateful as hell to Amazon.

Bestselling trad-to-indie-author Barry Eisler, famous for turning down a six figure deal from St. Martins Press to go out on his own, took a lot of heat for having compared an author’s relationship with a big publisher to Stockholm syndrome. The truth is that it’s not a bad comparison at all. Snarky, funny, and exaggerated, perhaps, but there is more than one grain of truth there, and I just know that authors across the country were nodding so violently that we had collective whiplash. When writing for a publisher, you learn to be overly thankful for every pathetic little grain of positivity that comes your way. A disgustingly awful cover? Smile broadly and say how gorgeous it is. Contracts arrive months after arranged? Whip out your pen and sign with no complaints. You’re eating Ramen noodles while they are taking all of December and January off and while they essentially shutdown during the summer to vacation on the Cape? Slurp your soup and be happy.

Because of Amazon and other sites, I’m making enough money that I can continue writing. I’m averaging sales of 3,500 books a month, not including the month that Amazon featured Flat-Out Love in a list of books for $3.99 and under. That month I sold 45,000 Kindle copies, and sold over 10,000 the next month. Those numbers are insane to me. Absolutely insane. The fact that I continue to sell well a year after the book’s release is humbling. Yes, I wrote a book that has earned me excellent reviews, so I take credit for that, and I worked myself to death finding bloggers to review my book (God bless my loyal bloggers who took a chance on me!), but I have to credit Amazon with giving me such a strong platform with such overwhelming visibility. I can be a writer. I am a writer.

And it’s not just me. Self-published authors, many of whom are writing about college-age characters, are finding viable careers. Abbi Glines, Tammara Webber, Jamie McGuire, Tina Reber, AK Alexander, Angie Stanton, Stephanie Campbell, Colleen Hoover, Liz Reinhardt, and plenty more. I’m seeing more and more traditionally published authors walking away from the headaches and turning to self-publishing. It can be tricky to leave because very often an author needs the advance money in order to survive, and then gets stuck contracted for books that quite likely won’t earn out that advance or won’t ever provide much in terms of royalty checks. When authors break the cycle, get the hell out, and flourish on their own, it’s a wonderful thing.

Indie writers owe Amazon big time for what they’ve given us. Are they perfect? No. Do they make mistakes? Yep. And they’ll continue to make mistakes. But I promise you that traditional publishers never call up their authors and ask what they can do better. I nearly wet my author pants when I got a call from someone in the Kindle publishing department who wanted to know what publishing and promotional features I’d like to see. He wanted to know all about my experience with them, what I liked, what I didn’t like, and on and on. I was floored. Amazon messed up their sales reporting page not that long ago, and you know what they did? They sent a goddamn email out to their authors explaining what had happened! And then they fixed it! Do you think a big publisher would do that? No, they certainly would not.

But you know what these silly NY publishers are doing? Running around trying to buy now-successful self-published books. I know more than one author who is making $50-150,000 a month (yes, a month) who are getting the most stupidly low offers from big publishers to take over that author’s book. Why would my friends take a $250,000 advance (if even offered that much), take a puny royalty rate, see their sales hurt by higher pricing, and completely give that book up for life? They can and will earn more themselves and continue to reap the benefits of a 70% royalty while maintaining all the rights to their work. If publishers want to play the game, they have to pay according to what authors can make without them. Offer something that we can’t do on our own. Help us, believe in us, support us, and play damn fair for once.

While I’m certainly not making $150,000 a month, Flat-Out Love has done very well for me, and I’m earning enough that I can keep writing. I’m in the middle of another book right now, and I realized that one of the many fabulous things about working for myself is that I have complete freedom to write whatever the hell I want. A publisher certainly could have bought Flat-Out Love and signed me for a two or three-book deal. One of the many whopping hitches with that would have been that I’d then have to write another book or two that were in a very similar vein to Flat-Out Love. But I don’t want to do that. I want to write the book that I am now. The book that has swearing and sex. The book that is darker and edgier. The book that is definitely not for younger readers. A publisher would never have let me do that.

The New York Times recently ran an article about authors who are now writing two books a year instead of one. Why? Because they need the money. Of course they need the money! Their publishers are gouging them out of money that is rightfully theirs. When I read about one highly successful author who is now writing for fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, I thought, “What a lunatic. That’s not a life.” Look, I don’t think any author needs to release two or three books a year to earn a living. If that’s what you are comfortably able to do creatively speaking, go for it. Being on a publisher’s deadline to deliver a book every four to six months can be pretty rough. Life gets in the way, and emotions and creativity ebb and flow.  Yes, writing is work and requires dedication, but it also has the capacity to be amazingly fun. Publishers, if you ask me, take a dump on much of the good stuff. For now, I’m happy to do one really strong, solid novel once every twelve to eighteen months. If I tried to bang out a book every few months, they would be crummy books, and I would be broke.

What’s funny is that despite loathing publishing houses these days, I actually hope that they pull their act together. They have distribution power. They have dedicated, talented people in the industry. They have the capability to do wonderful things. But for now they are so messed up, so outdated in the way they structure their contracts, and so often very out of touch with what readers want. Smart editors are often ruled by archaic designs. Do I have plans to seek out a publisher? Um, no. I can’t imagine one would take me anyhow. And I wouldn’t consider working with a publisher unless (until?) they make drastic changes to their business model.

Indie authors are writing for our readers, not for publishers and what they think will sell. And now we can afford to write! And I can assure you that freedom fuels creativity, risk-taking, and passion. We get to bring you our stories in the way we want to tell them, without the dilution and sculpting from publishing houses. And the fans? Oh, the fans are simply unbelievable. We are so directly connected to them, and the ease of communication and feedback is unparalleled. I’m learning what readers want, and I can incorporate that into my work without worrying that an editor will nix all the good stuff. Their support and enthusiasm breathes life into days when I feel particularly challenged.

And there are some spectacularly moving experiences. I’m in a circle of authors who have been dubbed The Cancer Warriors because our books have become saving graces for people going through cancer treatment. Readers are escaping hell on earth through our books. We sell smartly priced books with sharp content, books that never would have reached these readers without the ability to self-publish. We get to do our small part to help them fight. Getting to be part of something like this is at the top of my list for why I write. It makes me want to face New York publishers head on and scream, “You see that? Do you see what we’re doing without you?” Indie writing brought me into readers’ lives in ways that I never could have imagined.

I wouldn’t trade that for all of New York.


Jessica is the author of the novel FLAT-OUT LOVE, the YA novel, RELATIVELY FAMOUS, and the Gourmet Girl mystery series. She also has a few eshorts out: WHAT THE KID SAYS (1 & 2) and FACEBOOKING RICK SPRINGFIELD. She lives in Manchester, NH where she spends an obscene amount time thinking about rocker boys and their guitars, complex caffeinated beverages, and tropical vacations. On the rare occasions that she is able to focus on other things, she writes.

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395 replies
  1. avatar
    Danielle says:

    This is an INCREDIBLE post. Thank you for sharing your feedback so beautifully and candidly. You summarized everything I have been thinking for the past year and only made me that much more confident in my choice to self publish. Connecting with readers, telling stories they love and getting feedback is such an incredible part of why we write and I am so glad that you wrote this so others like me know there are others like us out there.

  2. avatar
    Amber LaShell says:

    I was approched by Jessica a couple of months before she released Flat-Out love to review her book. Well, the book was fantastic. I mean make you stay up until 3 in the morning reading because you cannot put it down fantastic, and I was sure to let Jessica know that.

    I have always loved to read and write, but after reading Jessica’s book, I realized that there were some really great book out there in the Indie world that I never knew about and know knowingly look for indie books to add to my Kindle. Not only did that make me see how great these book were to read, but then I got the courage to put my own 2 book out there (working on two more at the moment). While they aren’t doing nearly as well as Jessica’s book, I still love that I can get real reader feedback and know how to make my writing better every day.

    So, in short Thank you Jessica, for opening my eyes to the wonderful world of Indie Authors, it has completely changed my life.

    • avatar
      Jessica Park says:

      Amber, you were one of the bloggers who took a chance on me, and I will always be grateful. Much love to you!

  3. avatar
    Stephanie Queen says:

    Fabulous post, Jessica! Flat Out Love must be one hell of a book! You definitely need to give yourself tons of credit for writing it as well as believing in it–in yourself! All that enthusiasm makes me really want to go read Flat Out Love.
    I love the notion of not having to write several books a year to make a living–how retro!
    BTW, I also happen to be an indie author and live in Manchester, NH–how coincidental!
    Stephanie Queen

  4. avatar
    Catherine Czerkawska says:

    Thank-you for telling it like it is – and it’s pretty much the same here in the UK. I’ve had those strings of rave rejections too. ‘I love your novel’ says one editor after another, ‘But the marketing department doesn’t know how to sell it’ or ‘It doesn’t fit any genre’ or a hundred other reasons that have little to do with what readers actually want. Self publishing wasn’t an option way back when I first began to realise how unfair the system was to writers. I’d been traditionally published but although I worked myself half to death to promote the book, and although it sold out the print run, it didn’t sell quickly enough and they wouldn’t reprint. And Stockholm Syndrome pretty much describes that feeling of identification and sympathy with our captors, extreme as it sounds. There’s always money in the budget to pay their salaries but there’s never any money in the budget to pay the writers – apart from a chosen few. And yet we always manage to find excuses for them. Or – even when the door is wide open – find ourselves reluctant to fly out of the cage! With a rights reversion, I published that novel – called The Curiosity Cabinet – to Kindle, where it’s doing well. I’ve followed it up with two more and there’ll be another new one this year. It isn’t that I write particularly quickly – just that I got through a lot of writing while I was waiting for one of those editors to have the courage of her convictions and say yes! Now, I’d be very wary of another traditional deal. I love the sense of freedom and independence too much. But you’re so right – it’s the readers who matter most. I’ve suddenly found myself connecting with a great many people who weren’t finding the kind of books they wanted to read. And that feels good. Once again – thank-you for describing your own experience so clearly and so candidly. I think a lot of people will be cheering you on!

    • avatar
      Jessica Park says:

      What a great story, Catherine. I’m sorry for all the icky stuff you’ve gone through, but so happy to hear how you’ve managed to find a great path in this new world of self-publishing!

      • avatar
        Katherine Blanc says:

        I have been an author for 10 years, with 9 titles to my credit. Some were traditionally published, while others were self-published or created through “author services” companies.

        I’ve had varying degrees of success using the above methods, and was considering giving up on the publishing game entirely. But after hearing of your experience with KDP, my hope and enthusiasm are renewed. Thank you so much for dispelling the myth of either/or publishing, and showing us that there is indeed a Third Way.

  5. avatar
    Meryl Yourish says:

    That’s the one part of my marketing that’s got me the most flummoxed. How do I find people to review my book? Sure, you can google sites, but I see no point in getting someone to review it who has a site that a hundred people might actually read.

    I’m just about finished with my YA fantasy novel. I have the cover illustration, copy editor, and proofreader lined up, but the reviewers? They’re the tough part.

    • avatar
      Jessica Park says:

      Actually, don’t ignore sites that seem “smaller” to you. I contacted every blogger I could find, and did every interview/guest post etc. I truly saw a kind of grassroots effort. It’s a slow build, but a very solid one. Even if certain sites don’t look like guaranteed ways to sell you a ton of books, those blogs are networked into other blogs, and over time people start to see your name and book title on multiple sites. It’s well worth the effort.

  6. avatar
    Vincent Zandri says:

    I just returned from BEA where where I spent three days and nights with my new publisher, Thomas & Mercer of Amazon Publishing. When my novel The Innocent (and others along with it…) sold a couple hundred thousand copies with StoneGate Ink, which is an indie publisher based on the Amazon self-publishing model, the new crime imprint signed me for eight books. At the same time, they allow me to published independently. Can you imagine a legacy publisher doing that? I should know, since I’ve published a couple of books with a Random House imprint and the experience nearly broke me and my life. You should have seen the publishing party that took place on the roof of the Press Lounge in New York City just the other night. It was mobbed with agents, authors, the press and more…It was the place to be. Amazon is saving readers and authors, no doubt about it. I am reminded of ten and more years ago when the Barnes and Nobles and Borders blitzkrieg began taking out independent bookstores one by one. The publishers were in a panic then and sought only to get in bed with the bullies. For that, the writer suffered. Long live Amazon…I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
    Vincent Zandri

    • avatar
      Jessica Park says:

      Amazon essentially does everything right. They are smart and savvy, and doing EVERYTHING that legacy publishers refuse to do. Good for them. I heard about that BEA party, actually, and specifically heard how fun and happy it was, especially compared to other publishers’ parties. 🙂

  7. avatar
    Melanie S. Pronia says:

    Wow! What a pleasure to read! I too, am an indie author and while it’s not making me rich, I am playing by my own rules and have a blast dabbling into different genres.

    I truly believe that self-publishing is the future of writing!

  8. avatar
    Jamie Sedgwick says:

    Fantastic article. I was taken to task last week on Nathan Bransford’s blog because I said that I often feel sorry for traditionally pubbed authors after I hear their stories. Yes, it was a traditionally pubbed author -a new one with one book published- who took offense and then took at a swing at the “chip on my shoulder.” Oh, well.

    The truth is that it makes me smile when I hear these success stories, and it’s not because of some perceived grudge. It’s because I found another writer who was mistreated and then liberated. I’ve never been traditionally published (other than a couple short stories) so until recently I had no idea that things were so bad in the business. I read these stories and I’m horrified. But thankfully, these stories often have a happy ending and that usually has something to do with AMAZON and the other distributors like it.

    I think it’s fantastic that I and thousands of other writers can now make a living doing what we love, when a couple years ago we couldn’t get the time of day. I don’t hold a grudge against the legacy business because I’d like to be part of it at some point. Like you, I just hope they get their act together soon because this sort of thing is time sensitive.

  9. avatar
    Tracy Falbe says:

    I completely agree that you should feel very validated and justified with your decision to self publish. Readers are the only ones who matter. They’re paying for your work and appreciating it. I’ve always been sick of the notion that an author needs to be annointed by someone else before anyone dare risk their eyeballs on viewing the text. Imagine a musician never playing a song before having a recording contract. Imagine a painter never letting anyone see his or her painting until a third party deems it art. Authors need to do the same thing. If you like it and believe others might like it, then put it in the marketplace. No one gets what they want in this world by waiting for permission.

    • avatar
      Jessica Park says:

      It’s not that I was surprised that it felt good to hear from readers, but I really wasn’t prepared for how deeply they would reach me. They have just been incredible and have shared so many of their own stories with me. It’s been quite moving at times, and THAT is the kind of reward that means more than anything.

  10. avatar
    Tonya Kappes says:

    Love it, Jessica!! You give us a great outlook on our career. I’m sitting in the same boat as you were with a manuscript being tossed around in NY and about to snatch it back:)) You inspire me to do it!

    • avatar
      Jessica Park says:

      Take it back, Tonya! Take. It. Back. 🙂 Unless you are ready to lose all control over that book, it’s not worth it right now.

  11. avatar
    Jack Dunigan says:

    An oracle has spoken. I pitched a manuscript to publishers about 15 years ago. All of them wanted me to define and execute a marketing plan to sell my book. If I was to publish with any of them I would do the work in exchange for a very small piece of the pie. It seems all traditional publishers have become vanity houses. They continue to exist, at least in part, because of the vanity of authors who want to see their names in print and for publishers who want certain authors in their stable. This is revolution. Writers are taking over the world of the reader. I am a non-fiction author and proud to be an independent publisher. I have sold manuscripts to publishing companies several times but have neither the desire nor the need to do so ever again. Thank you for your post!!

  12. avatar
    Bernadette Davies says:

    Wow. What an extraordinary post!
    With all the doubts that there are about whether to go Indie or to go via a publishing house, you certainly gave me a lot to think about. I was positively glued to this post and read from start to finish and if your books read half as good as this did, then I reckon I should be heading to Amazon right now to buy myself a copy.
    Thank you, this gave me much food for thought.

  13. avatar
    James Rawbone says:

    What an inspiring article! I had a similar experience with publishing houses and finally self pub my book ‘Bunker’ this year with Amazon. I’ve been amazed and humbled by the response; thank you to all those who have supported, reviewed, crtiqued and bought!!

  14. avatar
    Bert Carson says:

    Well said, Jessica,
    After more than 200 rejections it dawned on me that I could self-publish and I’ve not looked back.
    Amazon is an indie author’s life saver.
    Good fortune in all your writing,

  15. avatar
    Moshe says:

    Great post!
    I, too, have an Indie middle-grade novel, “Xor: The Shape of Darkness”, getting great reviews.
    Now it’s marketing, marketing, marketing…

  16. avatar
    Chris Jeffery says:

    I am not an author in any way. But I have a great interest in how the internet is empowering people to create there own success. I loved reading this post and I would even go as far as to say, if you were to wright a short story about how (in just a little moor detail) the internet has changed your life. I would buy it and I think you would be surprised at how many people are interested in that type of story. Keep up the good work, You sound like you deserve every thing you are receiving.

  17. avatar
    Karie Clingo says:

    Jessica, Thank you!!! This is so REFRESHING and INSPIRING!….I have just been validated…which we honestly need as lonely writers, staying up at all hours of the night to tap out our dream stories and watch our thoughts fill the screen in front of us….BECAUSE, I just paid a chunk of change with to self publish my first two books….and have Amazon promote it too. Aaaaaaa…the sound of my relief on the other end of the screen. It was a jump of faith, thank you for letting me know where I will be landing!

  18. avatar
    Benjamin says:

    I had a shiver up my spine reading this post. It’s brilliantly un-PC and straight to the heart of the issue a lot of writers are feeling at the moment. I spoke to an older author who made a career out of writing forty years ago and it seemed that back then publishers actually read books and published them because they loved them not catering to some nutty in-house statistics. This kind of bureaucratic behavior comes from fear. They’re running scared. But as a writer it makes me feel like I’m smacking my head against the wall sending manuscripts out. Recently, I’ve just entered the jungle and self published on Amazon – now the marketing fun begins.

  19. avatar
    Kim Croft says:

    Jessica, Your story has given me hope. I too am an author. I have written four novels now and have been trying for a year to get my first one published. I get rejection after rejection and was completely discouraged until I read this. This has given me the hope I need to get my book out there where it should be. Thank you. You have made my day and I feel like things are looking up now.

  20. avatar
    Benjamin says:

    I had a shiver up my spine reading this post. It’s brilliantly un-PC and straight to the heart of the issue a lot of writers are feeling at the moment. I spoke to an older author who made a career out of writing forty years ago and it seemed that back then publishers actually read books and published them because they loved them not catering to some nutty in-house statistics. This kind of bureaucratic behavior comes from fear. They’re running scared. But as a writer it makes me feel like I’m smacking my head against the wall sending manuscripts out. I’ve just joined the jungle and self-published on Amazon – now the marketing begins.

  21. avatar
    Laura Dennis says:

    Thanks so much for this thoughtful article, and thanks to Amazon for putting it on their homepage today, so I actually came across it! The idea that authors need publishers and agents to legitimize their work is on its way to becoming so outdated, we may look back in another year or two and laugh that publishers once held so much power!

    My memoir, ADOPTED REALITY, has been rejected by several agents so far — mostly because it’s so hard to believe it’s true (who would want to take that sort of risk on an unknown writer — and have the Mr. Fray Incident to deal with) and because the first 20 pages are all based in a bipolar delusion. It’s hard to believe it’s not made up, but I just couldn’t change the story just for the purposes of getting traditionally published. So, thanks to Amazon and Smashwords, here I am.

    Now I just need to write as many books as you, Jessica! Because, writing is what is getting authors a platform and an audience — not publishers!

    Wishing you all the best …
    Laura Dennis

  22. avatar
    Bill O'Riordan says:

    Gosh, how did you get all those people to find out about your book. I got myself on the telly last month & national radio here in Ireland, and I still have only managed 22 books so far, and to date I’ve no kindle editions? I guess my book of self penned inventions is a tougher sell.

    Best of luck to you all though.


  23. avatar
    Bob Blick says:

    I love reading these stories about success on Amazon. I have several nonfiction books, most in the paranormal field, on Amazon right now and am delving into fiction, using a pen name so as not to confuse my readers. The books I have now are helping pay for my wife’s anti-rejection medication, a huge help since I am retired. Thank goodness for Amazon and the Kindle book readers. I was doing decent with Google Adsense but all their constant changes and lack of communication got to be too much and that’s tanking. Amazon actually responds to your questions!

    Congratulations on your new found success. Books are becoming less costly and more diverse. My wife has the Kindle and I use an app to read the books and now read more than ever. Seeing success stories from people such as yourself is great and hopefully attracts more readers. Great article.

  24. avatar
    Robin de Jongh says:

    Hi Jessica. Thanks for your amazing, heartfelt post!

    I’d like to just pose some additional points of view to balance what you’ve said. Firstly, I wonder how relevant this is to most first time authors? You say that you have already authored five books for traditional publishers so this undoubtedly puts you in a different category to most people reading this. Going through the rigourous editorial process of a publisher, where you are forced to take into account the views of experienced editors and reviewers, will have given you the skills to now go it alone. I would not necessarily agree that all first timers should go it alone. By all means, self publish, but use a freelance editor and a group of friendly but honest proof readers.
    Secondly, for non-fiction books it may be better for authors to go with a reputable publisher. I wrote my first book (SketchUp for Architectural Visualization) for Packt Publishing, and the kudos of writing for a recognised publisher opened many doors for me. I was sceptical at first but incredibly pleased in the end at how much improved my first draft manuscript was after four or five stages of editing had been completed.
    Thirdly, I can’t speak for NY publishers, but I can say that not all publishers are equal. I now work for my publisher as an acquisition editor, and I can honestly say that our royalties are some of the best in the industry, and the value we add to the author is immense. Simply working with an author at the start to get a market focused book outline sorted out can add imeasurable value. Being there to mentor and refocus the author at difficult times can make the difference between sink or swim. Also, having staff who chase chapter submissions from the author can help authors stay focused and finish a project when they would otherwise have quit.
    I’m not saying you’re wrong in anything you’ve said, but let’s round out the picture! Publishers should certainly all take this as a “shot across the bow” from self publishers and take note. Thanks again!

  25. avatar
    Tom Carter says:

    An inspiring essay for aspiring authors, though I will wager my next royalties check that should tomorrow a Big-6 publisher happen to offer Jessica Park a 7-figure contract for the rights to all her past, present and future novels, she, just as any of us would, will happily sign on the dotted line.

    Why? Global brick and mortar distribution, reviews and interviews in the mass media, and of course, Hollywood options – and with it the sales, celebritydom and gross percentages that Amazon can never offer…yet. And I say that with a pang in my heart because I appreciate what Amazon is doing for unknown, unpublished authors – offering us encouragement and exposure – and I look forward to a literary revolution as much as the next dejected writer.

    But until that day, the vapidly rapacious American publishing industry remains so incestuously in bed with commercial retail, with the mass media, and with Hollywood, that in our heart of hearts all of us know we would sell out in a New York minute to get a New York contract.

    • avatar
      Paula O'Keefe says:

      You’re speaking for yourself, and that’s fine, but please don’t assume that “any of us would” take the big offer and sign away our work. If you read Ms. Park’s piece you should have noticed the sense of freedom and independence it expressed; that’s worth a lot. What’s so great about brick-and-mortar distribution when e-book sales go infinitely further? And what on earth would be great about seeing your brainchild dumbed down and messed up into a Hollywood film?
      Wager all you like, but you’d lose your bet on me.

