And Now For Something Completely Different

laineyfinalI’ve been thinking about the pros and cons of self-publishing for a long time.  When it comes to traditional publishers, I’ve worked with some of the best. They’ve done more for my books than I could ever do on my own.  They’ve edited, they’ve promoted, they’ve distributed. Sure, there’ve been glitches (and times when I wondered what kind of rabbit hole I’d fallen into) but show me an endeavor without glitches and I’ll show you a fairy tale.

So the idea of publishing a book on my own didn’t hold much appeal. I love the writing and the editorial process, but the business and promotional side of things? Not so much. And I knew if I ventured down the self-publishing highway, I’d have to wear those hats occasionally.  Since I’m already wearing a few too many hats, it was an easy choice to say no.

But I had this book. Note the word ‘but.’  That but is a big but.  It’s the equivalent of a teenager saying ‘but it was just that one time’ or a confirmed bachelorette saying ‘but I met this guy.’   It’s a but that leads to change.

I first wrote WHAT LAINEY SEES years ago. It received very positive attention from a number of editors. One wanted to buy it and held onto the manuscript for a year only to be overruled by her publisher.  In the end, there were two main reasons he said no.

First, WHAT LAINEY SEES is a hybrid. It’s the kind of novel marketing departments don’t know what to do with. It’s a romance with suspense and paranormal elements. It’s both contemporary and historical. It’s not time travel, which is an established category, it’s more of a time slip novel, where two distinctly different story lines play out at the same time.  Time slip is a quirky, barely-there genre. Publishers prefer a sure thing over quirky, particularly from a mid-list author.

An even bigger hurdle had to do with Native Americans.  As the story unfolds, Lainey Hughes starts remembering life as a Native American woman living in the Pacific Northwest. She believes the memories from that life could stop a terrible tragedy from occurring today. But the one man who can help her is a man who doesn’t believe in her visions – the Native American lover who died in her arms centuries earlier.  Native Americans, I was told repeatedly, don’t sell.  One editor even went so far as to suggest I lose the Natives and use another culture, another time period (I think she suggested Scotland; Diana Gabaldon was big at the time).

I couldn’t – and didn’t – do that. The Native American element was intrinsic to the novel. So I put the novel aside for a number of years. But like a sliver that won’t go away, WHAT LAINEY SEES remained with me.  I wanted it published. I wanted people to read it.  So I took the manuscript back out, rewrote and updated where I needed to, and weighed my options.  Since I didn’t have the patience to listen to more editorial feedback about how I needed to replace the Native Americans with Vikings . . . or make the time slip less time slip and more time travel, I decided to publish it myself.

From the cover design process, to working with an editor followed by a formatter, it’s been quite a process. It’s given me even greater respect for traditional publishers. It’s opened my eyes to a world that’s not going away – direct, author-controlled publishing. And it’s made me grateful for the many friends and colleagues who traveled the road before me and were so willing to share their stories and expertise as I bumbled along.

Is self-publishing the future for me? It’s one probable future, but traditional publishing remains my future too.  I’m a hybrid . . . like WHAT LAINEY SEES.  It’s up on Amazon. If you have a minute, check it out:


4 thoughts on “And Now For Something Completely Different

  1. Good for you! So impressed and SO inspired! I loved reading about your journey to the decision to self-publish the book-of-your-heart and that you didn’t change something that meant so much to you – and the story. Can’t wait to buy a copy! Congratulations! Lisa

    1. Thanks, Lisa! Nothing about this writing business ever plays out the way we think it will, does it? But it’s fun to try something new!

  2. Interesting, Laura. I have been giving some thought to doing the same thing with an early reader for exactly the same reason. The book doesn’t fall neatly into any particular category. So far I’ve submitted it to 3 publishers. The first two took it to committee, but in the end declined, and the third I’m still waiting to hear from. The thing for me is because it’s for beginning readers, I might have to come up with some illustrations. Gulp. Good luck with WHAT LAINEY SEES.

    1. I hear you, Kristin. If you do decide to publish it yourself, you have one thing in your favour – you’re also a visual artist. That will help tremendously when it comes to the illustrations. But you also have the option of hiring that work out and paying a flat fee to get them done. I’ve basically ended up with a small team of people who helped behind the scenes – the equivalent of a publishing staff to do all those things writers need help with: designing the cover and editorial feedback primarily. I even hired a formatter, though I probably could have muddled through that one myself. But right now, I have so much on my plate it was a small price to pay to hand it off. Good luck with your decision.

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