My Self Publishing Journey
In case you don't already know, my name is Theresa Sopko and I am an indie author of four books. I didn't always intend to self publish-I bought into the same notions that kept me from deciding to become a writer in the first place for so long, notions I will address on this blog-but have since grown extremely fond of self publishing.
Over three years ago, I began writing my first novel, Bewilderments of the Eyes. When I had a completed manuscript, I began querying to literary agents. This means that I wrote a concise but gripping blurb about my book and why I thought it should be published and emailed it to as many literary agents as I could. Between sending out queries and waiting for responses, I let this process go on for a year. And, every single response that I received from the agents that I queried (and quite a few did not respond at all which, unfortunately, is very common) were rejections. All except one-and it was that one that ultimately led to my decision to self publish.
Before I go on, I will say that from the beginning I was very aware of how little I knew about the publishing industry. I had absolutely no knowledge or experience. I researched the submission and book deal process when I reached the querying stage, but was still conscious of the fact that an agent or publisher could say anything and I'd really have no reason not to believe them. I wanted to be very careful about getting taken advantage of.
Anyway, the submission requirements for that particular agent were a query letter, synopsis, and first chapter, which I sent. Upon receiving my submission this agent asked me to send over the full manuscript. You can imagine my disbelief and excitement. Someone was finally taking a chance on me! Those days I was checking my inbox religiously, so I sent over the full manuscript right away. And then I didn't breathe for the next six weeks, which was the recommended wait time before following up. Six weeks later, I followed up.
The agent's assistant responded, claiming that her boss was still reading. That same day, the agent herself also responded to my email saying that she was very sorry but she had lost my manuscript and could I please send it again. Uh...huh?
At this point, my nerves were kicking in. The disorganization and lack of communication between the agent and her assistant were unsettling. I even had a moment of crazed panic where I was sure she hadn't really lost my manuscript, but had stolen it to claim as her own.
Skepticism was brewing.
But, who was I to call it quits just then? I was brand new, and desperate to get my book out into the world. Everyone makes mistakes, things get lost in the shuffle. Shit happens.
So I re-sent the full manuscript. Another six weeks go by. I follow up. The agent responds that she is still reading and thoroughly enjoying my story. The next day, she passed on it.
Of course it was super disappointing to get another rejection, but I was more frustrated at having been jerked around. So that day, with other query letters still out there, I decided to take matters into my own hands and self publish. And it was the best decision I could have made for me and my book. Not only has my knowledge and skill in the industry grown immensely-I have formatted and designed the interiors of three of my books, designed the covers of two, upped my marketing game, and so much more-but my confidence and assurance in my writing has developed as well. It's easier to own your work when one of the big 5 publishers is giving you the validation of wanting to take you on as an author. This is not to say that I am against traditional publishing-I'm not. If I were ever to be offered a book deal I'd seriously consider taking it, were it the right situation for me and my work. But it is a lot more difficult to say, "I'm going to do it anyway. I'm going to put myself out there, share my work, and prove why it should be read". I struggled with that for a long time. I still do.
My hope for this blog is to help as many people realize that they can self publish and have the best indie experience as possible. I’ve made many, many mistakes throughout my own journey, but deciding to self publish has not been one of them.
Happy writing! xx