  26. avatar
    Tom says:

    The blog was truly interesting.

    What I appreciate the most is that a blog posted on the Amazon homepage contains various swearing throughout it. I guess educate and professionalism are becoming a thing of the past.

  27. avatar
    Tom says:

    I apologize Jessica. My post was a comment towards Amazon because I hadn’t realized it linked to the actual blog. Obviously, anyone is entitle to use any language they want in their own blogs.

    Again, I do sincerely apologize and meant no offense.

  28. avatar
    Leroy Gaman says:

    Oh good Lord girl, will you kindly;

    get over yourself;
    quit spruiking for Amazon – the literary equivalent of Wal-Mart (only far more culturally deleterious)

    If you really loved books so much, you’ll wouldn’t be writing grovelling encomia before online billionaires like Jeff Bezos who are wiping out good bookstores all over the world.

    “I couldn’t care less whether New York editors and publishers like me. I don’t want to write for them. I want to write for you.”

    Aw, that’s touching. But unfortunately you seem to have forgotten that most book-buyers (the “you” you are sententiously mind-reading) depend very heavily on the taste and discernment exercised by even medium-sized publishers to stop the world of publishing from turning into the soupy, no-quality free-for-all that the world of blogs already is.

    Do you have any idea of the size of the slush pile our bookshelves would have to accommodate if we listened to bawling wannabes (“Did I cry over some of these rejections? Absolutely. Did I feel inadequate, untalented, hurt? Yes. “) such as yourself who proceed from the premise that they won’t publish your book to the conclusion that they mustn’t be worth a toss?

    I know nothing about your book, dear, but I can tell you this straight out: I won’t be reading it after learning about it through a whiny diatribe. So consider your work rejected all over again (except that this time you don’t get to blame the publisher).

    • avatar
      Jay says:

      The pain of a failed writer … I feel for you. It’s hard to see someone else’s success, isn’t it?

      I would like to point out one ridiculous logical fallacy in your post, that our bookshelves would be overrun if everyone that wanted to be published had the chance. Our bookshelves would be overrun now if you bought everything indiscriminately. Is that the sort of reader you are? It’s a book, I must buy it.

      Sometimes the audience for a book is one. Sometimes the audience is one million. The reader decides. Furthermore, I’d rather have the option to have the ability to read something than have that decision made for me by some intern in New York. Believe it or not, there is room in this world for both Amazon and publishing houses.

      What I don’t feel there is room for in this world is cruel snark meant to hurt simply because of the pain the speaker is in.

      • avatar
        Jessica Park says:

        Well. Thank you, Jay. Well said. No book is universally loved, and no one will ever be forced to read my book. Much to their delight.

        • avatar
          Holmwood says:

          Bang on, Jessica. I’m afraid I’m one of them. Your work doesn’t seem to be for me. But it is the kind of thing my sister would probably like, so I’ll point her at your work. (And I didn’t think your post was remotely whiny; I liked it.)

          Wading through dross (or good, but personally not appropriate as in the case of Jessica Park for me) isn’t a big deal. Crowdsourcing combined with intelligent use of social media and above all individual judgement works pretty well for me as a reader.

          I hear about books from sites like this, from friends, from social media, and from blogs I frequent that match my interest. (One such blog pointed me here; that same blog pointed me at James Lileks’ Falling Up the Stairs). I decided quite quickly Jessica’s writing probably wasn’t my thing. Lileks looked more plausible for me; I read an excerpt and bought. $2.99 wasn’t that killer a price.

          Contrast the effort I’d have to go through without epublishing. Hear about the two books. Remember them for a day or ten. Look at them in a store if they are even in stock, which they probably won’t be. Burn fuel driving around to find them. Wait for trees to be cut down, pulped, processed, inked and delivered to my door to read reviews of these books to assist my decision. etc.

          I think there will be room for publishing houses, but they really have to step up their game. I am sick of reading a AAA novel from a bestselling author only to discover that no serious editing was done. Similarly, I’m tired of the ridiculous games (thanks to publishers splitting up territories) one sometimes has to play to legally purchase a copy of a work outside the UK/US. Yeah, maybe slicing things up into territories made sense back in the day when we still thought steam engines were a pretty neat idea, but I’m not so sure it makes as much sense these days.

          Ah, now I’m ranting about publishers. Sorry.

          Good post Jessica, good luck, and I’ll be sure and mention you to friends and family that are more likely to appreciate your work.

    • avatar
      Leah says:

      soupy, no-quality free-for-all

      Hate to break it to ya, Leroy, but that is the current state of literature in the US. Your threats and portents ring laughably hollow.

      You’re emitting some powerful Douchebag With an MFA and a Literary Fiction Project That Won’t Sell vibes. Want a hug?

    • avatar
      Marcela says:

      Ugh. You need to get overYOURself, dear.

      If she’s such a ‘whiner’ than why do more and more authors are taking this route, even traditionally published ones?

      And BTW – Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, and Walt Whitman have all self-published. So by your standards, they aren’t worth reading. Stephanie Meyer, however, is a millionaire – so her work must be exceptional, right?

  29. avatar
    JJ Sobrinho says:

    I want to thank you for your testimony, your description about the rejection of manuscripts dealing with the publishers and the lack of description with the authors is reflected worldwide.
    I am Brazilian and here the problem is similar – combined with television culture and a small editorial appetite – such as a country of 200 million inhabitants have about 30 million readers and they are divided into 62% of self-help readers and 22% readers of fantasy fiction – in fact the genre I like very much to write.
    I have written eight books and the refusal of more than eight publishers, I have still a trilogy (trilogy Luke Kaitos), which is having a great appreciation for American readers, British and Germans. I am anxiously awaiting the cgegada the Amazon in Brazil.
    Here in Brazil as well as all especílios and pointed out that you mentioned in your wonderful post, we still have the Law of the eBook – which is nothing but a way protencionista shield protecting the publishing half a dozen authors.
    I am very happy to read his life story and see what it looks like all of us young writers who find their space in the sun I know it’s just the tip of an iceberg and their success will still be much higher.
    Much happiness and success – while 90% of people holding jobs that do not support around a mediocre salary and that consumes their lives – we writers have 100% passion to write books directly to our beloved readers, thanks to this incredible company called Amazon – a watershed that have to change a whole culture.
    Thank you Jessica Park, thank you Amazon.

  30. avatar
    Virginia Kirchner says:

    I recently left my big corporate job to move home to be with my family… and I am sending out resume out resume, with some serious qualifications and experience… and finally now, I am done, and as scarry as it is, I am going it on my own as a business consultant. Just like you said,we no longer need someone else to validate our talents… Congratulations to you! And thank you for that extra burst of inspiration!

  31. avatar
    Tom Aston says:

    This is an inspiring post, Jessica. I’ve just been through two years of beating myself against the brickwall of the “big” publishing houses in London and New York. I guess I was lucky in as much as they read my work. Like you, I had mostly positive feedback – but ultimately felt forced into a deadend of just writing to please a tiny number of “judges”. in the end it was a case of “two years ago we would have published this, but now…”

    Getting rid of my agent and setting out on my own was a truly liberating experience, and I have just published my novel “The Machine” on Kindle. I wish you every success in your writing career.

    • avatar
      Larry says:

      I have received the exact same comments from publishers (and from my agent on one manuscript) “This book would have started a bidding war five years ago, but now….” WTF am I supposed to do with that? Be happy? Tell people I might have been a success if I had started a little sooner?

      Good luck with self-pubbing. I’ll be joining you there soon.

  32. avatar
    Carol Verhoff says:

    My ultimate goal is to entertain readers and get paid a little something to do so. For the longest time I thought publishers were a necessary step to fulfilling my dream. Apparently, not. Thank you for having the courage to share your insights on big publishers versus Indie authors. You’re a smart lady and an inspiration.

  33. avatar
    Kari says:

    I just saw your book Flat Out Love posted on Amazon’s homepage and purchased it. I absolutely love the idea of Amazon (among others) getting these amazing books to the public. Thank you for writing and I am looking forward to reading your book. Keep being a positive light for others out there who have great books that need to be seen!

  34. avatar
    Nicci Leigh says:

    Thank you Jessica for such a wonderful article! I am also an Indie author on Amazon, and I often describe my experiences as an Independent of ‘being a black sheep wearing white wool!’ Especially after my recent trip to Book Expo America in NYC. The traditional publishing model is still the standard in everyone’s mind and and the stigma attached to us Indie’s can be stifling at times. But I don’t mind being a rebel. I have always been one! Rebellion comes when there is a need for change. I agree with you wholeheartedly on the problems with traditional publishing, that’s why Amazon has provided us a way.

    If Indie authors can group together and provide a standard of quality and excellence in our work, we can show or readers and the trade pub industry that self publishing will become the standard and help pave the way for a new era in the way art is shared. Hats off to you and your success!

    Nicci Leigh
    Author of “Princess Bitch: A Woman’s Guide to Empowerment”

  35. avatar
    Loay Ragheb says:

    Hello Dear
    I salute you for your spirit and fight. Myself, I am a self published author of the book “The Higher You” and I didn’t even
    entertain publishing companies. I self published. However, I would love to know how did amazon do that for you. I am on amazon as well.
    Thanks and keep writing.
    Great work.

  36. avatar
    Anthony Flood says:

    Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement. One quibble (one writer to another): your readers care so little about what publishers think, they could not care less. Only one who cares to some extent is capable of caring less than that. That is, only those who care at all can “care less.”

  37. avatar
    Daniel Grant Newton says:

    Good on you Jessica! I just finished my first book a number of months ago, but when weighing up whether to self-publish or publish, it was an easy choice. Aside from the better royalty, the creative control is so important. Having stories moulded to a ‘successful archetype’ is a crime against creativity, and means books start sounding the same. Pure creativity is beyond market research of what worked once. Even if I didn’t sell a book, I am happy it says exactly what I wanted it to say, and how I wanted it to be said. Thanks for your article. It was very encouraging as I continue my Indie journey.

  38. avatar
    Chuck D. says:

    Bravo, Jessica! Bravo! Thank you for putting this out and congratulations on the success you’ve had.

    I just have to tell you this…

    One NY editor, a well-known one, sent his rejection email to my agent with these words: “When I finished the book, I nearly leapt from my chair to run and show my fellow editors what I’d discovered. But, alas, I was suddenly struck cold for reasons I cannot explain. It’s because of the chill that I must pass.”


    So, yes, you captured the bizarro world that is NY publishing.

    Great job!

  39. avatar
    Sandra Carey Cody says:

    Love this post, especially “…freedom fuels creativity, risk-taking, and passion.” You’ve captured the essence of why writers write, which is all too often edited out by the time our stories reach readers.

  40. avatar
    Carla S says:

    I don’t know how to say thank you enough. My mother has dreamed her whole life of being a publish author and is now in the process of wrapping up writing her first book. Reading this post has been incredibly eye opening and has giving me some knowledge now in which to help her. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  41. avatar
    Curt on Cape Cod says:

    Hi, just wanted to say Hi! I enjoyed the post and thought I would tell you why I just bought my first Kindle book from Amazon. 1. Your picture and story were featured on the front of my Amazon page when I logged on. I read the blurb from Mr. Bezos. Humm! Interesting. 2. Most of my experience with reading self published has not thrilled me but then Amazon let me read a pretty good chunk of the beginning – great beginning. 😉 3. Then I saw the price. Excellent, I am not paying a lot for an electronic book. I buy all my books for download from Baen for a pretty modest fee and have for years. I am an older guy but I still really like Young Adult fantasy and SciFi but do not want to read YA romance. Yet I wanted to keep reading your story. So I pushed the buy button and (4) instantly had the book on my Kindle. Have had a few moments to read more and it is still really good. (I honestly have to tell you I am still afraid it is going to turn into a “chick flic” story, but it is so good up to now I am hopeful) So there you have it. Ease of approach, ease of quick preview, a fair price, ease of purchase. I really, really wish you the best and hope the new world order is fairer to writers. PS Have you ever read some of the things Charles Dickens had to say about Publishers? The more things change the more they stay the same. Curt on Cape Cod

  42. avatar
    Ray Eubanks says:

    Wonderful post. I loved it so much that I downloaded a copy of Flat-Out Love for my Kindle. If the book is as good as your blog post, I look forward to many years of reading your novels, (as you have time to write them of course).

    Thank you for standing up to the big publishing houses. I’m thoroughly disgusted with the way they treat authors and their unrealistic and predatory pricing practices for ebooks. They seem to be doing everything they can to destroy the epublishing business. You’d think that they would be smart enough to look at what happened to the music business, and how the record companies had to come to terns with digital format music.

    I’m going to forward the link to your blog post to a number of my friends, some authors, some avid readers. I think they’ll all find it s fascinating as I do.

  43. avatar
    R.M. Prioleau says:

    This was an amazing read. As a reader, I see so much of the same stuff on the shelves that the Big 6 (and other NY publishers) churn out. The YA paranormal thing is overly saturated. Even the book covers all look similar when I go to these stores! There really is no variety at all. When you read some of these books you can tell that the author was on a time-crunch and just churned out junk. There are so many indie authors out there who have put so much time and care into their work and do not get recognized for it. It’s unfair, but hopefully that will change one day.

    Hollywood has run out of ideas for movies, so they are turning to books. They can easily make a good and original movie from many of these books written by indie authors, but instead, many of them like to stay with mainstream authors, even if it’s horrible. But they are in the mentality that ‘if it has a Big 6 label on it, then it must be high quality.’ Don’t get me wrong. There are many Big 6 books out there that are good, but there are so many more that are not, and yet, they are the first to get movie rights.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your post. If you want something done, you have to do it yourself. I would love to be picked up by the Big 6 just for the distribution and exposure aspect. There’s no greater feeling than walking at a Barnes & Noble anywhere in the country and seeing your book on the shelf. But in order to have that, you’d also have to sign on the dotted line and agree to their poor business model, which I will not do. I like the freedom of writing what I want, when I want. I hope that in these coming months and years that big publishers will change their ways. People say that traditional publishing is a dying phase. But it’s the traditional publishers who are shooting themselves in the foot. Authors are hard-working people and deserve much more than what traditional publishers give them.

    As an indie author, I thank you for being such a powerful and inspiring voice to the writing community. More indie authors need to come together with this sort of attitude and not sell themselves short. For now, I’m sticking to self-publishing and maybe one day the traditional publishing industry will change for the better.

  44. avatar
    Angela Crystal says:

    Thank you so much Jessica. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I too am a writer of a Christian Non-fiction book. I attempted to go the traditional route contacting a million agents begging them to take a chance on my book, sending out excerpts of it. Upon glancing at my inquiry letter one of the “best” christian literary agents told me, “Christians don’t want to read a book like this.” I was so upset with myself for actually letting her ignorance affect me to the point that I stopped writing.

    When i attempted to go directly to Christian publishing houses they had so many restrictions about what i could and could not say in my book that it cheapened my work. I will never go through that again. I will definately be using Amazon for all my self publishing needs.

    I have struggled with the question of being “good enough” and you have reignited my passion for what I do.

  45. avatar
    David Perry says:

    Thank you for such an inspirational article. I am working on two novels and have been turned down over 50 times by publishing agents and I have thought about self-publishing off and on. You have made me see the light and i am going to take the plunge and start working that area. Thank you!!

  46. avatar
    Marc Abrams says:

    I enjoyed reading this post and agree with much of what the writer had to say (especially her point that publishers often get it wrong in guessing what readers will like and not like), but I also feel that she left out some important points in favor of traditional publishing. I write history and just had my first book published about the Sioux War of 1876 through a traditional publisher. Before this book, I self-published. The fact of the matter is, when I was self-publishing I was my own editor and proof-reader… never the best choice. And although I created some nice covers, this time around the cover created by a professional cover-designer was nicer (and more polished) than what I would have come up with on my own. I believe that my new book, despite being a history book, has the ability to appeal to many general readers, too — if marketed properly. In fact, I wrote it to be interesting to both general readers and history fanatics. But I wonder, with so many books being published, both traditionally and through self-publishing, and on so many topics, just how readers can find all the books that may be of interest to him/her. Jessica Park got lucky that she was singled out by Amazon. When I went to Amazon this morning to check if there were any reviews for my book, I was surprised to see their home page dedicated to Jessica. So the same way that publishers push certain writers, Amazon has the power to do the same. Of course, we all wish it could be us. With so many writers, it is obvious that only a few will make a living at it. If I could earn a living doing historical research and writing, you can bet I’d sign up in a minute. In closing, there are pros and cons to both traditional publishing and self-publishing; greater marketing and professional assistance polishing your book in the former and greater freedom to create and hopefully greater profits in the latter (but also hard to get into most bookstores). I wish there was a happy in-between and expect that day is coming, but how soon is hard to tell.

  47. avatar
    Diane Capri says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey, Jessica. I, too, was a trad pubbed author and after many twists and turns in the road, am now an indie. I have to say that no trad experience I ever had, or my friends have had (save for some of the folks I know who sell high up in the stratosphere in the trad world) has been as broadly satisfying as my new indie life. The hardest thing about being an it indie so far is finding my audience. But I’ve made the indie bestseller lists a few times and ranked fairly high in the Amazon popularity lists, so my audience is growing. And you are absolutely right that hearing from readers is one of the most rewarding things about this new journey. Readers can find us more effectively now, and they’re encouraged to contact us. How terrific is that!!!???

  48. avatar
    Carla Beene says:

    Hi, your post gives me hope. My husband had a bad experience with a traditional publisher. He’s writing a 2nd book and will self publish on Amazon. I am new at this but am also preparing my book for Amazon as an ebook. Can you or anyone else tell me how to go about getting a cover design? It’s set in the 1800s so there are no photos I could purchase. I’ve looked online for illustrations but haven’t had any luck.

  49. avatar
    Fun to Write says:

    Hi Jessica. First of all, congrats for being featured on Amazon’s home page as a representative of all of us KDP indie authors. I’ve just read your amazingly honest account of why you’re currently 100% on board with the indie publisher worldview. As someone who has never been a traditionally published writer, I agree with everything you’ve said about how things have changed for authors.

    I have published using the POD model and now have gladly switched to Amazon kindle and digital publishing. I’m selling more books now because the kindle platform makes it much easier to connect with hungry readers who enjoy what I produce. I also love that I can publish anything I want under various pen names. KDP is a HUGE opportunity for any writer who truly has that dream of being a published author. I love that the READERS get to decide what they like and vote with their purchase.

    Thanks Jessica for your honest reflections about your author journey. Thank you Amazon for providing us with this great KDP platform that is changing so many lives for the better. If you desire to become a REAL published author, just do it!

    Fun to Write

  50. avatar
    Joe DiBartola says:

    Great inspiring story Jessica. You are and were not alone, Sly Stallone was rejected many, many, many times. Finally, when accepted and that he could play the part of ROCKY… the rest is history… Gary Franklin who was a film critic on Los Angeles TV at the time: advised us all – do not waste your money this movie is terrible.. The rest is still history…

  51. avatar
    Patricia Ryan says:

    Congratulations on your success, Jessica! It’s immensely gratifying to read about creative people who are out there changing the curve rather than always being behind it. And, thank you for bringing up the issue of business model. The business model of looking to see what customers are buying and then restructuring or rewriting every work that comes along so that it fits that mold throws real originality out the window. I self-published for three reasons, the first of which was that I didn’t want to publish a book about menopause that looked and sounded like every other menopause book I’d read. I wanted to publish copies that would be handy, quick-reference resources that would be kept readily accessible and become well-highlighted and dog-eared by the time they died of old age. Second, I wanted to price the for-distribution print copy as low as I could and still make a small profit. Third, when I read over and over again that you have to have an agent to make sure that your publisher actually pays you what they owe you, I couldn’t help thinking, who keeps all the agents honest? I hunted around the local print houses and self-publishing sites like lulu (this was in 2008) and it didn’t look as though I could do print copies for under $2K, or an ebook for less than $500, neither of which amounts I was able to pay. When I happened on Kindle publishing and found they would walk me through the whole Kindle publishing process and I could get it done myself at no cost, it felt as if the last barrier to my future had fallen away. Amazon hasn’t made any mistakes with me. Once last fall I thought there was something missing in my royalty check and emailed them; the next day they responded with what their data showed. I rechecked my monthly reports and found it was I who had copied the numbers down wrong. Will a traditional publisher do that for you? Yes, brick and mortar imprints have the weight of years behind them—but are there any who post your daily sales online where you can check them any time, day or night? Are there any who post your weekly and monthly stats where you can see them and download them? And what about their royalties? Are “the highest in the business” 70% of the selling price? The most important thing about amazon as a publisher is that they’re a proven, viable alternative for authors. Shouldn’t all creative people have publishing and distribution choices available to them? You want traditional, stick with traditional. You want responsiveness, accountability, availability, affordability, control and self-determination, go independent. Time is not money—it’s more important than money. You can always make more money, but you cannot (yet) make more time.

    Patricia M Ryan
    author of “First Aid For Your Menopause Emotions”

  52. avatar
    M Dwyer says:

    Your blog reads like a paid advertisement for KDP. Kindle Publishing is magic. Self-publish with them and poof! You’re a literary star.

    Amazon is offering “up to 70% royalties,” yet you can only receive that amount if you agree to price your ebook on Kindle at least 20% lower than it’s being offered anywhere else. In other words, as long as you help Amazon crush all other competitors, they’ll pay you handsomely for it. From your post, we are to believe that Amazon is only here to save the day after those big, bad traditional publishers messed everything up. Please. Amazon is in it to make money, plain and simple. Their largest profit margin is on the Kindle. If Kindle downloads cost less than other ebook formats, then voila! People buy more Kindles, and Amazon wins. That’s why they’re happy to publish anything anyone want to publish. It’s all about quantity, not quality.

    Your blog post will send hundreds of authors rushing over to Amazon to self-publish, thinking they’re going to make it big. The good news is that they won’t receive a rejection letter because Amazon doesn’t care about the content of the book. In fact, I found no mention of editing (other than typos) so if you’re so inclined, you can self-publish an ebook without another human being ever having laid eyes on it.

    But how will their books get noticed among the hundreds of thousands of others? You make no mention of how you managed to get your book featured on the site, and you certainly don’t address the reality that the vast majority of self-publishers will never get that lucky break. While they’re pricing their books at $.99, hoping it will draw readers to take a chance on them, Amazon is raking in the money from thousands of other hopefuls who will remain anonymous just like them.

    If their publishing model is so much better than traditional publishers, then why are we not hearing from hundreds of other self-publishers singing their praises? Probably because they’re too busy working their day jobs.

    • avatar
      Jessica Park says:

      I never said that self-publishing guarantees success. I wrote a good, strong book, and I worked my tail off to market it to readers. And there is always an element of luck. There are also no guarantees when you write for a traditional publisher, but I am guaranteed to make a fair royalty when I do things my way. Not every author succeeds, period.

      Of course Amazon wants to make money. I’d like to make money, too, and I can’t do that with a traditional publisher.

    • avatar
      R.W. Peake says:

      Sorry M. Dwyer, but Jessica is spot-on. Of course there are strings attached; you sound very bitter about that fact, which leads me to believe there is a personal element involved in your vitriol. The one component of Jessica’s article that seems you might have missed or skimmed over concerns what is the ultimate, salient fact: The work has to be of a sufficient quality that it attracts readers.

      While my numbers don’t approach Jessica’s, I knew that my book, while on an entirely different subject and aimed at an entirely different audience, was “good, strong, work.” My problem was that the genre in which I write, Ancient Rome, isn’t “big enough” here in the U.S., and as testament to that I am one of perhaps a half-dozen American writers in the genre, compared to twice that many in the U.K. So I made the decision to strike out on my own, with my original goal to try and build my brand, as it were, to a point where I attracted the attention of an agent/publisher. However, the more I learn and thanks to Jessica’s affirmation, I am determined to do things my way, and it seems to be paying off. My book, my first book, with minuscule marketing behind it, has been in the top 3 in its category in both the U.K. and the U.S. for the last few weeks, and the sales are increasing exponentially. It’s been out since April 4th, and right now every morning is like Christmas as I watch the numbers exploding.

      Ultimately, though, it’s up to the reader to decide, and like Jessica, my gut instinct that my book was good has been borne out, in the form of 17 all 5 star reviews. So it doesn’t really matter what kind of deal Amazon has with their authors, or how much money they’re making; if the work is a piece of crap, you’re going to make 70% of the accrued sales from your mom, siblings and grandparents. Hence the fact that are some 670,000+ titles out there that readers have to wade through to find something worthy to read. I liken it to panning for gold in a sewer, but there are gold nuggets out there.

      Personally what I would like to see is more authors vetting their work through someone other than their family, best friends or significant others, all of whom have a vested interest in that writer’s success. Otherwise, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with what Amazon is doing. And yeah, they’re making money, because they’re providing a service that is obviously much needed, or it wouldn’t be so popular. We’re not mindless robots being controlled by Amazon, contrary to what you might think. Nothing in life is free, and Amazon is no different in that respect.

      I happen to like the terms a lot better.

      R.W. Peake
      Author of Marching With Caesar-Conquest of Gaul

    • avatar
      Lily says:

      From a reader.. not an author…

      Of course Amazon is there to make money, it isn’t a charity. It’s a company. Capitalism. Look it up. And as far as your comment goes about “people buying more Kindles..” you may want to check your facts a little.. Amazon offers the app for FREE on your phone (no problem with the type of phone either), your IPAD and your PC/laptop/mac, whatever. I have the app on all of them and I don’t own a Kindle. I did buy one for my mother and guess what? We can both read the same books. Two people reading the same e-book at the same time!! Yea. I sync her Kindle and my phone, Ipad and PC with any book we agree to buy and I can read anywhere I like on any device I like. And she can take her Kindle to chemo.

      Look at the price of a Penguin book.. $12.99 when the freaking hardcopy is $9.99 or the same price as the e-book $12.99. Jessica is right, it is a bad business model that has not evovled with the electronic world.

      No, not everyone will be a success with self-publishing, but readers will get to decide what they like and what they support and it not be censored or filtered by some publishing corporation in the middle. Amazon is hosting these books and allowing the readers and authors to connect. If the book is good and the author is marketing, it will get support from that fan base. If either or both do not apply, it won’t. It’s pretty simple but fairly strong. And it’s lean. It’s a wonderful lean model of business.

      I support self-publishers and will not buy a book from a major publishing house until I can get it second or third hand if I still want to read it. I have more enjoyment in reading these self-published books. No, some are horrible, some are eh, and but the gems are brilliant. And I don’t mind going through that cycle because at least I don’t have to worry about knowing the plot line of the next James Patterson book before his ghost writers even sit down to write it.

      You rock Jessica.. and all of you self-publishing authors. You keep doing, I’ll keep reading! On all four devices. And thank you Amazon.

        • avatar
          Lily says:

          Never said they did not. But they need a new business model. Like yesterday if they want to survive in the internet world. Just like the music industry had to adapt.. so do they.

  53. avatar
    Stuart says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Good story 🙂

    Can you share what happened to the sales of your kindle book when Amazon chose to feature it bang in the middle of their home page on the 18th June 2012?

    Wow! That must have been a total goosebump moment when the sales started flooding in!

    Be interested to hear about your approach to getting bloggers to review your book.

    • avatar
      Jessica Park says:

      It’s blowing up my sales, as any Amazon feature will do.

      When I released the book, I stalked Twitter for YA bloggers and offered e-copies to anyone who would take them. I did every blog, interview, etc. that I could get, and really just did what I could to generate word of mouth. It was a slow build, but after a few months, I was making good sales on my own, without any features from Amazon. Hard work can pay off sometimes.

  54. avatar
    Sara E. James says:

    Jessica, I adored Flat-Out Love. Just to mess with publishers’ ideas of marketing even more, I’m 32 and routinely read YA novels, much more often than so-called adult novels. I read a sample of your book on my Kindle, loved it, and had no qualms about snatching it up for $3.99 even though I’d never heard of you. I could not wait to find out what happened next. I read the book months ago, told friends about it, and it is still sticking with me. I loved the characters so much, they were so real, that I was sad when I finished. I would love to read more about them. This blog post has also brought tears to my eyes, tears of hope, because I long to be a published author and the rise of ebooks, and especially Amazon’s publishing avenue, makes that so much more likely to happen for me. I’d still love to work with a traditional publisher (or so I think at this point) but if none of them want to work with me, I still have options. I don’t have a huge ego but I know that my stories are worthwhile and I believe in them. You and other independent authors prove that an author can stand behind her own work and do well.

  55. avatar
    J. L. Fleckenstein says:

    What a great story to share, and I love how directly you communicated it. This is just like the golden age of pulp publishing — writers at that time as well suddenly had an outlet for bringing their stories directly to readers and bypassing the very publishing industry you describe to aptly here.

    I’m so happy for you and for all of the other indie authors who have struck out on their own and are finding success and getting the opportunity really speak heart to heart with readers and fans through their books and stories.

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story, and best wishes for many continued successes into the future.

    Warmest wishes,
    J. L. Fleckenstein

  56. avatar
    VV says:

    The problem with the traditional publishing system is not that it should be thrown out, but updated. When a system has been in use for many years, it is very difficult to change. Consider this illustration of how Green Berets are trained when taking into account the advancement of technology in warfare over the last 50 years. Some would say the extremities of Green Beret training are outdated by current standards of warfare, just like the extremities of ancient armies is outdated by our current standards.

    In short, what is trained and used for long periods of time must be broken down entirely and retrained in order for best working. The feud between Amazon and Trad publishing over the last few years is a good example of Old vs New, like a father who holds a son to a standard, when that son seeks his own ends. In the end, the father either comprises or doesn’t.

    Your own story reflects the difficulty many have with traditional publishing, yet it also doesn’t address the risks associated with the self-publishing and online publishing route. Traditional publishing has control systems, and yet while there are things that probably shouldn’t be published in that system, consider the comparison to the expansive amount of writers who’ve used Amazon without a trained editor that focuses on only a select group of authors in a circle, or grasp on how language works.

    Traditional publishing works only if 1) you are incredibly fortunate, 2) have a following of some sort already, 3) thoroughly research the publishing industry, agenting process, agents, and publishing houses, which is more work than most new authors realize, or wish to do. A writer must know how to think like an agent and an editor, which is exceedingly difficult due to the poor amount of literature on that subject (I only know of one agent who wrote a book on it, that being Noah Lukeman).

    Self-Publishing/PoD works if you are extremely dedicated, like #3 above. Amazon has only made this process easier, along with other groups such as Lulu and Smashwords. Its downside is often the lack of a major publisher’s resources.

    Sometimes, in the end, even with traditional publishing and your reference to the author having to do everything when not a big name, it is better to do things yourself. Some publishers may feel a new author has to prove themselves, or it could be that they want the author to take their own route in marketing. Or perhaps both. As for writers saying the publisher is putting standards on their subject matter, such as the character age issue and believability issue in regards to a previous commenter–perhaps it is the execution of that story that is in error.

  57. avatar
    Leigh Moore says:

    Great post, Jessica!

    I’ve got a number of friends who’ve decided to self-publish, and they’re doing well with it. They’ve set goals, they’re meeting their goals, and they’re writing what they want on their own schedule. My biggest reservation is the moderate sales numbers they’re seeing and the huge amount of work they’re investing in marketing and promotion.

    Even Amanda Hocking compared it to three full-time jobs.

    I’m super-glad you’re doing great, and I’m thankful Amazon is giving us choices and hopefully sparking change in the way publishers approach the process. Still, you have to confess, your results are not typical.

    I’ve got one book with a Big 6 due out in December, but I’m watching what’s happening here with much interest as I decide what to do with my next.

    Here’s wishing you all the best of (continued) success with your books.

  58. avatar
    C. Nesta says:

    What I really enjoyed in your blog post was the flat out honesty. Amazon seems to be making a dent in the dishonesty of the good old boys’ publishing club, and it is about time. I also liked that you wrote what you wanted to, didn’t follow the publishing houses’ rules, MFA rules, writing-that-sells ‘rules’. As you say, yours is “book that ignored all the industry rules”. I can relate. A few years back I sat down and wrote a story that had been in the back of my mind for ages…a sociopath as narrator tells her predicament in first person. Everyone who read the story said, ‘ah , but you need a happy ending, she needs to change for the better, realize the evil of her ways, etc, etc’ Problem was, sociopaths don’t change..they just keep ruining others’ lives. So, I sighed and filed the story away. Then, just a month or so ago, decided to self-publish on Amazon. The feeling of freedom is exhilarating and, cherry -on- top, I’ve actually sold a few. Thank you, Amazon , and all the indie authors who took the leap, were glad, and wrote about it.

  59. avatar
    Bob Fairbairn says:

    I have been reading about Amazon Kindle delivery fees. Are you willing to discuss the whole cost model. Is it really 70×30 or are there “hidden costs”?

  60. avatar
    Terry t-man-sam says:

    Sold! Thanks’ Jessica!
    I am buying and loading your book after work today.
    I really enjoyed your story and insight and am so impressed with your group the Cancer warriors. Kudos! and I will look up and follow your fellow authors in the group.
    I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the Publishing Industry. I appreciate your courage in calling them out!

    I thought I would never be an e-reader, but 2 years ago I received a Kindle as a gift. This has been the greatest revelation to me since e-mail.
    I now read everywhere constantly in all downtime periods. I have discovered so many wonderful authors (John Rector, Danny King, CE Grundler, Ben Lieberman, Frank Wheelr, Ed Lacy) and have read more in the past 2 years than I did in the previous 15. This has been a great joy.
    As well, I have not been in a library or bookstore in this time and I am proud of that. Thanks Kindle!! This is the future.

    In no way do I miss the tactile pleasure of books. In fact I cringe when any new books are brought into the house! We have no room and are overloaded with books we can’t give away.

    Thanks again Jessica for your insight, talent and courage. I look forward to reading you and following your career!

  61. avatar
    Joan Compton says:

    You have no idea how much encouragement your story just gave me. I have one completed book and three others in the “works”, and have been turned down so many times by publishers. After pouring my heart and soul into the first one, and getting turned down so many times, my desire to write waned. It has rejuvenated itself lately, and your story poured fuel onto that fire. THANK YOU and GOD BLESS.

    Joan Compton

  62. avatar
    Rachelle Ayala (@AyalaRachelle) says:

    EGGS-ACTLLLY!!! Write from your heart–edgier, darker, funnier. Now that you’re famous they’ll beat their way to your door but then beat you into submission with their genre guidelines. Sorry, ahem, you’re not allowed any swear words. YA 18-24 having sex in a college dorm, uhm… no way!

    And forget about breaking the rules. You must have the villain before 10%, you must have the first kiss by 20%, you must not have sex until two aborted attempts, misunderstand must occur at 75% and airport scene at 90%. No epilogue with maternity ward scene, etc., etc., etc.

    Jessica, i’m glad you broke out! You sound so much happier. Congrats on making Amazon first page with Jeff Bezo’s personal recommendation for your book. Buying it now!

  63. avatar
    Natalie says:

    I love this post. I’m 26 years old and I truly feel there are not enough books out there on the 18-25 year old. It is hard to find books I can relate too. I’m so excited to read your book!

  64. avatar
    Reggie Giles says:

    This is wonderfully encouraging and just freakin’ makes me happy.

    I would recommend this guy’s book as the perfect complement to this article.

    There is a link to the free PDF version of the book on that page and it is well worth the read…lots of resources, etc.

    Best of luck!
    Reggie Giles

  65. avatar
    Sonya Rose says:

    Excellent article! I had never heard of you before or your book but… again… because of Amazon I know about you and your struggles and how successful you have made yourself by realizing your potential and ability to walk away from what is deemed “traditional” or “the correct way” to do things. I love it! I’m going to purchase your book just BECAUSE you stood up for yourself and your dreams. Well.. also because the book sounds pretty cool. =) I look forward to hearing more from you and about you! *~Best Wishes!~*

  66. avatar
    Ben Campbell says:

    Hey Jessica, Excellent topic. I’ve been publishing with amazon since 2010, and also using smashwords as an accessory distribution platform to Apple iBookstore, Sony Reader, B&N nook and others. Receiving daily sales reports and automatic revenue deposits into my Paypal and checking accounts is such a great force. Thanks for this post, not everyone is rewarded financially with Indy publishing but at least they can see their work on-line or in print.

    Ben Campbell
    author of the trilogy Dubrovnik, “Vitruvian Man” and Regeneration.

  67. avatar
    Susan Tordella says:

    I, too, am self-published – author of “Raising Able” and had to find the confidence and throw away the self-doubt.

    The publishing industry is changing fast, like the music and photo industries changed in the last decade. No longer do we have to obtain the reluctant approval from a small group of publishing snobs who used to hold the keys to the publishing kingdom over whether to grant us the right to publish our books and profit from writers.

    THANK YOU AMAZON. I get a check every month and I love being an author. The more I promote the book, the more I sell and profit.

  68. avatar
    Vivek Shivaprabhu says:

    This is a technical issue: The ‘Like’ button on this page is pointing to the wrong article. Please fix. Thank you!

  69. avatar
    Sydney H. says:

    That is such an inspiring story, Jessica! I’ve always been a bit scared off of self-publishing because I heard it’s so much time and work to do your own promotion of your book, but it sounds from your story like you have to do all of that anyway, even if you go the traditionally published route. In that case, yeah, totally–why NOT get paid a ton more in royalties, since you have to do all that promotion yourself anyway?

    I agree that Amazon has such a big reader basis and so many neat ways to get your books exposure that it seems a writer has a chance to get their stuff out there in the commercial world, as opposed to just the blogosphere. I’d love to hear what kinds of promotions, etc, you used to promote your books.

  70. avatar
    Ashli says:

    I know how you feel! Trying to get my book published was one of the hardest things in my life!
    And frankly, still trying to get it out there for people to read is incredibly hard, and unless I want to pay loads of money, I’m having to do it by myself… and being from a small town it’s a lot harder to do than you would think. ha!
    This story was incredible and I look up to you for this, you’re amazing for putting this out here for others in your shoes to read and feel that there is hope for us all.
    Thank you! 🙂

    author of Keeping The Gleam

  71. avatar
    Jessica Park says:

    I’m reading all these posts and can’t keep up! Thank you, thank you for the amazing support and for sharing your stories here. So happy to be able to inspire or encourage anyone who is navigating the publishing world.

  72. avatar
    J Peters says:

    This was a truly inspiring post. So nice to see the articulated passion of a modern day David (Jessica) versus the publishing Goliaths.

  73. avatar
    Danielle Bannister says:

    You have no idea how much I needed to read this book. I just had an awful encounter with a book store owner who read me the riot act for not having a ‘publisher’ that he could deal with. Made me second guess my choice to self-publish. Now I fee so much more confident in the path I’m taking (especially since MY book deals with a college freshman and has a hing of supernatural!) egads!

    • avatar
      Jessica Park says:

      I feel for bookstore owners. I’ve been accused plenty of hating indie bookstores, and that’s simply not true. I wish that things were different, but business models are changing and those stores are really struggling. Indie stores CAN order and sell your book through expanded distribution via Create Space, but many won’t do it because there are no returns. Very frustrating for all.

      • avatar
        Amy Edelman says:

        Actually, we here at IndieReader have been working with indie bookstores to find a way to make it easier for them to carry indie books. As an author myself I know that there’s nothing like seeing your book on a bookstore shelf.

  74. avatar
    Zazie says:

    What an excellent article!

    However, please tell me if this is true: You were previously published by a known house–that validated your ability as a story teller making it easier for you to self-publish and sell e-books. (Your e-book even went through the hands of multiple professionals.)

    How can your experience possibly apply to me, someone who would self-publish a first novel? I can’t use my “stamp of approval’ from a past life in promoting my book.

    • avatar
      Jessica Park says:

      The books that I wrote for a traditional publisher were ENTIRELY different. I had virtually no carryover audience and essentially started on my own with YA. Plenty of successful indie authors never had a publisher. Colleen Hoover is a good example. Both of her books are killing it in the Kindle charts, and she virtually came out of nowhere. Tammara Webber is another one.

      • avatar
        Zazie says:

        Thank you! That’s encouraging. I wish you the best of success for Flat-Out Love, (and continued sales of Relatively Famous).

  75. avatar
    Carole Wolf says:

    Bravo!! I wish I could post sound effects; I’d have a stadium crowd roaring in honor of all you’ve said here, Amy. I, too, chose the self-publishing route via Amazon, and I totally agree that we, as authors, write for our readers. Our works are our gifts to them, to entertain and to inspire. That’s what’s most important. Great story!

    Carole Wolf

  76. avatar
    Gin Price says:

    Wow! You couldn’t wipe the smile from my face right now. I’ve had two agents…TWO and in the past three-four years the only books I’ve sold have been to small digital publishers. I poked at self publishing with my romance and erotic career, and thought with YA being trendy right now, maybe I could try traditional publishing again.

    Like you, Jessica, I received so many ridiculous rejections to the horror of myself and my wonderful agent, that over time, I stopped getting upset and started getting ticked off. I didn’t write paranormal, my heroine didn’t hate her parents like all kids should, my unique spin on a tried and true star-crossed lovers story was too niche. WHAT??

    I took my story to a small digital publisher and they couldn’t sign me fast enough. I have two more stories in the works, and though my small pub has been great, I think it’s time I earn what I’m owed and have the courage to shake off the self-publish naysayers.

    Thanks to your inspirational post, I’m going to work on the books I want to see sporting my name, and launch them into the world when I want! Not standing in a line of debut authors for over a year while well-known writers get the fast pass. The best promotion an author can have is a long list of books, and that’s just not going to happen while elbowing others for a spot on the last train chuggin’.

    Now that you’ve reminded me why I chose to self publish in the first place, I feel the pounds I’ve accumulated again on my shoulders sliding off.

    Best of luck to you…and to all others who fight for their literary independence.

    Gin Price

  77. avatar
    Brittany Weddle says:

    I found the article to be a greate sorce of insipration for me and hopefully for all indie authors out there.

  78. avatar
    John Podlaski says:

    Thank you Jessica, brilliant article. I first wrote, Cherries – A Vietnam War Novel in the early 80’s and shopped it around to various publishers for over a year. Without dating myself, back then, my manuscript was typed on an electronic typewriter with carbon paper. Correcting errors and further editing forced me to retype entire chapters to maintain proper formatting, etc. I was lucky to have an employer who allowed me to use their copy machine as long as I paid for the paper. Finding publishers required me to spend time in the library and then follow up with telephone calls to verify addresses, and if I was lucky enough, to get an editor’s name. Once a cover letter was prepared, I took copies of the book summary and three sample chapters – boxed it all up and ran the packages over to the post office. Some editors responded in kind, offering criticism and suggestions, however, most were not interested unless I used an agent in this process. They also informed me that books about the Vietnam War were not popular and would not sell. Vanity publishers finally got my address and came out of the woodwork, offering to sell me wonderful packages to print and help sell my great book – average cost was about $10k at that time. I was disappointed and soon discovered that writing was too expensive for me. I packaged everything up and moved it to my garage.

    Twenty five years later, at my high school reunion, I was “strongly encouraged” by friends to finish and publish my story. I had forgotten that I left a copy of my manuscript with them to pass around a quarter of a century earlier. Prior to my giving up all those years ago, I did find an editor who agreed to publish my book if I reworked it from first person to a third person format. I was half finished when I quit.

    What a difference twenty-five years made! In 2009, when I took on the challenge to complete and self-publish my story, computers, word processors, printers, email, the internet et al made the work much easier. Nine months later, Cherries – A Vietnam War Novel was born in both e-book and 6X9 soft cover format. The book has done well during the last two years, but I have to believe it is only so because of my constant marketing efforts (minimum of two hours a day). Geez, writing is much easier!

    This past spring, I spent time researching audio books and soon decided that Cherries would be a good candidate. However, I soon learned that I was a better writer than a “performer”. As a result, I contracted out the work and my audio book went live last week on Amazon, I-Tunes and

    The point of my lengthy response is to show how the times have changed. An author has so much flexibility today with opportunities everywhere. There is a drawback to self-publishing – none of the brick and mortar houses will stock your book. However, once published on Amazon and others, your books can be ordered by readers at those book sellers over the internet.

    It is quite clear from all the above comments that a writer must promote themselves and their work at every opportunity – it results in sales whether you have backing from a large company or are an individual with a self-published story to tell. Just remember, the rewards will match the efforts…

  79. avatar
    Matthew Simpson says:

    Thank you Jessica, I really loved reading this post. When I finish my manuscript this year I think I will go straight into self publishing. I already know the marketing side of the book business and it’d probably be more effective if I did it myself anyway. I’ve always wanted to do a fancy book tour, but like you said, you need to be an established veteran before publishers even think of doing a tour. Thank you again!

  80. avatar
    Terri Bruce says:

    Thank you, what a great article! I shopped my novel for 8 months and received rejection after rejection – one agent said to me there was no market for my novel, which features a thirty-six-year-old MC and a fourteen-year-old MC, because “teens don’t like to read about adults and adults don’t like to read about teens” (!!!!! er right, because no adults read Harry Potter – O.o !!!!!!). Well an indie publisher is taking a chance on my novel and we’ll find out starting August 1st who was right.

  81. avatar
    Wayne Horne Jr says:

    Hi Jessica,

    I am J. R. Niles, author of the self published endeavor, “Internet Dating.” While indie authors can certainly go through their “ups – & – downs” your posting has brought new life to my heart in the tough business of writing. I will definitely be looking more into what Amazon has to offer for my future writing endeavors. Thank you so much for taking the time to enlighten us as you have. God bless you!

    J. R. Niles

  82. avatar
    J. Lee says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s been a challenge to publish anything and I wondered about self-publishing. I have a question: do you (or anyone else) have any suggestions for what to do about artwork for self-publishing. Are there sites that help with creating artwork for books that you could recommend? I’m not sure how this all works in self-publishing. Thanks!

    • avatar
      John Podlaski says:


      An e-book simply uses a JPEG picture to post on the site. However, printed books require a different format (front cover, spline and back cover). I can recommend, for either versions. Additionally, offers a list of people and pricing to choose from.

      • avatar
        J. Lee says:

        Thanks John, I was thinking about how to contract someone out who could do cover artwork. I just checked out digitaldonna, but for some reason, the website was not functional.

    • avatar
      Matt Kuhns says:

      I could help you design your book. I’ve been designing book covers for about six years now, and every time I read something like this I kind of “gulp” and wonder how I can diversify beyond publishing-industry clients. (Wouldn’t you?)

  83. avatar
    Brigid says:

    This article was extremely inspirational for me, and I’m very glad to have stumbled upon it from the main Amazon website. I have two completed books just sitting on my hard-drive, books that I would love to see published, but I wasn’t sure whether or not to go with traditional publishing or self-publishing. I’ve heard so much about both, good and bad. Now, however, I know what I’m going to do. Thank you very much, Jessica!!

  84. avatar
    Renee Porter says:

    There are not enough ways to say “Thank You” for your blog post and for Amazon’s incredible response to it, as well as the encouraging comments posted here.

    I am the author of four novels (soon to be five) and I am published by a very small indie press, but the constant barrage of comments about indie writers on some writing boards and even the Amazon boards were beginning to discourage me. It was disheartening to read the comments labeling those of us who are independents with every pejorative possible. Although I watched my last novel rise to number 20 last month on the Mystery/Thriller list, I read those comments and anguished over ever being accepted as a “real” author. When I saw threads calling for “filters” to cull the indie and KDP titles from Amazon’s search, when I read one comment where the poster actually used the word “exterminate” in a post about indie authors, I was at a loss. I was afraid that Amazon might seriously listen to the vehement posts and my career would be over.

    Now that I see that I am not alone and I have to wonder whatever made me think I wasn’t an author when I had sold so many books and had people writing to ask me when my next title would be out?

    You’re right. It does hurt. But every time I think about those remarks, I’m going say the name “Walt Whitman” – one of America’s greatest poets and a self published, independent author.

    Thank you so very, very much.

    I am an author.

  85. avatar
    Toni Dwiggins says:

    What??? You wrote the book you wanted, the book readers love, and you’re getting a great royalty and real-time sales reporting?

    What is this magic kingdom whereof you speak?

    Oh yeah, Amazon 😉

    My agent tried to sell my hybrid forensic geology/eco-thriller to the Big Six, who said nice things and then ‘go away.’ Then I found KDP and got what I really wanted all along: readers.

  86. avatar
    Rebecca Burke says:

    Thanks for coming out swinging on behalf of indie authors who have had enough. I look forward to reading your latest book, Jessica.

    Your story was all-too-familiar. For two of my agent-repped YA novels, the vast majority of rejections were also positive, even raves. Yet there was always something editors would mention to get them off the hook (why didn’t they just say “we don’t think this will sell in big enough numbers to make it worth our while”?). More than once, my last novel was dismissed for being set in the 1990s. Apparently that is another taboo for YA fiction. More than one editor complained that this meant the book didn’t fall into a neat category, being neither historical nor contemporary.

    After going the rounds of NYC publishers, I could have spent another 2-3 years trying to entice a small publisher to take my last work. Or–screw it–self-publish!

    What the hell, I’m getting older every day. Best decision ever.

    And just last week, When I Am Singing to You won best ebook for YA fiction (Spanish/English) in the 2012 Int’l. Latino Book Awards. I was floored: finally some recognition for my fiction. I’d begun to give up and channel my creativity into other avenues…it seemed like the most mentally healthy thing to do!

    Good luck out there to all the other indie authors. Everyone has different measures of success–books sold, reviews, fans, personal satisfaction–and now you are free to pursue that without being roadblocked by others. Viva la revolucion!

  87. avatar
    Eleni Papanou says:

    “I don’t want to write for them. I want to write for you. The other undeniable truth is that readers could care less that my books aren’t put out by a big publisher. They read for the content, not the publishing house emblem.”

    Well said. This is why I opted out of writing even one query letter and chose to self publish.

  88. avatar
    Julianna says:

    Any chance we could see some posts that DON’T make those of us who are still pursuing trade publishing look like the biggest idiots on the planet? Just a thought.

    • avatar
      Sandy N says:

      I have 2 questions about this comment:

      1. You *do* realize that you are on a site dedicated to indie, not trad, publishing, correct? Therefore the articles will be geared toward indie authors and publishing?

      2. Is there a reason that the author shouldn’t be honest about her experiences and opinions in her own article?

  89. avatar
    Saul Tanpepper says:

    More than anything I’ve read to-date on the subject of trad-turned-self-pubbed writer, this one nails it perfectly. Thank you for putting it all so concisely and exhaustively, Jessica. Best of luck!

  90. avatar
    EmmaK says:

    What an inspirational post!! I’m like you, my book Confessions of a Cake Addict was rejected by NY editors for ‘British characters are not selling that well at the mo’ and other silly excuses and is now self published and I’m lovin my success.

  91. avatar
    Delilah says:

    Excellent post Jessica.

    Thank heavens for places like Amazon, because the irony that you were told Flat Out Love wasn’t good enough, when I see it listed on many bloggers top choices month after month is just desserts indeed.
    Kudos to you and other self published author’s who are showing the big publishing houses and readers that being self published can mean really amazing books.
    It benefits everyone (who matters) the authors get to publish their books and get paid more than a pittance for them. The readers get to read some amazing books and not pay through the a$$ for them just because there’s some fancy publishers name on the binding. (which if you’re reading e-books means even less) and indie writers/publishing gets the “huzzah factor” of an awesome book being self published thereby encouraging new readers to further explore the indie world AND more good writers to view it as a viable option to the big stinking Goliath’s to publish their work.
    I’m sure many a writer who’s been rejected numerous times and started to wonder if maybe they aren’t that good, may decide to take a chance on self publishing and we may all be richer for it.

    And to the few who have asked “how she did this” You wanna know how her book took off? got featured?
    It’s good, like really really excellent.
    And as readers, when we find a really good book, we tell other people how super awesome the book is. We review it, we feature it in our blogs, we tweet about it, add it to a facebook update, buy it for a friend..WE SHARE.
    (and it works both ways, if a books a stinker, we’ll share that info too)

    THAT is how she did it. She wrote a really amazing awesome book and then told everyone she could think of about it, and encouraged them to share if they liked it.

  92. avatar
    Roger Weston says:

    Jessica, Thanks for sharing your story. I like where you say that you are writing the book that you want to write now. I write thrillers that do not have swearing and sex, but plenty of action. I couldn’t agree with you more that the freedom we now have to write the stories we are passionate about only increases our collective creativity. Amazing times we live in!

  93. avatar
    Elle Casey says:

    What a wonderful testament to your hard work and the things that all writers are going through these days. Good for you! I agree that the best feeling in the world is reader love. 🙂

  94. avatar
    Ken says:

    Thank you so very much for writing about this wonderful subject
    . It’s about time someone opened up and said what was on their
    Mind… Keep on writing.

  95. avatar
    Shawn Inmon says:

    Thank you for this blog posting. It highlights how things have changed.

    I started writing my book in 2007. Writing part-time, it took me until this year to finish it.

    When I first started writing it, I spent all my time researching how to do a query letter seeking an agent so I would have a legitimate shot at getting it published.

    By this year, when I finished it, I had completely forgotten about NY and The Big SIx Publishers. I never even thought of querying an agent. Instead, I’ve spent my time working with an artist to create an eye-catching cover, an editor to fix the things I can’t see because I’m too close to the work, a proofreader for the same reason, and a layout artist to make sure my book looks perfect on the Kindle.

    It’s wonderful to be writing in a time when the gatekeepers have lost their position and we can publish what we want and let the readers decide if we like it.

    • avatar
      Aliena says:

      I’m just now editing my second book and I am attempting to figure out how to put it on Amazon. It looks really complicated, can you tell me how to find a layout artist? Or where you found a good editor? I’m pretty new to this ebook publishing business and I can use all the help I can get. At least I found a fantastic cover artist.
      Thanks so much!

      • avatar
        Daniel Chambliss says:

        Hi Aliena,

        It just so happens I know someone who can do the layouts for you. Contact me at my e-mail address and I’ll put you in touch.


      • avatar
        Shawn Inmon says:

        Hi, Aliena,

        A great resource for me has been There are a lot of self published (not to mention some traditionally published) authors who hang out there and talk about everything to do with the process of getting your book published. I really recommend checking it out.

        • avatar
          Aliena says:

          Thank you for the great link Shawn! That is exactly what I need right now. Maybe I can find the answers to all my questions in one place. What a relief.
          Thanks again,

  96. avatar
    Caren says:

    Ooh, I must check out your Rick Springfield short. Those were the days. This is a great post. I referred to it on my blog at

  97. avatar
    W.L.Richards says:

    This post is inspiring. I have just finished a book and published it on Amazon as well. It’s more along the self help category. It’s slowly gaining speed, but at least it’s published. I must also thank Amazon

  98. avatar
    Roxanne Bland says:

    I, too, had my round with NY. My book is a genre-smasher, and it seems that’s a big no-no for NY. Never mind that complete strangers (as beta readers) have found it interesting and entertaining . After so many form rejections, I decided to say the hell with it and self-publish. In fact, I decided to start my own publishing house, Blackrose Press. Sure, it’ll be a lot of work promoting my book, but then isn’t that what authors who aren’t famous do in the first place? And with the coming of the Internet, the cost is so much more reasonable. Virtual blog tours, come to mind. Yes, I plan to do all of it when my book is released. And I’m sure I’ll be a lot happier for it.

  99. avatar
    Michael says:

    Jessica inspires me to keep pushing to share stories from the heart for the sake of the reader who finds a higher
    value in the Indie spirit than in the alleged prestige of a publishers imprimatur. George Plimpton once said, “Writing
    is very hard,” and could have added…unless you’re writing what you love that comes from the heart. That is the only
    place where the good stuff comes from and now we have a golden opportunity with Amazon/CreateSpace to publish
    and share our work with “readers” who will be the final arbiter of talent and skill to sustain writers and bypassing the “Legacy” dinosaur publishing model of yesteryear. I am publishing my first book based on my experience as personal photographer to Muhammad Ali. It will be released mid July through Diversion Books who will distribute the eBook and I will self publishing the print version through CreateSpace. We will cross market promotions to bring readers to both formats and Diversion and I both feel very good about the potential for a worldwide audience. THE CHAMP – My Year With Muhammad Ali, is from the heart, stories and insights of The Greatest during my special year.
    Oh yeah, in the keep pushing yourself all writers,if you have a good story category…I was rejected by Random House in 1977 by an editor who told me, ‘These are great photos and a good story but Muhammad Ali’s books don’t sell because he’s in the papers and magazines everyday and overexposed.” She had a point at that time, he dominated the news, so I figured 35 years later maybe people would want to read my story and see my photos of this legend and world treasure. Wish me luck writers all, and keep pushing like Jessica and rumbling like Ali. The editor who rejected me was Toni Morrison, who went on to win a Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize and many awards and remains one of the most gifted writers in American history. At least I will kicked in the head by somebody really good! Keep on pushing!

  100. avatar
    Ken says:

    Great post! It seems as media distribution evolves, the need for media empires will diminish. We see it happening now and it’s exciting. We have more and more tools and resources to take our art directly to the people. This is destined to continue, but the media empires will not give up without a fight. They see their empires crumbling and are scared. There will come a day when all creative persons will be able to take their work directly to the people. They will decide how to utilize distribution channels, rather than the distribution channels deciding how to use them.

  101. avatar
    Ray says:


    Thank you for this honest and inspiring article. I’ve read a few others of a similar vein concerning eBook author success stories, and they are what keeps us budding indie authors going. You are a pioneer, and many are following in your footsteps.

    My story is that of an avid reader and writer since a young age. I have a large collection of fiction and nonfiction and have been writing stories since I was a kid as well as completing one novel to date. I have never actively pursued the traditional publishers and agents, though I’ve been buying Writer’s Market for years. I’ve also gone through many self-help books on getting published and getting an agent, and the bottom line is that the industry treats writers in such a degrading way that I’ve never felt the urge to cross the line and approach these people.

    In my view, writing fiction is really about just two things: 1. creatiing exciting, inspirational stories that your readers will love. (For me this goes back to when I was a young boy and would pick up endless science fiction and fantasy paperbacks from the library and become immersed in these incredible worlds. My motivation as a writer is to create those worlds for others to visit and enjoy.)

    2. Writing is about creative fulfillment for the author. Producing something you love, that is exactly how you want it to be, regardless of what others think who are not your “target audience” or are so called “authorities” in the “publishing industry.”

    In these regards, traditional publishing offers us essentially NOTHING in terms of fulfilling these desires. It is in fact, a clever, centuries long method of enslaving writers.

    I believe the new technology and distribution means of Amazon and Smashwords are creating a “cottage industry” framework for writers that goes back to the idea of hand crafted quality work, such as was made by individual houses during the Middle Ages – and this is combined with a method of getting exposure that allows you to make a good living from your work if you focus on quality and are not afraid to talk about what you do with others online (so called “marketing” which corporate America has made into a dirty word considering all the cheap crap that is “marketed” to us on a daily basis).

    Why do we need traditional publishers? Only one real reason remains, and I can see this being surpassed by technology in the near future. They can produce professional hard copies of novels, and get them placed on book store shelves.

    Eventually printer technology will advance to the point where you can print, bind and assemble copies of your own novels at home, cheaply and at high quality. And eventually indie bookstores will begin reaching out to indie authors to stock such books like small shops did with cottage industry producers back when quality was far more important than quantity.

    I think the novel (and to a lesser extent NF book) industry is maturing to a point where it will eventually mirror the capabilities of the modern day home chef, or gardener, or website designer. WIth modern tools and the spread of knowledge, authors will gain complete control over the content, distribution, and quality of their books both in eBook and printed format.

    Once print on demand becomes home based, what will we need traditional publishers for? Once people start buying churned out crap from traditional publishers in favor of labors of love from indie authors (albeit maybe a slow trend to take place), what will we need them for? I’ve picked up novels by the big publishing houses that were so poorly written and bland, that I’ve marveled at how they made it into print – except for the fact that there was a big name on the cover.

    Traditional large scale publishers are dinosaurs already in my opinion, and they are too stupid to realize that the meteor hit years ago and the water holes they all fight over are rapidly drying up.

    Like most authors looking at the indie approach and seeing it as the most attractive way to go, I think our motivations are the same. We all want to make a good living at writing and selling our stories, but the bottom line is, we want to deliver polished jewels of imagination to our readers, whether we sell two books or 20,000 in the process. And we want to live by sharing our visions.

    Amazon may have its flaws, but it supports this vision. Traditional publishers on the other hand more and more are like the bad tempered neighbor who keeps yelling at your kids when they are having care free fun running through the lawn sprinkler. They offer us nothing but arbitrary criticism with virtually no basis in fact, rediculous rejection rates, and a pittance of payment and iron maiden contracts when they do (reluctantly) take you on.

    Noah Lukeman was mentioned by another contributor here. In one of his books on how to get published, he mentioned something to the effect of rejecting about 20,000 manuscripts a year and accepting 2 for printing at the publisher he once worked at. Seriously, do any of us really believe that 19,998 of those manuscripts were unpublishable, unsaleable, unworthy of his “expertise” and time?

    Amazon offers us a open arena where our readers can decide. And that’s a very good thing.

    I tend to get long winded when I write. Sorry for the diatribe. Basically, I agree 100% with you and with almost everyone else’s comments here. Go Girl!

  102. avatar
    Mark Gardner says:

    This was a great article. I have been working on a manuscript off and on (mostly off) since late 2009. I recently lost my day job, and decided to get my act in gear and finish it. I still have quite a way to go, but it is nice to know I can get it out there as soon as it is finished via amazon. I am curious about tax liability when receiving royalties, but I am getting way ahead of myself. Anyway thanks for the article, it gives me yet another reason to finish my story.

  103. avatar
    @Lovinglf says:

    The last 30+ books I’ve read have all been digital Indie books. I read pretty much anything, fiction, non-fiction, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers etc.. What is different about Indie books is that the authors are pursuing ideas and themes that are anything but generic or tried and true. I’m a life long reader but recently I find myself excited about reading again. I whip out my phone and use my Kindle app every chance I get, while standing in long lines, waiting at the doctor’s office and when I take a break. The best part is that I feel that familiar exhilaration and anticipation again when searching for new books to read, just like the way I felt when I was a kid staring up at the walls of books in my local library.

    While I’m sad that bookstores are going away, because I still love the touch, feel and smell of books, it’s undeniable that the world of publishing is changing and that technology is driving the change. I do like the fact that Indie authors are making more money than they would have under traditional publishing contracts because the creators should be rewarded for bringing us so much reading pleasure.

  104. avatar
    Peter says:

    Up the revolution! The paradigm has shifted! Wonderful testimony of the shattering of the traditional publishing monster!

  105. avatar
    indy says:

    Thank you so much for the post, I’ve had writer’s block for a while now, I think it’s mostly the fear of getting rejected once my manuscript is completed, but thanks to your inspiring post, I have found that I can now complete the final chapters of my book.

    Goodluck and I will definitely be looking for your books through Kindle.

  106. avatar
    Red Tash says:

    Great story. Thanks for sharing.

    Before I ever got to the point of heartbreak, I got to the point of having a fourth kid on the way and two dying parents. It was a lot to handle. I’d done the query-go-round and walked away from one bad offer of representation & one middling contract in the past, for non-fiction and poetry projects, respectively. I was getting nowhere finding a good agent who would look at my fiction, and some agent blogs were just so MEAN it really was demoralizing. I had a nationally syndicated newspaper column–I knew I could write! And yet the thought of doing all that querying to snarky agents was just too much, with everything else I had to carry.

    I decided to go ahead and work. I’d publish my trunk novel and finish my second and fictionalize my column and maybe write a memoir, and who knows what else? What did I have to lose? Like you said, I’d have to do all the legwork to promote it, myself, anyway.

    So that’s where I am. Sometimes it’s a little frustrating to be working without an advance, but at least everything I earn with that 70% royalty is mine (and Uncle Sam’s) to keep. Oh, and I was offered a publishing contract recently for one of my books. We’ll see. It’s not a done deal. I like having the luxury of exploring my options. Not sure I’d have felt that way this time last year.

    Congrats & good luck to you!

  107. avatar
    Twila Godinez says:

    Thank you for such an inspiring article. I think you have correctly defined the new trend in publishing (not putting all of one’s hopes on the big publishing companies). I too have recently delved onto the world of self-publishing thanks to Amazon. It’s an interesting new world we’re living in, and I’m ready for the ride!

  108. avatar
    Christina says:

    Wow, i wish I knew which of the publishers let employees have Decembers AND Januarys off, AND vacations to the Cape! When I worked in the industry, man, I got stuck with a company where I was working 12 and 14 hour days working my ass off to sell books by, yeah, really famous authors. And authors who were on their first book. And solid midlist authors.

    Despite what you might think, the industry is not made up of fat cats who want to crush your dreams. It’s made of dedicated, passionate people who give their time and energy and creativity to the creation and promotion of books. If self-publishing works for you, then great. But please, let’s not pretend that Amazon is some great savior. They aren’t in the game to promote creativity and books and a free marketplace. They are in this game to make money, to get rid of their competition. The only reason Amazon started out by selling books was that ISBNs were easy to track and analyze. They don’t care about literary culture, bricks and mortar stores that are the cornerstones of culture and community in so many places around this country.

    So, sure, praise them for being interested in making money off of you. That’s just what they’d like, I’m sure.

    • avatar
      Marcela says:

      You’re missing her point. She’s not putting down the dedicated professionals in traditional publishing – she acknowledged that there are many in the industry. It’s the MODEL that she is saying is flawed – which it is! (Twelve – count them – TWELVE publishing houses rejected JK Rowling’s manuscript before a smaller press gave her a chance.

      And do you think she’s lying about the long vacations the execs take? Oh yes, that’s so unusual, execs taking long vacations while their rank and file employees work their butts off – that NEVER happens!

  109. avatar
    alex says:

    As a self-published author on Amazon, I applaud what you’ve done!

    Your licensing terms, though, are a bit intense. Since probably 95% of the readers are very likely innocent and don’t visit “smarmy” sites (I didn’t even know they existed, myself), I think you’re doing more of a disservice to yourself by having this intensity right off the bat. Fwiw.

    • avatar
      Daniel Berenson says:

      Thanks for your candid assessment of the evolving publishing environment. People like you are explorers who set out for the unknown, not knowing exactly what they’ll find, but willing to take the risk. Congratulations on your success. Well-earned. If you are not acquainted with J.A. Konrath’s blog ( ) — and I read every comment to see if it had been mentioned — you should run to it and unite with a fellow rebel. He has had guest posts by Barry Eisler and he might welcome one by you. His is a site I check in on every two-three days to see what new diatribe he has ready for the “pinheads” who disagree with his views on traditional publishing. It is truly exciting reading and he says he maintains the blog primarily to learn from his readers.

      I knew the traditional publishing cartel was in trouble around 10 years ago when I’d be querying different agents and a great percentage either didn’t even have websites or refused to consider work that was emailed to them. They considered themselves preservers of tradition, not the roadblocks to progress that they really were. After five agents over the years, I’ve grown weary of their potential worth though I cannot fault most of them for their efforts. I think many of them are the character in that Dylan song, Ballad of a Thin Man. “Because something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is do you Mr. Jones.”

      As for me, I’m self-published as of this year — STORIES GUARANTEED TO MAKE YOU SICK — but haven’t learned how to market yet. I’m putting out two joke books this summer, every joke illustrated, and a free book as well to scare up some publicity. Would love to send you a free copy of the above book if you’re interested, just as you’ve done with others. I have no doubt as to its value; it’s been read by hundreds of students in many classes and schools and I used their feedback to edit my work. You can read about it at Freaky Dude Books (as well as Amazon), and while you’re there, check out the original poetry videos, Dr. Crankenfuss’s blog, and my own original video game MOOSE HOCKEY.

      Because of you, once again I will try to locate any and all YA/middle school bloggers to have a look at my work. The writing is actually the easy part, as you no doubt know. Thanks so much again.

      Daniel Berenson

  110. avatar
    John D. says:


    This is such an amazing story. I am a student in college and one day I hope to be an author too. This story inspires me. I hope to publish through amazon one day. Good job!


  111. avatar
    J. Rodriguez says:

    I only wish I had your courage and strength, Jessica Park. I am in the same situation. I’d like to call myself a writer although I’m not really published. Then again, the only place where I was published was an online magazine called “The Absent Willow Review” and now they’re shut down. Kind of sad, don’t you think? And yet that one moment of being published was after about ten years of trying to published and being rejected. If you were take the amount of rejection letters that I have now you could make them into wallpaper for a good sized room.

    So you can imagine how frustrating it was for someone who is writing in the fantasy genre to see someone like Stephanie Meyer not only getting published but also having throngs of fans and having movies made of her books and getting recognition that doesn’t seem as earned as what you’ve done. It’s comparable to working in a company for years and years and hoping to get that promotion and just when the opportunity comes up some young upstart with no experience or qualifications comes in and snatches the job that you had hoped and worked for so very long. I know that seems rather petty but that’s the truth of the matter.

    Personally, in being a writer and a somewhat creative individual, I’m starting to see why so many people like us become alcoholics and suffer so much from the battle within the mind. People like, Ernest Hemmingway, Vincent VanGough, Kurt Cobain, Sylvia Plath and so many others.

    So what can we do? Simple move forward.

  112. avatar
    Carla says:

    What an inspiration you are, Jessica Park. Well done! I am a new author and I shared many of the same experiences: publishers wanting my copyright beyond five years. . . publishers wanting rights to my upcoming works before the first is completed. . .unfair contracts, etc. And to make matters worse, publishers are seeking to contract only big-named people, such as actors and singers, while real writers can’t catch a break! Not to mention, publishers have locked the doors to unsolicited manuscripts. So, I too went into self-publishing through Amazon.

    Wish you continued success.


  113. avatar
    Jodi says:

    Great post! I agree with the fact that freedom comes from self-publishing. I’m just starting out, but it gave me a chance. I write weird fantasy, and I knew I hadn’t a chance with commercial publishing (not until my weird fantasy stuff becomes really popular). How depressing! To want to write but to have no way to share it–and hopefully, make a living by it. But though I have bouts of the blues with self-publishing because I’m impatient, it’s nothing like before modern self-publishing came along. I really understand your point there.

    Thanks for sharing!


  114. avatar
    David N says:

    I am probably the other end of this post. I do not write books but I buy a lot on my kindle. I particularly purchased my kindle because I wanted to read Indie books. Hey, at $2.99 you can afford to buy a book and, if half way through it, you decide it isn’t worth you just chuck it and buy another.

    But, what I like about the Indie’s is I can read so many books that have odd or non-main street themes. I like this.

  115. avatar
    Joy says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Jessica, with both the publishing houses and self-publishing channels. I’ve been writing for several years now but have not had the time or the courage to move forward. For now I keep writing. When the words come to mind I write on anything I can find and when I have a chance I get the words on my laptop. It’s something I enjoy so I’m hoping eventually to be able to get a story or two out there. Self-publish may be the way for me to go. I’m not looking to make a million but would like to be able to supplement my income in the future. Thank you, again, and best wishes on your continued success.

  116. avatar
    Jana says:

    I have read Flat Out Love and loved it! It was such a refreshing and enjoyable read. It is clearly one of the best books I have read this year and cannot stop recommending it to friends, family, and sometimes complete strangers. Keep writing, you have an amazing story to tell!

  117. avatar
    Diane Moody says:

    Preach it, girl! LOVE your post and thank you so much for laying it all out there. I’m living the dream now too, thanks to Amazon, and having the time of my life! The first time my royalty check covered our mortgage, I cried. And each month since has exceeded my wildest dreams. It’s as if the gatekeepers have finally had to step aside, and as you said, the readers FINALLY get to call the shots. I’m blown away by the emails I’ve received from my readers. But what breaks my heart is those who still think the only “legitimate” books are those with the big house emblem on the cover. They keep drinking the Kool Aid year after year.

    I never dreamed I’d see this kind of success, and like you, I owe a HUGE thank you to Amazon. And if a major house offered me a 7 figure deal for one of my books? I’d laugh and walk away in a TENNESSEE minute. That’s how much I love self-publishing.


  118. avatar
    GemmaT says:

    Here’s a big thank you from Antarctica (no, really. I work at McMurdo Station). I sent out one query after another for my dark historical novel Plaguewalker only to be told it was very well written but “not right for the market right now.”

    I decided to go the CreateSpace/KDP route and set to teaching myself all about templates, conversions, ISBNs…it was a steep learning curve, but by the time I published Plaguewalker last month, I’d learned several new skills and had a product that was truly my work, from the cover art to the interior font selection (Love you, Garamond). Seeing it for sale on Amazon, “like a real book” as one friend gushed, was a thrill.

    Then came an even greater thrill. An email from a stranger who randomly stumbled on the book doing a keyword search, read the excerpt, liked it enough to try the sample, loved that and bought the book for her (his?) Kindle, then searched for the website simply to message me how much she (he? I don’t know!!) loved it. Then it happened again, with another stranger. And another. I wouldn’t trade those genuine connections for anything, including (and especially) a Big Six contract.

    I published my book from here on Ross Island, by the way, even though we don’t have mail service from February through August. CreateSpace/KDP/Amazon made it easy to do, another reason I am a big fan.

    If an author wants to pursue a traditional publishing contract, I wish him well, but I also know I have no intention of ever trying that route again, for all the reasons you cited.

    Thanks and best of luck with the next one!

  119. avatar
    Debra Holland says:

    I want to say, “Hear, hear!” I had a similar experience with not one, but two agents trying to sell my books. I have a pile of rejections. I self-published my sweet historical Western romances in April 2011, and my fantasy romances several months later. I ended up selling almost 97,000 in the first year, and one book made the USA Today bestseller list. the majority of those sales were on Amazon. I’m definitely grateful to Amazon and other ebook retailers. My life’s definitely different than it was a year ago. I bought a nice new car today paid for solely with my royalties. My boyfriend says I should call it The Bookmobile. 🙂

  120. avatar
    Peter Dudley says:


    It is so much fun connecting with readers. I just this weekend found out that a girl liked my self-pubbed YA novel so much that she wrote her 10th grade book report on it. If I had been (un)fortunate enough to get through the query and contract process (which I mostly avoided from the get-go), I’d be saying things like, “My debut novel is due out in 2014” instead of things like, “I’m so thrilled you liked my book!”

  121. avatar
    Ken K. Chartrand says:

    Hi friends! If you are one that has never heard of me ,let me introduce myself to you.
    I am Ken K. Chartrand a married,middle aged,late blooming author. Within the last 6 years I have become a published author. I am a self published author and have a few books out there . Maybe you’ve heard of a mystery /thriller titled ,Tag…You’re Dead” or maybe my most recent novel, “The Lupine Effect” a werewolf/romance thriller!
    I have also very recently uploaded to the Amazon Kindle Direct system a few short stories . Check them out at Kindle Store. a couple are for children and a couple are for adult general readers. one is a Prequel to my werewolf novel,”The Lupine Effect” it is titled , The Utterance(the lupine effect) My short stories are for sale from $0.99 to $1.99

  122. avatar
    sweetpoet says:

    Truer words were hardly ever spoken. What people learn from history is that PEOPLE NEVER LEARN FROM HISTORY. I did not read all of this amazing blog post, (I will soon though), but the portions that I did read about how “out of touch” the average publisher and agent are, etc, and how stupid and short-sighted, and lame, and insufferable they can be (and usually are), I know only too well. I’m an independent author and artist.

    It seems that if a person is not famous, a celebrity, or rich, he or she has to work SO HARD to get anything published by the “houses”. So that’s why things like Lulu and ADP are around.

    Also, just wanted to say, that J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series of books (as everyone who has not dwelt under rocks in the past 15 years knows), went through heart-break, and rejection, and nonsense with publishers too, in the U.K. Rowling got rejected by at least FIVE publishers in a row. And always with the same stupid reason. “Errghhhhh, the book is too long, kids of that age will not read it. They won’t read such a big book” arf arf arf. Ok, so then what happened, Rowling did NOT give up, NOR did she listen to those silly farts, to shorten any of her stories. She persisted, found a smaller publishing house, a less reputable one, the guy there was cool, open-minded, and decided to give Rowling a shot. The stories seemed really interesting, engaging, and intriguing. (I’m NOT really Harry Potter fan, by the way, too much witchery for my taste, but that’s not the point…)

    The stories were well written, interesting names, themes, words, dialogue, plots, and concepts. He gave her a chance. Cool. Ok, well to make the long story short (pardon the pun), KIDS (AND EVEN OLDER PEOPLE) TOOK TO THE FIRST BOOK, AND SECOND BOOK, LIKE CRAZY….in the 1990’s. The very youngsters (ages 8 to 15 etc etc), who those block-head publishers and agents in England said wouldn’t take the time to read through all of the book, READ THE WHOLE BOOKS SO MANY TIMES THAT THE SPINES OF THE BOOKS WORE OUT AND BROKE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And they couldn’t get enough of it! Talk about connecting with audiences and readers!! LOL. Then movies (of course) were made of all the novels. Rowling became a freakin BILLIONARIE. (Sighs…) The publisher who gave her a chance IS RICH AND FAMOUS. Well, as for those five publishers who dissed and dismissed Rowling….they all committed suicide. LOL……… Anyway, you get the point.

    Most publishers are braindead losers and short-sighted small-minded zombie-tards. So something like self-publishing (which has been around even before the Net took off), and now elaborated with lovely (though not perfect, but lovely) things like Lulu and Amazon Direct Publishing, etc, HAD to be created. it was kind of inevitable.

    Writers HAVE to get their stuff out. Some how some way. FOR THE AVERAGE READERS. A writer MUST communicate his thoughts, ideas, views, and knowledge to people. The average people of the world. Not some elitist publisher turdo, who only thinks about money, and “sales potentials” (barf), and not good stories or good writing. Not understanding that good stories and good writing WILL GENERALLY lead to success and profit. But give it a chance, for God’s sake! They’ll never learn, cuz people DON’T genereally learn from history. But repeat the same dumb mistakes each year each decade each damn century. But the drive will not be stopped. Amazon understand this. So does Lulu.

    I wish I could give Jessica Park a big hug, and congratulations, for her hard work, perseverance, tenacity, passion, love, drive, and faith. And willingness to try different avenues. And never give up. Now she’s more famous and loved than when she was in the past when dealing with those annoying stuff-shirts in the publishing houses. Don’t get me wrong. Traditional publishing companies have their place. They’ve done much good work over the years (when they’re smart and cool) no doubt. But too man authors and writers over the years have been unfairly snubbed and discouraged by too many of the narrow-minded drones in the publishing world, the elitist goofballs who can’t see a good book if it fell on their hard heads, and who schmuckishly are an auto-reject mode 90% of the time it seems, that it has caused a LOSS to them and to the world who never got to read these other authors’ great work. Too many nice and sharp and sweet things have gone unpublished and unknown, for too long. Well now it’s changing. Thank the Lord for that. And thank you, Amazon….and thank you, Jessica. For your inspiring story. Much further success to you and yours. Happy writing (and publishing). Much love.
    Angelo Gagaliano

  123. avatar
    sweetpoet says:

    Truer words were hardly ever spoken. What people learn from history is that PEOPLE NEVER LEARN FROM HISTORY. I did not read all of this amazing blog post, (I will soon though), but the portions that I did read about how “out of touch” the average publisher and agent are, etc, and how stupid and short-sighted, and lame, and insufferable they can be (and usually are), I know only too well. I’m an independent author and artist.

    It seems that if a person is not famous, a celebrity, or rich, he or she has to work SO HARD to get anything published by the “houses”. So that’s why things like Lulu and ADP are around.

    Also, just wanted to say, that J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series of books (as everyone who has not dwelt under rocks in the past 15 years knows), went through heart-break, and rejection, and nonsense with publishers too, in the U.K. Rowling got rejected by at least FIVE publishers in a row. And always with the same stupid reason. “Errghhhhh, the book is too long, kids of that age will not read it. They won’t read such a big book” arf arf arf. Ok, so then what happened, Rowling did NOT give up, NOR did she listen to those silly farts, to shorten any of her stories. She persisted, found a smaller publishing house, a less reputable one, the guy there was cool, open-minded, and decided to give Rowling a shot. The stories seemed really interesting, engaging, and intriguing. (I’m NOT really Harry Potter fan, by the way, too much witchery for my taste, but that’s not the point…)

    The stories were well written, interesting names, themes, words, dialogue, plots, and concepts. He gave her a chance. Cool. Ok, well to make the long story short (pardon the pun), KIDS (AND EVEN OLDER PEOPLE) TOOK TO THE FIRST BOOK, AND SECOND BOOK, LIKE CRAZY….in the 1990′s. The very youngsters (ages 8 to 15 etc etc), who those block-head publishers and agents in England said wouldn’t take the time to read through all of the book, READ THE WHOLE BOOKS SO MANY TIMES THAT THE SPINES OF THE BOOKS WORE OUT AND BROKE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And they couldn’t get enough of it! Talk about connecting with audiences and readers!! LOL. Then movies (of course) were made of all the novels. Rowling became a freakin BILLIONARIE. (Sighs…) The publisher who gave her a chance IS RICH AND FAMOUS. Well, as for those five publishers who dissed and dismissed Rowling….they all committed suicide. LOL……… Anyway, you get the point.

    Most publishers are braindead losers and short-sighted small-minded zombie-tards. So something like self-publishing (which has been around even before the Net took off), and now elaborated with lovely (though not perfect, but lovely) things like Lulu and Amazon Direct Publishing, etc, HAD to be created. it was kind of inevitable.

    Writers HAVE to get their stuff out. Some how some way. FOR THE AVERAGE READERS. A writer MUST communicate his thoughts, ideas, views, and knowledge to people. The average people of the world. Not some elitist publisher turdo, who only thinks about money, and “sales potentials” (barf), and not good stories or good writing. Not understanding that good stories and good writing WILL GENERALLY lead to success and profit. But give it a chance, for God’s sake! They’ll never learn, cuz people DON’T generally learn from history. But repeat the same dumb mistakes each year each decade each damn century. But the drive will not be stopped. Amazon understands this. So does Lulu.

    I wish I could give Jessica Park a big hug, and congratulations, for her hard work, perseverance, tenacity, passion, love, drive, and faith. And willingness to try different avenues. And never give up. Now she’s more famous and loved than when she was in the past when dealing with those annoying stuff-shirts in the publishing houses. Don’t get me wrong. Traditional publishing companies have their place. They’ve done much good work over the years (when they’re smart and cool) no doubt. But too man authors and writers over the years have been unfairly snubbed and discouraged by too many of the narrow-minded drones in the publishing world, the elitist goofballs who can’t see a good book if it fell on their hard heads, and who schmuckishly are an auto-reject mode 90% of the time it seems, that it has caused a LOSS to them and to the world who never got to read these other authors’ great work. Too many nice and sharp and sweet things have gone unpublished and unknown, for too long. Well now it’s changing. Thank the Lord for that. And thank you, Amazon….and thank you, Jessica. For your inspiring story. Much further success to you and yours. Happy writing (and publishing). Much love.
    Angelo Gagliano

  124. avatar
    Rob Conaway says:

    Amazing journey and read late this Monday night. You are a inspiration to those of us who dream of, are beginning to and are now doing something that they love.

    All the best and much success.

  125. avatar
    Kelly says:

    I knew nothing about your publishing issues until today, but I did know I read your book –Flat Out Love– and I LOVED it. Read it in one or two days because I had a hard time putting it down!

  126. avatar
    SolariC says:

    This was a fascinating article. I just ran into another authoress (Kelly Hollingsworth) who had also used Amazon to self-publish. She had nothing but praise for the process. I have a couple of novels that I’m editing this summer, so maybe I’ll look into the Amazon’s options. Thanks for the information!

  127. avatar
    MARK KODISH says:

    Thanks, I have self published on Amazon and now I am encouraged to write more.
    If there is anybody who would like to read my book and comment, please write me.

    Title: Get Your Mind Right, it’s for children


  128. avatar
    Rich Bullock says:

    Terrific! Exactly the same reasons I just published my first novel through KDP. I had a contract offer that was junk. Pricing was terrible, royalties terrible, and they wanted me to change the story. Nope, I was done with that book and had great feedback from test readers.

    I’m extremely proud to have my book on Amazon for friends and family to read, and they are loving it! The future is bright!!

  129. avatar
    Amos D. Alley says:

    I recently purchased your Kindle Book after the recommendation of Jeff Bezos of Amazon. I am in the process of reading it now. I hot linked to this website and read your story. I was quite touched by your post. The world is full of the type of roadblocks you encountered, so I’m glad you found an approach that put these “blood suckers” in their place.

  130. avatar
    Josh Tricks says:

    This is a very inspiring story Jessica. I passed on your story to a friend and she was in tears. I am no writer, but being a best friend of one helped me understand what you guys go through. Keep strong, keep fighting. Thanks for sharing your inspiration to all ofu s.

  131. avatar
    Saskia E. Akyil says:

    Thank you so much, Jessica Park, for legitimizing the self-published, because that’s what you just did.

    Self-published books get such a bad rap. There’s an assumption that they’re only self-published because they’re crap. And sure, there are some terrible self-published books out there. There are also some god-awful traditionally-published books out there. Bestsellers even. It’s sickening. It makes my stomach churn to think about all of the useless books out there that have huge publishing deals and publicity packages while my book, which has gotten good reviews, somehow doesn’t appeal to agents. They like it, but not enough. What that really means, I guess, is that they think it’s good but that they can’t sell it to publishers. I’ve been asked for the full manuscript so many times, and have had very encouraging comments from agents, but never a bite. I’m self-published now (book title: Secrets of a Summer Village). The 200 or so people who have read my book… many of them have contacted me to let me know what a great adventure I took them on. That’s what it’s all about. Sure, I would love to have reached many more people, and I am working very hard trying to do guest posts and get my book reviewed by bloggers. My success or failure is in my hands, which is a scary and empowering place to be.

    Thank you for giving me the push I needed to keep going!

  132. avatar
    John V says:

    “Publishing has only two indispensable participants: authors and readers…. any technology that brings these two groups closer makes the whole industry more efficient — but hurts those who benefit from the distance between them.” The Economist, 2008

    Also, this list might be of some interest:

    169 authors (and growing) who have sold more than 50,000 self-published ebooks.

  133. avatar
    sharon k owen says:

    wonderful post. thank you for sharing your experience.
    i’ve read both Flat-out Love and Relatively Famous and loved them both. Great writing.
    I self-published my first book Thicker Than Water (brands crossing series) in 2011 and am finishing my second which will be published in 2012.
    My numbers aren’t as good as yours yet but I’ve done well during the 5-day promotions and the sales are inching up.
    My experience with KDP has been very positive and I can’t imagine going in any other direction.
    sharon k owen

  134. avatar
    KarenH says:

    All I can say is Thank God for Amazon (or is that Thank Finn?) ! Flat-Out Love is a gem – my top read this year and a story that I will cherish forever!

  135. avatar
    A. B. Betsill says:

    Oh no! My book is about an 18 year old new bride, puts on the disguse an enlist with her husband into the Army of the Cumberland to fight under General Grant. I see now I should have included the husband being bitten or killed by a vampire. I am self publishing and expect it to be available by the Fourth of July. Thanks for the encouraging words.

  136. avatar
    Linsey Lanier says:

    I love your post, Jessica. I am like many of us who’ve been chewed up and spit out by the rejection machine. The first full manuscript I self-published had been rejected by one of the best. It went on to hit a top ten list and I’ve gotten many wonderful letters from fans saying how much they loved it. You are so right. We write for the readers. Let the readers read!

    Thank you Jeff Bezos!

  137. avatar
    Mandy N says:

    Such an interesting article! I’m really loving indie/self-published books at the moment – I used to think that they would be of a lower standard than other books, but I’ve happily been proven wrong. I’m really looking forward to reading Flat Out Love when I get my hands on a copy! 🙂

  138. avatar
    Kate Worth says:

    I jumped into the pool with you this week! Last week, an agent I had been talking with for several months decided “to take a pass” on my project. I was terribly disappointed, but I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and self-published instead. My book, The Promise, went live on Amazon yesterday. It looks beautiful (if I do say so myself)! The kindle version is up; the printed book should join it within the week. I wrote about rejection and the decision to go indie in my blog this week at

    Kate Worth

  139. avatar
    VR Vogt says:

    As a self publisher of the book Tempted Knights I can feel your pain. I am glad that I was able to get my book out there. I put out a lot of cash but it was well worth it to see my book on the shelf.

  140. avatar
    George Holroyd says:


    I just read your article and immediately shared it on the Flak Photo Network on Facebook. I think your piece is relevant to the traditional gallery dynamic for artists (photographers) as well. Simply replace the traditional publishing house with a brick and mortar gallery and we, as artists are all forced to ask our respective traditional institutions what they offer that we cannot do for ourselves?

  141. avatar
    Ricky Kher says:

    You have amazing talent. I read sample chapters of your book on Amazon and you are my new favorite writer. To hell with those who rejected this lovely work. I am looking forward towards having the privilege of owning my copy of the book and go through it shortly. Shall be eagerly waiting for your next one Jessica. All the very best!!!

  142. avatar
    Vickie Smith The Quiet Doll Queen says:

    I really needed to read this article today. After rejections by the publishing industry I helped my husband self publish his first book Confessions of a Butcher-eat steak on a hamburger budget and save$$$ originally in 1998. When we updated in 2006 the ebook was an afterthought but we’ve sold more ebooks that physical copies at this point. Many through Amazon.

    Make no mistake, self publishing is a ton of work and no guaranteed success but the cream will rise to the top. I am so inspired by your success and look forward to publishing a book of my own and to continue to help my hubby get his books into the hands of those who adore his words. We’ll be one of those overnight successes that took years in the making. He’s being featured in the Woman’s Day magazine/July 2012 and TLC Extreme Cheapskates coming soon 🙂
    Wishing the best to all other aspiring writers and to you Jessica

  143. avatar
    Jaime says:

    What if you have a “book” written but it is not professionally written it is years and years of your story. Where does one go to get it all put together (grammar, lay out etc) so that they can publish a professional piece of work?

    Thank you.

  144. avatar
    Theresa Cavender says:

    Oh my, thank you Jessica. I just read your blog “How Amazon Saved My Life,” and oh how I wish I could go back and redo the publishing of my book, “Dancing Naked in the Rain.” Although I did self-publish after a few rejections, I did it for a high price tag for services and minimal profits, so I haven’t been able to continue ‘buying’ their assistance. I have sold a number of books on my own, locally, and have received some good reviews, and even though it’s carried on Amazon, sales are minimal–obviously, I don’t know how to get it out there.

    “Dancing Naked in the Rain” won 1st Place for Romance in the 2010 National Book Awards and an Editor’s Choice Award, but my royalty checks are pathetic–and at this point, I’m just repeating some of the same stories I’ve been reading on your blog. Forgive me. I started writing only a few years ago after 33 years in the English classroom. God, how I love writing, but my second book, a sequel to “Dancing” sits half finished because I’m wondering what the point is if I can’t make a profit on my time and effort. As a teacher, I certainly understand working for the love of it, but I really would like a bigger audience. So…I’m going to finish that sequel and publishh with Amazon and, perhaps, earn the money to ‘buy back’ my manuscript from****. At least there’s hope. Thanks again.

  145. avatar
    Childrens Media says:

    Jessica, I am truly happy for your success and hope your book really takes off to the 150k a month level! I haven’t had quite as much success with my children’s books but I’m chugging along and working on my next book now. Amazon has been great though and at least provided a great outlet to have my book, Sky Pals, published. Interestingly, this children’s book was written by my father and rejected by all publishers back in the late 60’s. My dad essentially gave up his efforts. I resurrected it from the depths of our attic and got him to redo some of his wonderful water color illustrations and published it for Kindle and on the iPad. I even did an interactive app of it for iPad and iPhone with my daughter narrating. But now he’s finally been able to see his work published after 40 years! That’s really the beauty of technology and what Amazon and Apple have done so well.

  146. avatar
    Daniel L. Berek says:

    Thank you, Jessica and Amazon, for your encouragement. I have just left a job in teaching and the entire teaching field in utter disgust; they seem to be afflicted with similar management dysfunctionality. My dream, though, is to write nonfiction books for various ages of young audiences, with the strong belief that children (and adults alike) can learn a great deal from the lives of people who have made important contributions to society despite personal setbacks. I am inspired to give this venue a try; from what I have been hearing elsewhere, this is where the future of a great deal of publishing lies. By the way, my aunt, reknowned children’s book author Jan Slepian, who has published multiple books with some of the biggest houses in New York and London, has issued two self-published books right here on Amazon. They are delightful, beautifully written books, well deserving of a wide readership. So, thank you for the encouragement; I am sure I will be back!

  147. avatar
    Adam Armour says:

    This was great. I love reading about this stuff, and the more I do, the more I think self-publishing is flat-out the way to go.

    One thing I’d like to add: One of the primary arguments detractors of self-publishing like to employ is that, without agents and big publishing houses the world will be flooded with shitty, unpolished novels.

    “But who will filter out all the tripe,” they ask.

    Well, common sense says, we will. I mean, I can judge what I like and don’t like for myself. I don’t need an agent or publisher doing that. If it’s a book I want to read, I’ll read it. If it’s no good, I’ll stop reading it. No harm, no foul. I don’t need someone else doing that for me.

    • avatar
      Marcela says:

      ““But who will filter out all the tripe,” they ask.

      Well, common sense says, we will. I mean, I can judge what I like and don’t like for myself. I don’t need an agent or publisher doing that. If it’s a book I want to read, I’ll read it. If it’s no good, I’ll stop reading it. No harm, no foul. I don’t need someone else doing that for me.”

      Yes, EXACTLY!!

        • avatar
          Marcela says:

          Yeeees….I never said I didn’t. So far, the self-published books I’ve purchased were properly edited and polished. Besides, that’s what previews are for.

  148. avatar
    Daphne says:

    All I want to do is write. I have no idea how to get started or what to do with it once it is written. I doubt my talent and the abiity to write something reader worthy every day. Maybe one day……

    I admire your determination!

  149. avatar
    Josep says:

    I’ve just read the entry and all I can say is that’s quite an inspiration. Thanks for sharing with us your experience, it’s a ray of light in these dark/hard times we’re all living. I really hope that luck goes with you, because if there’s someone who deserves it, I can tell that this is you. I admire your guts to make such a step and your succees (as for others indie writters) tells us that this could be the beginning for a better future in this profession. Maybe one day I’ll be publishing a book by myself (that’s my dream indeed) and then, if someone asks my reasons, I’ll talk about Jessica Park.

    I never heard about your work until today but, from now on, I’ll keep an eye on it. I’m going to buy “Flat-Out Love” and it’s going to enter into my “summer readings” list.

    Thanks again and sorry for my English. I’m still learning (I’m from Spain) and I’m sure that your book will help me improving. : )

  150. avatar
    M says:

    Congratulations on your success — self-publishing obviously worked out for you. But I can’t help be bothered by a lot of the same misconceptions about traditional publishing in this post as I’ve seen other places, and they don’t seem to have been brought up by other commenters.

    1. A dozen rejections is not a lot. There are tons of examples of famous authors whose now-classic works were rejected over and over again. It hurts to be rejected, but it happens — and as you discovered, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your book isn’t good, but rather that the editor doesn’t think it will sell or that it’s not the right fit for that particular publishing house. Yes, the arbitrary age cut-offs are stupid, and not every editor would reject a book based on that fact.

    2. Not every publishing house is like the ones your friends experienced. It’s very true that a crappy publisher is far worse than no publisher. But a publisher that truly takes care of its authors, markets their books well, and provides conscientious editing is worth a lot. Authors submitting their work should carefully evaluate any publisher that offers to publish it — if the choice is between a poorly run publisher with no resources/inclination to give your book the production and marketing it deserve and going the self-publishing route, then yes, self-publishing is the way to go.

    3. It’s true that you can’t live on the advances and royalty rates most publishers will give you. But they don’t expect you to. It’s a common myth that you can make a living writing a book a year — that only happens if the book sells really, really well and/or you’re well known enough to command a big advance.

    4. On a related note, it’s worth noting that most books that are published never “earn out” — that is, they don’t generate enough sales to make back the amount the publisher has paid the author for the advance, which means the publisher is actually losing money on the book. They can afford to do this by balancing out their list with the big-name authors that WILL make money. The publisher won’t pay an unknown author much money, but as a trade-off, they are the ones accepting the risk if the book doesn’t sell well. The author still gets a little bit of money even if they don’t sell a single copy.

    The classic disclaimer that should accompany all self-publishing success stories is that everyone’s situation is different. You were successful self-publishing, and you deserve congratulations for that. But it doesn’t mean that all traditional publishers are incompetent and terrible, and it also doesn’t mean that self-publishing is the best route for everyone.

    I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but I hate to see publishing houses constantly dragged through the mud because of some people’s bad experiences — just as self-publishers get a bad name because of the poor quality self-pubbed books out there.

    • avatar
      terry tracy says:

      Dear M.

      It may be my imagination but there is a scent of “traditional publishing house” in your comment. Though your arguments are well reasoned and do explain the industry, they do not justify it. If you are from the industry my congratulations to you for monitoring these sites. I think there are publishing industry realists who do understand that there is a revolution. I am guessing that within five years time one of the major publishing houses is going to have a link to self-publishing. I think the first step for the house that ventures here may be to provide professional quality lay-out, proof-reading, design, copy-editing services. That is the current cacophony. If you ask me there are not enough good proof-readers around. Evidence of this is in the myriad of errors that show up in NYT and the Washington Post. You can imagine what it is like for a self-published author to try to ensure an error-free publication. If anyone in the industry is reading this, then know that this is a vacuum. Build and provide a network of quality technicians who can ‘enable’ a book to be as professional as possible. The house doesn’t have to ‘make it a good book’ because it’s not theirs to judge, That’s the future for the big 6, ‘enabling’ authors, not ‘finding’ them. I think the readers will find the authors. And as for agents, your future is creating promotional packages for these self-published authors.

      • avatar
        Gary T says:

        “the myriad of” errors.

        Maybe this word is changing in usage, but from what I remember, grammer snob that I be, there should be no “the” before and no “of” after the word “myriad”

    • avatar
      M says:

      Terry, I totally agree about proofreading and layout. Both self-publishers and so-called professional sources could stand to pay more attention to both. I’m actually starting out as an editor myself — and not specifically for publishers or independent authors. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the content that’s most important, not the delivery. Traditional publishing is right for some authors and some books, self-publishing is right for others.

      To you and writingmama, I didn’t at all mean to imply in my post that traditional publishing is flawless and superior. I just think it’s important for people to make an informed decision about what they do with their book, and I happen to disagree that traditional houses are totally irrelevant — although I do agree that a lot of them have not kept up with the changing model.

      • avatar
        terry tracy says:

        True, there are different routes for different books.

        I think that traditional houses will always be the trusted publishers of non-fiction. Self-help books aside, people want a stamp of approval and they need the peer reviews to verify the information. Academics will always be chained to the traditional publishing industry and that’s a positive in my opinion. In fact if there are survival plans being drafted in the basements of publishing houses then I think the non-fiction departments will be the ‘safe-rooms’ that will keep them alive while they reconfigure themselves.

        I think the novel is the hero of self-publishing and the driving force in this new industry. Voracious readers (and I find that term synonymous with Kindle users) just want to hear different stories. It still surprises me, but just as Jessica says, it seems that they really do not care about the publishing house but the story. That seems like common sense, but it is counter-intuitive to writers, like me, who have been awaiting approval from a traditional publishing house. I’m so glad I lost patience and just took a dive. I’m grateful to authors like Jessica who know both worlds and are telling their experiences. I am coming across more and more stories that make me realize that I really am lucky to be writing in the Age of Amazon.

        I live in London and a few months ago I went to a book-shop where I remember seeing several novels that were printed in the midst of WWII. They were on very thin paper and I asked the store-owner how is it that Britain kept a publishing industry alive at this time when bombs were dropping and everyone was living on rations. He said that printing was a priority to keep a semblance of life before the war and the novel was a means of escapism.

        I didn’t realize until then how powerful that need for escapism is and that is why readers are willing to venture outside of the traditional routes. It seems that many are tired of the ‘escape hatch templates’ that many of the traditional houses keep producing. It seems, from what I am learning and Jessica is proving, that people just want to read fresh, new stories and so they give us, self-published authors, a chance through our novels.

        It’s an invigorating time, but at the same time, I just keep looking up to see if something is going to come crashing down. I ,like many here, am in awe of Amazon and very grateful. However I know that no company is perfect so let’s see how they continue to treat us. But for now, I’ll try to surf the wave that is the self-publishing revolution.

    • avatar
      Stella says:

      Plus, as someone else pointed out, Jessica had a built in audience, having previously had several books published. I truly wonder if her story – although presumably true – is just a sales job for Amazon.

      • avatar
        Amy Edelman says:

        No, Jessica’s post is not “just a sales job for Amazon”. It is a story that IndieReader thought would be interesting to their audience. It appeared here first, and then via our publishing partner, The Huffington Post. Amazon was the last to find it.

        Thx for reading!


      • avatar
        Jessica Park says:

        Stella, the books I had previously published with a publishing house gave me virtually no crossover audience as I switched genres. What I have written in this post is my story, my feelings, and with no agenda other than to pass on some hope to other authors.

  151. avatar
    Nathan J. Anderson says:

    Thank you for such a passionate article! I published “Jak and the Scarlet Thread” thru Amazon last fall because I couldn’t afford to wait for the traditional publishers to decide I was worth the risk. I LOVE what CreateSpace did for the artwork. Now I’m working on getting the word out.

  152. avatar
    David R says:

    Jessica, I can’t tell you how much encouragement I’ve drawn from your story. I majored in English literature in college 32 years ago, fully intending to embark on a writing career after graduation. Unfortunately, many well-meaning friends and relatives fed me a steady diet of “starving artist” stories and I allowed myself to be intimidated. I became a Marine Corps officer, worked as an audio industry sales manager, and ultimately embarked on a long career in information technology. Through it all, the dream of becoming a published author has endured. I make a good living now in a job that I can tolerate, but every passing year increases my envy of those whose live their passion every day. Your story gives me hope that I may someday be able to join their ranks.

  153. avatar
    Gretchen says:

    I love your post! My husband is experiencing the same frustrations with the publishing business and I’m encouraging him to look into self publishing. One question though, what do you do for editing? Did you edit it yourself, or find an independent editor? How does that work?

    • avatar
      Chuck D. says:

      Hey Gretchen:

      I cannot speak for Jessica, but here’s my process:

      1. Write it
      2. Re-write and edit numerous times (at least three or four, with gaps of time between each one)
      3. Hire an editor. I use a young lady I found on LinkedIn. She’s wonderful.
      4. After all editing is done, give the manuscript to five (or more) fastidious friends and have them read and error-proof.

      That’s just my system–no guarantees your husband will like it. Hope it helps!

  154. avatar
    David Biddle says:

    The most awesome thing about this essay is the number of responses ALL IN ONE DAY. Oh my!

    Good job Jessica. You speak for a lot of us Indies.

    To me, the most important thing with being an Indie is the connection to readers. There’s no “House” in between. The marketing and sales element is, and should always be, direct between the author and the reader. Amazing how the whole game is changing. Keep up your successes. The list of other successes will continue to grow…

  155. avatar
    Jennings says:

    Love the article! I actually had this epiphany last week, and my book is off at the graphic designers/formatters as we speak. I only queried a dozen agents, but it just felt odd. “Great writing/story, not what people are buying” was the answer – except 100% of my 15 beta readers loved it (across backgrounds, genders, etc), and have been asking for a sequel. This is my 98 year old grandmother, 70 year old aunt, my daughter’s college friends, a mid-twenties male, and some of my peers (women and men). So… if they love it, and would buy it, and will buy the sequel, WTH kind of data do publishers have???

  156. avatar
    Lisa says:

    I am inspired by your success and am working on my first novel. I have had a few people read the beginnings of it and validate that it is indeed something to continue. I wanted to know, how do you find a good editor when you self publish? What are the approximate costs?


  157. avatar
    Ken Weyand says:

    Jessica, I appreciate your thoughts on self-publishing. I’m a lot older than you, and remember the days when self-publishing meant hauling stacks of books to your basement or garage and spending your rent money to find buyers. I have a couple of books written, and have been considering e-publishing. I don’t expect to make a lot of money, but I hope to connect with readers who share my interests. I will be working to make it happen. Thanks for your inspiring post.

  158. avatar
    Rosemary Hines says:

    I love this blog, Jessica. You have put my thoughts and experiences into a very articulate message. I have two books in a three-novel series that are available on Amazon in print and ebook formats (published by another self-publishing house called WestBow Press), and my readers’ comments affirm my decision to put them out. Please write another blog about the best ways to spread the word about self-published titles. You mentioned blog reviews, which I have gotten, but I’m sure you’ve found other ways to get the word out to prospective readers. Please shoot me an email if you publish a blog about your experiences in promotion.

  159. avatar
    vinnie mirchandani says:

    Jessica, love your passion. Will have to use “collective whiplash” somewhere myself 🙂

    As an author who has published 2 innovation books with a traditional publisher, I think they still have distribution power and cred with biz audiences. Most peer biz/tech authors I know give their publishers plenty of critical feedback. I let my publisher know they did worse on most attributes on second book compared to first. If that annoys them, I suspect they must be in a continually annoyed state hearing from other authors and do something about it. I hope someone calls me like Amazon called you about how they could improve.

    BTW you may enjoy this post

  160. avatar
    Anonymous says:

    This is a good post, and I’ve been reading alot of them lately where authors are stepping away from traditional houses to self publish. But I wish there was more info out there on how to market your work to get to those amazing sales. If you were already traditionally published then isn’t it safe to say you already had somewhat of a readership built up that you could target to? What does the brand new author do to get their book noticed? There is a SEA of books out there that the indie author has to compete with. For me there are pros and cons to being in charge of your own work. Its exhausting trying to hit every social network, blog, etc. I’d love to know what has been working and what hasn’t been working for exposure. 3,500 books a month? I’ve been lucky to break 20!

  161. avatar
    Linda Tremer says:

    I agree with you. I just published two books with Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace. Not to say there weren’t a few problems but overall a great experience. Better to have my books sitting on Amazon’s bookshelf than unpublished on my own shelf.

  162. avatar
    Brittany Lehman says:

    I really feel touched by your story, it makes me feel encouraged to keep moving towards getting published with amazon. I am a fiction writer. A BRAND NEW author to the world. I have NEVER been heard of, and my book and I are COMPLETELY UNKNOWN to the world at present. I hope to change that in the next year. Thank you for sharing your story. It gives me a great boost. Thanks. 🙂 <–(Smiley face)

  163. avatar
    Michelle says:

    Jessica…..I am new to the world of e-books. A little behind in the times, I guess, I just bought my Kindle Fire about a month and a half ago. I didn’t want to, really. I love books. I love the smell, the feel, the sound of a page turning, scarping against the comforter as I lay in bed, reading into the wee hours of the morning (when I really should be sleeping). But Kindle I went, and Kindle I am and tickled freakin’ pink about it, let me tell you! It’s as if there has been this secret library of great books in a parallel universe that I never knew existed. But ah, my Kindle is the portal into that universe! And so, on this day, I went to Amazon, I must confess, to scrounge around for cheap mp3’s…..and right there on the front page was this groovy little story about you, and your book. And I liked the way the cover looked (suprise!) and so I clicked on the link to check it out……took a peek “inside” to see if it could pique my interest at all……and lo and behold! My 41-year-old self is thrilled to read about your 18 year old college freshman who landed in a strange city to learn that her apartment was a burrito stand! It’s such a realistic scenario, and one that I am sure has actually happend to more than one unsuspecting soul in this world.

    And so, take heart. You *are* an author….and I am one of your readers. Screw the publishers, the record labels, the mass media news outlets…..screw them in their stupid necks. Yep. Their necks. Because really, isn’t that as absurd as they are?

    Cheers and best of luck with all you do,
    Michelle M.
    Burbank, CA

  164. avatar
    Brooks Weaver says:

    Ms. Park,

    Thank you for writing such an inspirational blog. Although I am not ruling out going with a publisher at this point, you have definitely opened my eyes to self-publishing (and for that I am thankful).

    As I have been working on my own story (featuring a young man who is about to go off to college, but has other, outstanding circumstances to deal with as well) that I would eventually like to publish, I’ve always wondered how I was going to get more feedback on the story, the grammatical structure and so forth.

    Do you have any advice on how to get effective feedback on such elements as story, grammer and the like because even though I have 2/3’s of my story outlined in detail and a few chapters nearly finished, I desperately need some help with refining the content (and my craft).

    Your feedback is very much appreciated.

    Either way, best of luck to you now and in the future.

  165. avatar
    Tracey says:

    You Go, Girl! How inspiring. Thank you for your candid point of view about the traditional publishing industry. It makes me glad that I am self-publishing. Woo-hoo!

  166. avatar
    Richard Levesque says:

    Thanks for this. I had a similarly frustrating experience with my novel, Take Back Tomorrow. I had an enthused agent who pitched the book to major publishers, and while several of them praised the book for its “nimble prose” and called it a “page turner,” they passed on it for a variety of reasons. At the time, I felt that they were just looking for the next Stephanie Meyer, and I’m not her. Now, though, I realize that the book was tough to categorize–it’s a time travel novel set in the 1940s with more of a noir feel to it than a traditional science fiction vibe.
    I ran into similar problems with my next book, and soon after decided I’d do better on my own. Now, thanks to Amazon, I’ve got one book out in paper and e-book formats and the next one getting ready. So far, my sales have mostly been through word-of-mouth and not stellar, but still it’s been extremely gratifying to have people tell me they couldn’t put the book down and are eager for the next one.

  167. avatar
    Michael J. Sullivan says:

    A great article – I’m so happy for you. This echos a very similar trek I had when self-published. Never thought I would see in exceess of 10,000 books sold a single month. It’s a brave new world out there and I love seeingn all these success stories.

  168. avatar
    William (Bill) Molloy says:

    I agree with everything you’ve said. I wrote two trade books in 1996 and 1997 published by John Wiley & sons, Inc. I was very happy to be published at all but never nmade any real money.
    My first novel, “The Armageddon Bug” is now on Amazon/Kindle and if you have any advice on how to best market a self published book, I’m all ears,
    Congratulations to you on your success.

  169. avatar
    David W. Berner says:

    Fantastic! Jessica, you are an inspiration. There are so many stories out there that are not being told. It’s not that the traditional publishers are the big bad wolf, it’s just a different world and risks are not being taken. But your tale of working through this process like a true professional is a wonderful story. I’ve done both routes – traditional and self-published – and there are merits and downfalls to both. Either way, the author, as you have, has to be committed to the work, has to belief in themselves, and has to find a way to be more than just an author, but to be a marketer. You’ve done that. It’s not an easy road, but as you very well know, there is little more satisfying for a writer than to get that story out there! Best to you, always!

  170. avatar
    Wendy McGee says:


    I always say things happen for a reason. I have been a writer/columnist for 7 years and working on a memoir about a woman who searches for her identity only to realize that her biological family has been living one street away her entire life. Everyone always asks “Do you have an agent?” I always reply “Nope” very calmly and the response back is that I better start praying. I am almost done with the book and not concerned because in the back of my head I would be an indie author and self-publish because I wanted to and opened up Amazon and there was your article. I was praying for guidance now think I have my answer. Thank you. Wendy from

  171. avatar
    terry tracy says:

    Fantastic. This is a manifesto. It is an articulate, eloquent, middle finger in the face of the traditional NY publishers. I needed to hear this from someone who knows the traditional publishing world and the self-publishing world. Thank you. By the way, Jessica, you should chart this journey from trad-pub-author to self-pub-author. This is novel-worthy. I can imagine a rich array of characters in this world and if it’s written in the same irreverent voice you used here it’s going to be selling fast. You already know there is a market for it, just look at us. Your would inspire the main character. Your villian would be the traditional editor and/or agent. Your hero, Amazon (but you’ve got to find the Achilles heel, no one’s perfect, but I am also still in awe, awaiting something to go wrong). Jessica if you write this book you would be one of the first people to write a novel that recounts what’s going on inside the revolution. If you write it. I’ll buy it. Regards, Terry Tracy

  172. avatar
    Marcia says:

    You are an inspiration. The same situation is true for visual artists and musicians as well…exposure tightly controlled by a few scared individuals…the thing you said about being overly thankful for every little crumb really resonates. Still trying to naviagate this slippery slope as a visual artist…any suggestions welcome.

  173. avatar
    Kristy Robinett says:

    Bravo! I used to hear that self-publishing was the kiss of death. After having several books published through a publishing house only to hear crickets after I pitched them my new projects, I also cried and got upset. Why was I allowing them to de-value my true intentions of writing? So I self-published, and just like you, felt this huge relief off of my shoulders. And….not that writing is about money (although we do need to pay our bills!), I earned more in the first month than I had in three years with a publisher! Then I started hearing from publishers!

    Thanks for speaking the truth and for sticking to your art! I hope that your message will serve to all other authors that they too should just believe and take chances. Self-publishing isn’t a kiss of death, it is actually breathing life into your project so that you can sail on to the next one.

  174. avatar
    arnot says:

    Too much swearing. No need for it.

    I’m finding it hard to understand how publishers are paying very little when they’re advancing six figure deals — absorbing the risk on an unknown outcome.

  175. avatar
    Allison says:

    The Washington Post carried a great article a while back about the new Gold Rush of e-publishing. I decided to turn my blog into an e-book — and it truly wasn’t just to make money. We had a great story to tell that could reach a lot of others looking to regain financial footing.

    It wasn’t as easy as I first thought, but it wasn’t terribly difficult either. If you, too, have any interest in getting your book on kindle, I encourage you to read my article about how to do so:

    I LOVE this story! E-publishing is not going anywhere!

  176. avatar
    Giles says:

    I heard that most of the editors at the big publishing houses now are snotty, smarmy young girls who hate men and get their kicks rejecting manuscripts from males. Anybody have that experience?

    • avatar
      Vanessa says:

      I heard that the male agents immediately throw away chick-lit and women’s fiction. I guess it depends on the person…

  177. avatar
    Terry Chestnutt says:

    What an awesome inspiration! I have been much wondering about self publishing with Amazon but I had severe doubts about whether anything could come of it. This makes me feel much better! Thanks.

  178. avatar
    Joanne Tombrakos says:

    Absolutely fantastic post! I could not agree with you more! My first book, The Secrets They Kept was a novel. The one I just published last month, It Takes An Egg Timer, a Guide to Creating the Time for Your Life is a non-fiction on time management. No publishing house would let me switch genres like that that in the space of one year, nor would they let me run 3 Free Days of the Kindle edition to generate downloads and interest the way Amazon is right now. I too am a fan of Amazon. I wasn’t always. But as a self-published author, its hard not to like them!

  179. avatar
    Amber Lynn Natusch says:

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I just read! I’m a successful Indie author who had that same frustration as you and got mad too. Publishing traditionally has become such a circus that it’s just not worth the effort and time. I spent over a year just trying to get an agent, all the while feeling like an epic failure. Eventually, I decided that I didn’t like banging my head against the wall and decided to go it alone. It was an amazing decision. Now I get to enjoy writing novels, not query letters and the like. I applaud you for sharing your story so candidly, and appreciate you for writing in the “new adult” age range that seems to be SO baffling to publishers. Strange that they don’t see value in books written for an age group that is arguably one of the highest book purchasing demographics. And they wonder why they’re failing…
    Thanks again for the great story!

  180. avatar
    Annie says:

    I am in the midst of writing my first fantasy book and am encouraged by your experience with self-publishing. I hope to finish it within a year and will definitely look into Amazon and see what’s what. Continued good luck to you!

  181. avatar
    Suzanne Cummings says:

    I held a short stint working part time assistant (yes assistant) secretary in a small non fiction publishing house in Chicago in the late 70s. Part of my job was to week through the unsolicited manuscripts and review them. If I saw anything promising, it was passed on to the publisher’s secretary. Everything else received a standard rejection letter and the manuscript was destroyed (and this was in the days when photocopying was not available everywhere and the correcting selectric typewriter was a wonder of technology).

    I am aware that my writing isn’t grammatically perfect and I’m a notoriously bad speller – yet even I was able to determine that many of the books I reviewed lacked the basic structure of an outline or clear thinking. Further, we received many manuscripts that were not even appropriate for the kind of publisher we were. This showed that the author hadn’t even taken the time to read our description in Writers Market. I remember being determined that if I ever decided to write a book I would make every effort to be very clear about the market I was attempting to reach and to aim my efforts at the appropriate agents and publishers.

    What I’m trying to say is that I feel that it is still very important for new self-publishers to hire experienced editors to weed out the grammatical error, the misspelling – the inconsistent plot point. I believe that it is important for new self-publishers to work on their craft and get feedback from others. And probably most important, to believe in themselves.

    I am very happy to see that independent writers are having success out on their own. Your story is VERY inspiring!

  182. avatar
    Norman says:

    Jessica, your story is inspiring. I published in November of last year on Amazon. It was my first book and people have posted reviews looking for more. That is a wonderful feeling to know you’ve reached someone. I share your feelings towards Amazon, they are not perfect but I appreciate their efforts to work with me. Thank you for this article. It shines a light on a publishing world that has always been shaded in mystery.

  183. avatar
    Kenneth Jarrett says:

    Relax, Honey. Evey book ever write will end up on remainder tables a year after their published – two bucks each, maybe three. The world doesn’t need more books, sure not more senseless trash..

  184. avatar
    David Reid Ross says:

    I read this post and loved it.

    I remember what it was like to be an 18/19 year old college freshman-sophomore and a reader of the fantasy genre. The idea that 18 year olds are to be ignored is just… absurd.

  185. avatar
    David Reid Ross says:

    I will say this, though. When publishing nonfiction, readers DO care about the publisher. Without revealing too much about my personal politics in here: rightwingers like Regnery and WND; leftwingers don’t. Neocon atheists like Prometheus; Muslims don’t. If a book is self-published then your casual B&N browser might not know “who sent you”. They might not trust you.

  186. avatar
    Stella says:

    Inspiring article, but nothing at all was mentioned about how the books are marketed. What does Amazon do to promote? Can someone speak to that? Also, what are the costs involved in self-publishing and promotion? Since none of this is in the article, I don’t know if the author is being completely upfront, or if she is shilling for Amazon’s publishing services..

    • avatar
      Amy Edelman says:

      See response above. This post was never intended to be about how books are marketed. It’s just one indie author’s experience. That said, there are plenty of places to go online to find that info. All you have to do is look.

      Good luck!


    • avatar
      Henri Burton says:

      Fascinating comment. Pointless, and doubtless self-serving, but fascinating. Self-publishing is free-including print, Amazon, Smashwords, etc. make money on individual sales-royalties for authors range from 30% to 80% depending on the retailer and the price of the book.

      As far as promotion goes…facebook and twitter are free, as is making a blog comment. Getting reviews is also free, but time-consuming, as discussed in the article. If you want more than that, I suppose you can pay someone to rip you off-but that’s what they will be doing.

      All of this is gee whiz info-who are you shilling for?

  187. avatar
    nemo says:

    Amazon or more accurately Jeff Bezos is a big player in restricting and manipulating the free at least for now internet. Boo Amazon.

  188. avatar
    Gloria says:

    Thanks for your story. I’ve gotten very positive feedback on my work, so I don’t doubt I can write a story. I’ve self-published two ebooks on Smashwords. I plan to do print on demand since a reader of my column ( saw the article that paper published about my ebook, and said she wanted to see it in print. So the print version is coming. It’s depressing to see the crap that DOES get published, and I wonder what the hell is going on. I’ve self-published before (back in the 90s, I did a ‘zine) and I guess I will do it again. Good luck to you and thanks for sharing your story. I imagine thousands of people who had previously given up on writing will give it a shot and self-publish.

  189. avatar
    John A. Heldt says:

    Thank you, Jessica, for telling it as it is and giving credit where it is due. I know it’s not popular to praise corporations, but in this case it’s justified. Because of Amazon, my novel, The Mine, has appreciative readers, not a frustrated author. And because of writers like you, self-publishing is rapidly losing its stigma. Please continue to speak out. The indie community needs voices like yours.

  190. avatar
    Marilyn Litt says:

    Very nice! I like YA books and will be reading yours and suggesting it to my YA loving relatives. I just wish Amazon paid bloggers 70%. We get a measly 30% cut. I am underpaid, but without them – I would not be paid anything. is my blog. I blog on free out of copyright books.

  191. avatar
    Carl Martin says:

    Thank you, Jessica! Amazon is such a change from the print publishing world.

    I published a science fiction novel with a friend of mine back in 1983. It nearly earned out its advance. I was excited. But my art career and then software engineering career took over my time. Writing took a back burner.

    Now, I’m back and writing like crazy. Print publishers are not as open. Amazon is certainly the way to go. And thanks for the tips about promoting a book through bloggers.

    Keep up the good work!

  192. avatar
    Scott Moon says:

    Great article. I love to hear about people living the dream, and I have to say the title of your book, Flat-Out Love, is great. I will have to check it out. I recently published my urban fantasy novel, Dragon Badge, on Kindle Direct and recieved my first review. Made my day. Take Care and good luck.

  193. avatar
    Kurt Corriher says:

    Thanks for a great article and for saying aloud what I’ve been saying privately for years. My first book, a thriller entitled Someone to Kill, got great reviews but the big New York house that printed it put nothing…NOTHING…into marketing. The whole experience was a nightmare and amply demonstrated every frustrating and enfuriating point you make about traditional publishing today. Sadly, they still don’t understand that they’re digging their own grave.

  194. avatar
    Daven Anderson says:

    Thank you for your inspiring post! 😀

    Last October, I blogged about The Rejection Window, which is the amount of time an author is willing to endure traditional industry rejections before they will self-publish.
    (In the near future) the majority of authors will be likely to e-publish their manuscripts immediately after the traditional publishing industry’s first rejection. Revisions of manuscripts just to fit the ever-changing whims of agents and traditional publishing will increasingly be seen as a waste of time and effort.
    The traditional industry still thinks they’re hot stuff because authors are still submitting manuscripts to them first, before they “give up” and self-publish. The question is, for how long will this state of affairs continue?
    My crystal ball says at least one of the “Big Six” will be gone in the next five years (dead, or bought out by Amazon-Apple-Microsoft). And a lot of their authors’ rights will go into limbo. 👿

  195. avatar
    Christina Croft says:

    Absolutely brilliant! I couldn’t agree with you more!! After years of lost manuscripts, being kept waiting for months for a response, priomises of publication that never materialised (while my book was kept on-hold), my work apparently being handed over to an in-house writer while I was told my manuscript was lost, being told ‘no one wants historical fiction anymore’ or ‘there is insufficient scandal in your book to appeal to readers’ (???) I discovered the brilliance, politeness and fairness of Amazon!
    Who needs some junior editor fresh from school to tell a writer what s/he should and shouldn’t write and what will sell? Put your books out there and if they are worth reading, the readers will come!
    Wonderful article! Thank you!

  196. avatar
    Thomas Quinlin says:

    I read Jessica’s comments with great interest. I have been working with a marketing person to get my book published for now over a year. Our strategy was to use Kindle. While I have felt frustrated about the long lag times to get the book out through Kindle, I have also found that using Kindle requires a genuine growth curve. My question to all of you and Jessica is whether there are cost effective ways for me to take this project over myself and get it done?

    Any and all comments welcomed.


    • avatar
      Cheryl Colwell says:

      Hi Thomas,
      Have you gotten any information back that is helpful? After similar comments that Jessica encountered, I created my own publishing company and self-published my ebook through Smashwords. Now, I understand that Lightning Source is a better idea and they will also do POD books at an affordable price. Any suggestions?

      • avatar
        Anne Alexander says:

        Purple Plum Press uses LightningSource, which is a great company. They are who most of the self publishing companies use. Just be careful to avoid the ripoff companies who charge you way too much for the books, even if set up fees *may* be low (usually you get upsold and pay a lot in set up fees, too. There are still many people who like a printed book, but for ebooks, Kindle/Amazon rocks.

    • avatar
      Anthea Lawson says:

      There should not be lag times at all for publishing yourself to Kindle, using Amazon’s KDP platform. It sounds like your marketing person may not know what they are doing?

  197. avatar
    Rochelle says:

    I love what you have to say. I have been reviewing books for newspapers for years, and even had my own ‘zine a few years back. I think self-publishing is a shot in the arm to the industry. However, no one seems to hire an editor and any old thing gets published, regardless of merit. And even if you put merit aside, the lack of editng for grammar (not content) makes me crazy. This aspect of self-publishing REALLY needs to be addressed.

  198. avatar
    Elizabeth West says:

    I’ve been trying to avoid self publishing. I knew the money wasn’t there with the big boys, but I wanted the validation. Times are changing, and I’m now starting to approach the edge of the outside of considering it. But the bottom line is, self-publishing takes money and I don’t have any. ANY.


    • avatar
      Francis Perry says:

      I can’t see that self-publishing (as with Kindle) takes money, Elizabeth. You can upload a Word file directly into Kindle and it can be on sale in a day. No cost (certain limitations on fonts and the like, but easily arranged as per requirements). The ePub formats for readers like Kobo are difficult, and I haven’t found Kobo offers any assistance other than to point out that there are affiliates who will convert files for you, so I went with for sites like that… they do all conversions, no cost to you (lacks the DRM protection, a policy of Smashwords, but my son, more computer geek than I, assures me that if someone really wants to take your book to another format, the DRM will not stop them. DRM security is like padlocks– keeps out the honest people. Good luck.

    • avatar
      Kevin says:

      I use to think the same thing. “Gee, I want to get on board this self-publishing thing, but I don’t have money for marketing or cover design.” Now I’m publishing my story as a serial on an upcoming website. The fact is, with the advent of e-readers, even self publishing will have soon competitive models. You just have to be patient. 🙂

    • avatar
      Anthea Lawson says:

      Create your document in word and upload it straight to Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords (who will distribute to Apple, Sony, Kobo, etc.)

      Use powerpoint or the free graphics program GIMP to create your cover. Use public domain art, or pay a license fee of $3-6 per image to a stock photo site. Or pay a cover designer anywhere from 40-120$ for a cover.

      Cost is not an excuse, you can do it for free – or spend up to $100, your choice… Just take the plunge!~

  199. avatar
    Nuala Reilly says:

    THANK YOU! I sometimes actually really second guess my decision to self publish after my very small (but awesome) publishing house closed. I’m doing everything on my own terms now and well, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Of course there are days when I still wish I was with a publisher, but hey, this article was an eyeopener (or at least firm reminder) that I don’t *need* one to be happy. I have three books out now, and getting ready to soon put out a fourth, and I’m doing it all on my own.
    It’s pretty great, actually.

  200. avatar
    Rachael Allen says:

    Very interesting post, Jessica. While I don’t share all of your opinions on traditional pubs, I can definitely see where you’re coming from and I think you made smart decisions for you and your books. I’m glad you didn’t give up and took the risk of trying something new because now we get to read them 🙂

  201. avatar
    BoarerPitchford says:

    Hi Jessica,

    You are saying in this blog what authors around the world have been feeling for some time now. I too did the traditional publishing rout. I dropped out of the scene to do two writing projects. In that time my publisher went out of business, and I found myself beating the bricks again to find an agent and publisher. Rejection after rejection fell upon me, and for some years I just fell back into the shadows, felt worthless, and reworked my projects. I found much support on the Absolute Write Water Cooler, and worked through my depression. Then I found Amazon KDP, and like you felt that self-publishing was a sign of defeat – that only those who have crappy works do the “vanity press”. How wrong I was.

    I finally gave in. I rethought the whole model of writing, publishing, and marketing. I took it upon myself to do all the parts, and enlisted some friends to help along the way. March 1, 2012 I went live with one novel and a set of five serial short stories on the Amazon site. Response was slow, but is picking up speed. As the song says, “I was blind, but now I see…”, I now see the value of control over one’s product.

    I agree that it makes little sense to go with a large publishing house now days. In days coming to pass, the agent serves no purpose either. As long as one can have a clean and well edited/formatted book with an exciting or intriguing cover to offer, the author can do it all himself or herself. The only thing that I will add is that in the old days, the publisher did spend some money to market – now it’s all me. So, with the added autonomy comes the added risk. No worries – I love to write, and even if I made no money, I’d still be writing stories.

    God speed you in your career, and you have both my admiration and supportive thoughts.

    Lawrence BoarerPitchford, Author
    The Lantern of Dern Blackhammer
    In the World of Hyboria, Series A & B

    • avatar
      Daven Anderson says:

      In days coming to pass, the agent serves no purpose either.
      Some agencies are now representing self-published authors who do not wish to traditionally publish (and yes, I am very familiar with one such agency).
      They provide publicity, editing and cover art services (among others) for their authors.
      Since the traditional industry no longer provides publicity for their authors, the agencies following this new business model can step right in and fill that void.

  202. avatar
    Carol Newman says:

    Thanks for the validation! I don’t WANT to beg publishers who tell me they won’t read my book unless I have a pitch down that compares my book to an already successful one. They have no idea what people want and go for the sure thing in my genre, celebrities. As people have said, it costs no money to publish on Kindle ( and I paid $35 to self-publish a hard copy print-on-demand on Amazon ( When I had a technical problem, I posted it on the message board, and within a day, someone wrote with complete instructions. My Kindle version is more error free and neatly formatted than stories backed by a publisher. How can that be? It seems to me there was a time when publishing meant someone read your work and made it better.

  203. avatar
    Melanie Walsh says:

    Fabulous post, Jessica, and great insights into the world of publishing as it is today.

    We wish you every success. To everyone else who has commented below, follow your dream – really, there are no subjective hurdles any more. Cost is also no longer an issue – you can launch your writing career and all it will cost is your time and passion.

    Director, Membership Services
    Association of Independent Authors

  204. avatar
    Collin says:

    Hey, Jessica. Found this article on the front page on Amazon last night and I really enjoyed your thoughts on the whole publishing business.

    I’m 18, and just recently started writing my first novel. I’m going to school for writing in the fall, and I’ve done some research about the traditional publishing industry the past few weeks. While it wasn’t enough to completely make me not want to write, I was off put by how unlikely it seemed that I’d ever get published in any decent amount of time/get paid a worthwhile amount.

    I hadn’t even thought about self-publishing until your article because it seemed an “easy way out” to just submit it onto Amazon. But now you’ve made me realize that I’d have to market myself about the same amount (since I’m a young, unknown writer) regardless of whether I’m self-published or traditional, and I’ll get my book out in no time at all once it’s done. If you don’t write for the readers, then why write at all anyway?

    That’s my big thing. Knowing that I can self-publish via Kindle (and other companies) makes me a whole lot more confident that I can write what I want to write, as well as focus on the quality of my works rather than worrying whether or not I’ll ever make it.

    Sure, I realize that I’ll still have to work my butt off to promote myself without the backing of a major publishing house, but it sounds like self-publishing would be a way more worthwhile choice to me. I aim to have my first novel available by the end of next summer.

    Thanks for the article,
    Collin 🙂

  205. avatar
    Spencer Allen says:

    The one thing to keep in mind for self-publishing is: marketing falls on you. Of course, as noted in the post, publishers do very little marketing for you unless you belong to the elusive top 1%. So, for us 99%ers, (hmm, where have I heard that before?) you’re going to have to market your book anyway. Here’ a quick publishing math lesson. My N.Y. Publisher hardcover book $24.95. I make on average $1.35. The same book, I self published on Amazon-Kindle – $3.99 and I make on average over 3 bucks a book. Go figure! I’m getting ready to publish my second book and guess what – I see more of a future with ditching the archaic past and going solely with Amazon-Kindle ebook self- publishing.

  206. avatar
    Talon says:

    I just recently finished my 1st novel, and it’s being edited currently. When people have asked me if I’m going to shop it to publishers, my main reason for not doing so is “I don’t want to give up control.” And after I’ve done ALL that work, why should I settle for a 10% royalty? No thanks. Great post.

  207. avatar
    Lori Leger says:

    AMEN….AMEN…AMEN SISTER! WHOOO HOOO, WHAT A FANTASTIC BLOG! I just published my fifth book in my La Fleur de Love series in less than a year! After nearly 5 years of writing till the wee hours of the morning and dreading going to my DAY job, self publishing allowed me to quit my job of 18 years and write full time. I am in Heaven! It’s tough to learn the ropes…at first it’s like riding a galloping horse blindfolded…but it gets easier. I’m still learning from others willing to share info, and I’m always sharing what I know with others.
    Thanks for sharing and good sales to you!

  208. avatar
    Michelle DePaepe says:

    It’s wonderful to hear a success story like this. It will give a lot of author’s hope. I know how hard it is to go down the long road of rejections from publishers when all you want to do is write and get your stories out there for people to read. I wouldn’t be published at all if it wasn’t for getting started on Amazon as an indie author (I have much gratitude for another indie author, Lauralynn Elliott, that helped to get me started). After self-publishing, I wasn’t seeking out traditional publishers, but one eventually found me after seeing my zombie novellas (the Eaters series) online. Now, I have a publishing deal and will continue to self-publish as well. Which will be more lucrative? Time will tell. For now, I’m happy that all writers have some options.

  209. avatar
    Ruthanne Reid says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’m in a position so similar – a book I know is good because agents have told me so, and yet won’t take it on for reasons like “it’s too unique.” I decided to go with self-pub, and it’s coming out in seven days.

    This article confirms everything I’ve come to see, especially, “I also, apparently, thought that I needed to be taken advantage of, paid inexcusably poorly, and chained to idiotic pricing and covers that I had no control over. I was, it seems, deluded.”

    Thank you!!

  210. avatar
    Gave me a boost says:

    I always wanted to publish a book. I’m a geek so all I really know to write about is from the technical world. I wrote a book and probably can’t even call it a book because it’s fairly short, very to the point, and doesn’t have all of the ‘rules’ that professionally published books seem to have. It’s a little discouraging, but when I see that I’ve sold a handful every month, it makes me want to try again and do better, so I am. When I read your roller coaster ride of an experience, it makes me want to keep on this journey and possibly spread out into other areas of writing fiction that I’ve imagined. My uncle passed away a couple of years ago, and I was able to publish his story on KDP and your talking about getting bloggers to write about your book peaked my interest. I haven’t sold any of his book yet because I don’t think people know what a great little story is in it. How do I find bloggers that will read “The Kiamichi Mail Boat ” and provide feedback on it? What do I do if they don’t like it? Thanks for writing your story on here, it is great to hear about people’s hard work paying off.

  211. avatar
    Caro Ayre says:

    Thank you for such a clear article on all the good points behind publishing with Amazon rather than with traditional publishers. All I need to do now is tackle the marketing side of things to get my book,Feast of the Antlion, selling or being borrowed. Congratulations on your sucesses.
    Caro Ayre

  212. avatar
    April Manns says:

    When we commissioned two British unknowns to create an old school horror, we had two publishers battling over publishing rights after the first draft was created. Then, we changed the woman into a 21 year-old girl, not for the publishers, but for the readers interest. The horror itself is conjurers up and manipulates your fear, that’s what it was written to do. Then the two publishers had fits and decided that the book would be too controversial – after all that and lots of edits and story cuts (important story threads i must add) the writers sacked the publishers and went the Amazon route. The book, Among the Fallen: Resurrection by Scott Beadle & Ross Shortall on Amazon, has become a hit, but my question is, would it have gone the same way if it was published traditionally – prob not! It’s the end of bricks & mortar publishing x

  213. avatar
    ramanrama says:

    Jessica, at last I found a friendship IN YOU! I wrote my first novel after the death of my wife some eight years ago. The title of the novel is SPIRIT OF LOVE and synopsis is in my blog.
    According to my editor, my book should sell well; I note from the publishers and Amazon that the sale is doing well. I tried a few publishers before having the story self published. My story was rejected. I thought I am 75 years of age and have little time for my life; why not self-publish the story. I am very happy that I had it published now.
    The Author House Publishers and Amazon are publicizing the book. I must say that the publishers are not helping me with distribution. The charge is very high if I were to hand over the publicity and distribution to them! I am a senior citizen who is struggling to survive on pension.
    I loved reading your article, Thanks. Regards.

  214. avatar
    Ken Dawson says:

    Awesome post!
    Likewise I’ve gone down this route and managed to self-publish a couple of thousand paperbacks as well as a kindle version. If I can do it, anyone can!
    It’s about time hardworking authors knocked these unscrupulous publishers from their pedestal.
    Well done and congrats with your success. I hope I can follow! 😀

    • avatar
      j brooke says:

      Exactly, recently read j brooke’s “Sexual Perimiters” a stunning and savage book that was an indy published book with great success. The writing is on the wall. .

  215. avatar
    Heide Katros says:

    I love Amazon. I have been published by small presses and though the large NY publishers ignored my novels, they liked the reviews I did for their books. Self-publishing through Amazon gave me enormous satisfaction, because I can write from the heart and choose my own cover art, and through Amazon I’ve collected a wonderful following. I am proud of the fact that English was not my first language, but I have written 22 full length novels in the past 18 years and 2 short stories and had a column with my own by-line for several years.

    • avatar
      Amy Edelman says:

      Well, you could sign-up for the IndieReader Discovery Awards (IRDAs). We offer guaranteed reviews (alas, not guaranteed good reviews), along with a lot of attention for the winners.

  216. avatar
    Eliseo Mauas Pinto says:

    From my own experience, there is not a definite clue to be a successful indie author…I don’t have all the answers to my questions but I find myself thinking about them more and more In between tweets, blog posts and facebook
    updates, I guess the more you write and create and interact, the more you get exposed…and I certainly agree with you that Amazon is an awesome virtual window to countless customers!… I am a newbie intending to leave my mark, hope my works shall be inspirational to others….

    Congratz and keep up the good work ♥
    a href=””>Celtic Sprite

  217. avatar
    Kate Worth says:

    I loved your post so much that I emailed a link to all my writing buddies and I added a link to it on my blog which, coincidentally, addressed a similar theme to yours. I self-published my book The Promise on Amazon this week. Facing down other people’s misperceptions/biases has been the toughest part of going indie.
    Kate Worth

  218. avatar
    Ken Green says:

    Hi Jessica,
    Here is a tip for all your cancer ward readers: ‘Give up dairy foods, dose yourselves with 4 000 i.u. vitamin D3 (equivalent to a decent daily dose of sunshine) daily, and get free of the cancer ward!’
    Then, while you’re relaxing in the sunshine, read my little Kindle book: Super Sex at Sixty, Naturally. Its good for any age actually, and the health advice is preventative of a myriad of ills.

  219. avatar
    Doug Dandridge says:

    Great post and very uplifting. I have been trying for 14 years to get a traditional publishing contract for the science fiction and fantasy I write. Close but no cigar, have gotten responses from publishers and agents that compliment my settings, my characters, my stories, and then till me that it is not for their market. That’s when I don’t get one of the famous “not for me, thanks for the look” responses that basically tell me they didn’t look at anything. I am now writing for self pub, not having to jump through all the formatting hoops that seem to change from agent to agent. Your post was very inspiring to someone in for the long haul, and still sometimes depressed due to things not taking off fast enough. Thank you.

  220. avatar
    Ken says:

    Can I publish my ebook on both Amazon and Smashwords or is this not allowed? Any advice on pros and cons of each would be appreciated.

    • avatar
      Aabra says:

      Of course you can self-publish on both Amazon and Smashwords at the same time. Six of my books are on both sites. The last one is on Kindle alone. Neither site requires exclusivity. Go for it!

    • avatar
      A.Beth says:

      Note that there are two ways to publish on Amazon — one way, Kindle Select — has to be exclusive to Amazon. The other way does not have to be exclusive.

  221. avatar
    Conny Manero says:

    Self-publishing might have worked for you Jessica, but for hundreds (maybe thousands) of others, it doesn’t. All the replies you got to this post are from writers who are “so happy that you tell it like it is”, but do you? You say that you sold 45,000 Kindle copies and another 10,000 the next month … I wonder how you did that. Maybe you have a publicist who handles the marketing side of your books? I would be really interested in learning that. If you handle the publicity side yourself, where do you find time to write?
    You see, I have three self-published books too and they don’t do anything. Why? Because nobody knows about them.
    Those who read my two novels loved the stories, but they don’t get enough exposure to really make a difference. Family, friends, colleagues and the occasional Facebook member bought a copy, but that’s where it ended. If I sold 50 copies it was a lot.
    I don’t have the financial resources to pump into a marketing campaign and neither do I have the time to arrange book signings. I have a full time job which limits my time.
    So excuse me if I’m a little skeptical about self-publishing and all the positive comments you received. Maybe those who are so positive haven’t self-published yet and are yet to learn how hard it is to get a book noticed. It might have worked for you, but for so many others, it doesn’t.

    • avatar
      deborah palumbo says:

      Dear Conny

      I feel your pain! It sometimes feels like a dream that will never come true, but life’s first rule is to persevere. Yuck! That’s a word I don’t even like- perseverance; it’s the hardest thing to do especially when the rejections come at ya from all directions. I know it slices like a knife; in fact, I felt so sliced up that I haven’t sent out a manuscript since 2000. But I keep writing and hoping and praying and recently, self publishing!
      We have to keep hoping that someday we’ll be as fortunate as Jessica and the others.

      Hey. Here’s a little inspiration for you, for us all. Did you know that Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job because they said he lacked imagination and had no good ideas? Yeah, Walt Disney; one of the most creative and imaginative people in the world. Thank God he didn’t give up. Just do a google search and you’ll see just how many successful people were rejected, Lucille Ball; imagine that! Before her role on I love Lucy she was considered a pretty lowly “B” actress; Elvis, Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers. The list goes on and on. If not for their sheer determination and perseverance, the world would have missed out on some pretty fantastic people! Maybe you’re one of them.

      Now here’s where I have a difficult time cause I’m about to talk about myself. I always wanted to write since I was just a kid, but it took a devastating turn of events to get me writing. I developed a chronic illness years and years ago; too many to even mention, but I was bedridden and then house bound, during which time, I wrote my first novel.

      And then my second and third and fourth and fifth. And now I have twelve; 5 of which are self published on Amazon. I wrote one screenplay based on one of my novels, and co wrote a screenplay with acclaimed actor writer Jordan Rhodes.

      What does it all mean?

      I’m glad to have done it; it’s part of my soul; it’s like breathing, but if I can’t please the readers, I feel like a failure.
      Still I hope.
      Still I try!
      Best of luck to you and every one of us who keeps trying. Remember, with God all things are possible.

    • avatar
      Wesley Playcool says:

      Hey Conny Manero. If you want it, fight for it. If you want to be the shy writer who doesnt want to try and sell there work then thats on you. I have pre orders for my first book just through networking. If you want your book to sell you have to push it. I know its difficult to understand vocal tone in an email, but this isn’t an attack. I have bee a musician for years and I had to do the same thing. Keep pushing and when ever you go out drop a card or talk to someone about you being a write. Small book stores will let self published writers set up tables and sign or read chapters. Maybe get a few others in your area and push as a team.

      Keep on keepin on!

      Keep writing!

    • avatar
      Arik Schenkler says:

      Conny shalom,

      You are right.
      Self publishing has its problems – the main being the need to self publish.

      I surely don’t know, but I believe that the first important thing is that you believe in your book.
      This is tough because I know for myself there are days that I think my books are not good. Days that I think my books are great.

      If you believe in your books than you can self market them. You are doing a good thing since you deliver quality to people around.

      Market as Jessica tells us to bloggers.

      Another thing that I see a lot is the saying that “Indie authors are writing for our readers”.
      If that was correct you would not sell one ebook.
      You never write a book for your readers. You write a book in which you tell a story YOU care about.

      to laugh a lot

    • avatar
      Jessica Park says:

      Self-publishing does not guarantee success; I never said it did. Going through a legacy publisher doesn’t guarantee success either. BUT self-publishing is now a very viable option. It’s hard. Being a writer is hard even with a legacy publisher behind you.

      I said in my article that Amazon listed my book as one of 100 books for $3.99 and under, and that’s why I sold so much that month. They can offer visibility that no one else can. It’s out of my control whether or not they do that, but it can happen.

      I have spent virtually nothing on a marketing campaign, nor have I ever done book signings.

      I never promised success to anyone, but I tried to pass on hope. That’s it.

  222. avatar
    Lorraine Devon Wilke says:


    After my gazillionth agency rejection form letter came today, I sagged on the couch and felt, once again, that the message was that my book was not worthy. But, like you, I KNEW “I’d written a book with humor, heart, and meaning. I’d written something that had potential to connect with an audience,” and whatever reason it (or rather, my fabulous, perfectly formatted and industry standard query letter) was being rejected had nothing to do with the value or merit of my work, but with the….industry. The crazy, confused, stymied, constipated, very unwelcoming industry.

    Like you, I’ve written a LOT. Eight screenplays, one produced feature, several screenplay awards, a regular column at Huff Po, my own blog, articles all over the place, stage plays, blah, blah, blah, and I know I’ve got chops. I’ve also got a really good book, with a tremendous inherent message built into a story that is relevant, funny, thought-provoking and unique and no matter how many bland agent letters tell me “unfortunately, your project is not a good fit for us at this time,” I know it’s not about my book. It’s about whatever the hell is going on with their vision of what they can sell. If they can’t sell my completely accessible book that would appeal to countless people, well, then….I dunno.

    However, as someone who’s self-marketing and promoting like mad for my blog, my articles, my work at Huff Po, my other artistic projects, I’ve felt a weariness about the idea of, once again, being the only person working for me in getting my work OUT. Self-publishing a book, as you describe it, is doable, but there are SO many of us out there, the endless need to break out of the pack in some meaningful way becomes…challenging; as I work my magic to the degree I can with other stuff, I wonder if I have the energy to take on yet another DIY art+commerce project: the self-pubbing my book.

    Then I got that gazillionth agency rejection letter today and, again like you, got mad. Really effing pissed off at the bland, dismissive, clearly uninterested and likely with very little consideration of my actual piece of work. So I don’t want to read snarky little agency Tweets about us silly authors “doing it wrong.” I don’t want to read the agency descriptions of “what we’re looking for” – which sound EXACTLY like my book – then hear how my book (or my query letter, since they didn’t even get to my actual book!) “is not right.” I don’t want bullshit comments about demographics and categories and genres as a reason to reject. I am profoundly weary of the endless and ridiculous discussions/classes/workshops/critique sessions for QUERY LETTERS – query letters, mind you! – as if using the exact proper format for a damn letter has any damn thing to do with the brilliance of a writer’s book!! I’m sick of the gatekeepers keeping most of us from getting our work through the gates much less to the readers.

    So your article was uplifting to me today. I’ve put my wonderful book through the ringer with countless readers, several editors, many rewrites and endless polishing, and know that it’s a good book that deserves to see the light of day. I hope I can shake off my resistance and weariness surrounding the endless self-marketing and promotion demands that go along with self-pubbing but, at this point, you’ve enlivened me enough to start researching it again.

    I’m thrilled for your success, I share your various attitudes about writing (how often, how many books a year, etc.) and really appreciate your positive but very candid attitude. You helped untie the knot in my stomach this morning. Now let’s see what I can do with that! 🙂

    Lorraine Devon Wilke

    • avatar
      A.Beth says:

      I’m not sure that self-marketing is endless, with self-pubbing. Yes, it’s helpful, but in the various blogs I read (which is how I found this post… *waves*), there’s one meme (attributed fairly to Kris Rusch and spouse) of: “Write the next book.”

      I don’t think that’s wrong… I’ve got a duology up, and while I go twitch at Amazon a fair amount, they are at the top of the heap because they are excellent in being “book enablers.” Their Also-Boughts, the “recommended for you” suggestions…

      I’m not making any thousands-of-sales-a-month, nor even hundreds… But when my book crosslinked into the Also-Boughts of other books, I noticed a distinct (and so far, continuing) uptick in sales. What have I done for promotion? A review at Dear Author (I got a C! Best. C. Ever.), and a bunch of free Project Wonderful ads. (And because I don’t spend any money on them, they stay up for 2 days only and frequently get outbid; I often just can’t get American views on popular sites, and count myself lucky to get Canadian views or European views!)

      Again semi-quoting Kris Rusch, an indie author is in it for the long tail. A traditional publisher gives an up-front (sort of…) payment, and the book will only be on shelves for a limited time. Self-publishing gives zip-all up front, but the book will be there forever, waiting for readers to discover it.

      In the meantime, the more stuff you have up, the more chances that someone will get linked to one of your works, and check out More By Same Author.

      Yes, you can bust your tail marketing your stuff, but it doesn’t have to be a continual thing. Don’t be weary! Get it up, give it a push… and see how far it’ll fly on momentum alone.

  223. avatar
    LK Watts says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Love your story. You’re just another person who has done so well with Amazon. I’m going to release my second book in the near future and I’m hoping my success will continue to grow. Unlike you I have never been down the traditionally published route but that was completely my choice. After doing so much research on the indie publishing route I decided I was going to start off there instead of querying agents and publishers for evermore with probably little success. Congratulations once again. Your story is inspiring.

  224. avatar
    David Rozansky says:

    I have been a professional writer since 1988. Mostly, I made a living as a magazine article writer and marketing writer. Eventually, I moved up as editor through a trade newspaper, and eventually began publishing magazines.

    I have seen the New York publishing establishment treat writers with the disrespect you talk about. It is why I started up my own book publishing company, Flying Pen Press, as a way of “doing it right” and treating writers with the respect they deserve.

    However, I often recommend to writers that they self-publish, to keep the control, the profits and to avoid the delays in getting their work out to readers. It is probably rather self-defeating advice, as it doesn’t help me attract writers willing to give me a goodly share of their profits. But I am a writer first, and I believe in giving my fellow writers the best advice I can give them for success. I was homeless when I first started writing professionally., and freelance writing saved my life. I often surprised most all of my editors as I sent them a contract rather than waiting for them to send a boilerplate.

    My experiences in the “shoestring-startup” publishing world gives me a unique insight into the world of book publishing. I have an uncanny knack of seeing future trends in the industry, and the trend I see now is that the simplicity and profitability of author-published books undercutting the agent-publisher paradigm.

    So, I feel the next step for me and my business is to not focus so much on “finding authors to publish,” but rather to get into consulting and management for more authors. I use the term “Author’s Business Manager,” and I have put myself out there as someone who can help manage the business end of being a writer. One of the services I offer is to manage author-owned publishing companies. One of the things that deters many authors from going solo is that there is a lot of business: marketing, accounting, rights management, production, and the like. Hopefully, in the end, I can give authors more of the time they need to do what they love–writing–while leaving much of the drudgery to someone experienced in the trade, without having to sacrifice control or bear up under the insane decisions of haughty editors, agents and executives.

    Thank you for the heartfelt, enthusiastic, spot-on article.

    –David Rozansky
    Professional Writer,
    Publisher of Flying Pen Press,
    and Author’s Business Manager

  225. avatar
    Deb says:

    ‘They read for the content, not the publishing house emblem.’ Spot on, Jessica! readers don’t care whether you’ve been published with one of the big commercial publishers or not. They care about the quality of writing and a good story. Well done you!

  226. avatar
    Jessica says:

    Hi Jessica, That was such a thorough and convincing post that I shared it on my blog. I am a member of a writers group that has self-published very successfully. We have three mystery writers, me (a hybrid of literary and crime), a fantasy writer and a pop culture writer.Two of our most prolific writers make four figures a month after having been rejected by the large publishers for years. Another has two books, both traditioanlly published by a medium size publisher but he does all his own publicity and is taking a good and hard look at the other two. I am in process as i explain on my blogpost.
    So now the mystery of why no one is allowed to be 19 or 22 has been explained. Thank you for that, it puts it all into perspective!

    • avatar
      Katherine Valentine says:

      Hi Jessica:

      I was blown away when your article that magically appeared through my kindle/author account. I began my writing career in 1999 with Penguin followed by Doubleday. Amy Berkower of Writer’s House was my agent. As you so succinctly stated, I was immediately pigeonholed as an ‘inspirational/serial writer but after 6 ‘Dorsetville’ books, I could no longer type with hand and hold my nose with the others, so I broke from the mold with “The Haunted Rectory.’ a fun, filled, scary story of a group of ‘hookers’ (rug-hookers) and a new parish priest who are involved in an Exorcism. Doubleday squashed the book. Only ran 6000 copies. And since I refused to go back to Dorsetville my career ended. Basically, I was branded as a one-genre writer. Suddenly, nothing I proposed was accepted. My writing career languished. I finally left Writer’s House in 2010.

      Recently, I discovered e-books and I’m in the process of writing again. Not what others think I should write, but what I feel in my soul that I wish to write. The love of writing has returned and drives me to my computer each morning to watch stories unfold as if by magic. I have a professional editor on board and a wonderful person who formats my books. I’m in heaven. Finally, I’m in control of my destiny.

      Recently, I was approached by an e-book publisher who has been hot on my tail to publish my newest book, “Sweet Dreams’. I was almost tempted to go that route since they promised to promote my book, something I’d love to give over to someone else. I just want to write. Then your article came along and I thought, no, I’ve already danced to that tune. So thank you, for giving me the courage to go out on my own and simply trust my craft.

      (Oh…and you’re right on about the inaccessibility of agents during the summer–Hampton vacations and holidays (skiing in Aspen). About publishers providing a six figure advance and not spending a dime on marketing; and about writers having no say in book jackets (the Haunted Rectory jacket was originally a ball of yarn in a basket with knitting needles…apparently the artist never took the time to read the book!) and all the rest you stated.

      I wish you the greatest success in your writing endeavors and thanks for the inspirational message.

      Katherine Valentine

      • avatar
        Jessica Park says:

        Thank you for sharing your story, Katherine, and I’m happy that you are still writing after that rather rocky time.

  227. avatar
    Joe Olivares says:

    I am pushing 80 and decided a few years ago to try writing. It took most of those years just learningg how. I’ve publishe my first, “Ring-A-Ring”, on kindle two months ago, and know I need to promote it. Like you, I gave up on attempting to go through an agent. Thanks to your encouraging article, I’m more than convinced, I’d made the right choice. I’ve made a few shekels to date, and feel confident I’ll make a few more, with a little more work on promotion. Problem is, I’m also involverd in portraitature and trying to finish two more books for a base, well, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.
    I’m sure you know something of that – J

  228. avatar
    Maureen Hunter says:

    Jessica thanks so much for a great article. I’ve always loved writing and had dreams of meeting with publishers to talk about book proposals etc!!! Reality check!! Your article has reinforced what I have believed for a long time – self publishing is the way to go, i now have my sights firmly set on Amazon and Smashwords. If you have any tips on pricing for ebooks I would appreciate your input.

  229. avatar
    SSpjut says:

    What a cathargic word. It’s inspiring to read about authors courageous enough to not only employ hand and smoke signals in defiance of archaic traditions, but to put it in print and raise up the flag of rebellion. I’ve read a lot of stuff about the pros and cons of traditional publishing vs. indie|self publishing, but your the first one that flat out didn’t sugar coat anything. Love it. Totally refreshing. Thanks for having the guts to put it out there and lead the way.

  230. avatar
    Tom Hardin says:

    Jessica… “Thank you” is inadequate to express my gratitude for your post. I’m on the brink of self-publishing with Amazon and am tremendously excited. After 18 months of sending out queries to potential agents and a few small press editors, I have nothing to show for it but 60 rejections. Nowadays so many agents tell you on their web site that if you don’t receive a reply in a certain number of weeks, it means they aren’t interested. I just hope, when my book makes it big through Amazon, that one of them will contact me with an offer. My southern manners may slip a bit in my reply. Continued success with your work. And watch for “The Kingdom” by Tom Hardin.

  231. avatar
    Liz says:

    I’m not a writer but a reader. I find that much of the books put out by big publishing houses, just do nothing for me. Sometimes, they are so badly written that they make me cringe. They might tick the boxes for the marketing department but they can be bad enough to be comical while being listed as ‘best sellers’! Now I know where to look for my next good read! Many thanks!

  232. avatar
    Jay says:

    Hi Jessica!

    Your article was one of my big motivators as I’ve transitioned my mentality from the “I need a traditional publisher” to that of a writer/entrepreneur. I like the feeling, I have to say. And the more research I do on indie publishing, the more I’m convinced of is absolute and alluring legitimacy as a real, viable choice.

    I’m now researching the specifics of getting my book — it’s cross-cultural YA literary fiction (I know, not the easiest sell) — to readers via ebook and POD options. And I’d love to know if — when you went with Create Space — you went with any of their in-house services? Did you use their designers and formatting specialists? How about editing? I’m just trying to weigh the costs against the benefits. Also, royalties? What kind of royalty arrangement did Create Space offer you?

    I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work to promote my work — reaching out to bloggers, reviewers and playing the whole social media card. But I do appreciate the independence of indie publishing. In my case, I have a book that was well received by a slew of agents — lots of manuscript requests and good feedback — but not one bite. They thought it was a strong piece of work but not something they could sell to a publisher. So here I am, trying to take my book’s destiny into my own hands.

    Thanks again, Jessica. I hope you’ll get a chance to respond.

    All the best,

  233. avatar
    Alyscia says:

    Wonderful article. I’m a photographer and self published author or FEMININE TRANSITONS. I really don’t have any doubts of self-publishing. I knew it was for me and this article most definitely confirmed it. Thank you!

  234. avatar
    liz says:

    what a great article. You validate what I think I’ve known all along!!!! You give me more reason to sit down and write each day….I can’t take the world of agents and publishers anymore……it’s like swimming in murky waters. I choose the cool, clean spring…thanks!

  235. avatar
    Lachlan Gunn says:

    Jessica thanks for a great and inspiring article. I’m a UK-based Indie Author. My first novel ‘MERDEKA’ was not taken up by the industry because it was deemed to be niche historical fiction with no mass appeal (it is set in Malaya in 1957). Both Amazon and Facebook (targeted ads for a reasonable cost) have been fantastic in helping me to publicise and sell it. While the sales numbers are not yet in your league, the eBook is doing well on Amazon’z UK site – and has been well reviewed by customers and professionals. I love the feeling of being at the cutting edge of a revolution in publishing, and of letting the readers decide what they want to read without the filter of literary agents and print publishing houses. Now working on a novel set in Malaya/Singapore during WW2…….

  236. avatar
    Pl says:

    With electronic self publishing you are putting authors of your generation into a corner. One day, you will have no option but to give away your work for practically no money to one or two monopolies that will sell reading devices and $10 per month all you can read services. In such an environment only a handful of authors will survive. Might sound great for someone that had no real future in writing anyway and 10 unsold novels in his drawers gathering dust, but some people value their work and their art. These people are amazed at how simple it was for amazon to push their plan with the help of the victims, the writers. Amazon knew you were desperate enough to sell your novel for $1 and they also knew you would provide reading rights for free on their programs.

  237. avatar
    issac says:

    1. Self publish if you can write–well.
    2. 99.9 % of you can’t write well.
    3. Sorry, to ruin some self proclaimed ” Authors”, but I have an old girlfriend who works for a “Self- Publisher”.
    4. Her company takes “Writers” money, but that’s where it ends.
    5. There’s a reason it’s called The Vanity Press.

  238. avatar
    Miriam Yvette says:

    I was just publishing my blog on why I wanted to self publish. While I was looking for possible self-publishing companies I found your article I was inspired. I feel more confident on my stand to self publish!
    Awesome job!! Keep it up!!

  239. avatar
    Francine Fuqua says:

    Self-published In Pursuit of Abraham with an expensive IUniverse package. They have done nothing for me. I have very good reviews on It has been two years,can I pull my book away from Iuniverse and re-publish with KDP?
    Will they help me with Ebook formatting, etc? Working on a sequel and will go the Amazon route for sure. Thanks for any help you may give me.

  240. avatar
    Patrick Park-Tighe says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Thanks for this inspiring and very necessary post. With publishing going through a revolution, opinions about the future of the industry are fierce. And because of this upheaval, the self publishing movement has inspired incredible scrutiny and more often than not, criticism leveled at emerging writers. If I had to guess I’d suspect that most of the unhappy voices belong to people or agencies seeing their bottom line threatened. Mess with the profitable status quo and feathers get ruffled.
    I say it’s time for change. Anyone that approaches their writing with dedication, respect and an appreciation of the craft, deserves their chance to connect with an audience. If hard work and talent can bring success without reliance on an outdated, myopic publishing industry—then that’s an exciting future writers and readers alike can look forward to.

  241. avatar
    Mary Pat Hyland says:

    Loved this essay, Jessica. I’ve been self-publishing all the way but have a friend who went the traditional route. What you say about having to do most of your own publicity if you’re not an A-list author is exactly what she’s experienced, to her dismay.
    The point you make about self-publishing that I love is the fact that if you want to write in a different genre, you can. I’ve gone from mainstream/chick lit to suspense to my latest, a family saga. I’m sure a publishing house would not approve of that sort of “market positioning.”
    The truth is we are storytellers, not machines. We should be able to use our skills creatively and push the limits of our ideas in whatever direction they take us. That is one of the best parts of being a writer.

  242. avatar
    La La in the LiBrArY says:

    Let’s try that again. Strange, because a friend of mine, who is a syndicated columnist, was only going to get about a penny profit for the sale of each book, through Amazon. He still self published, but went a different route. Maybe you should write another post explaining how you got a good deal when most people don’t.

  243. avatar
    nasume says:

    This is ironic because a lot of indies stopped singing Amazon’s praises a couple days ago when they found out Kindle Unlimited forces you to exclusivity. if you don’t agree you’ll likely not earn much in sales on books that are published elsewhere. Why would Amazon shoppers pay for your books when they get an unlimited amount of books for free? In two days they wiped out tons of indies who aren’t selling because they refused to join KDPSelect. Writers who did join are paid out of one pot divided by all. As writers flood KU because they have no other choice-Well, the more people being fed out of the pot, the less stew to go around. Meanwhile, the competition takes a big hit with all the writers going exclusive to Amazon.


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