Is Self-Publishing the Best Option?

I was triumphant. I broke even in three months… but not from book sales.

Mernie Buchanan
4 min readJun 22, 2021

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I have made my living as a freelance artist and designer since 1982 and still do. Two years ago I wanted to be a writer as well, so penned my memoir. The Incompetent Psychic turned out pretty good — funny, profound, helpful and hopeful. It is set both on Earth and in the Celestial dimension because our spirit guides talk about us, and occasionally jump in to be our dogs. Then I had to figure out how to publish. There are two choices: Traditional or Self.

Traditional would be ideal. However…

Being picked up by an agent and then a publishing house is a long trail up a steep mountain. Getting a good sherpa isn’t easy. A decent agent turns down hundreds of writers begging for their assistance every month. I paid an NYC expert in the field of commercial publishing $100 an hour to find this out. I also learned:

  • You can’t leave the base camp without a sherpa/agent.
  • Acquiring a good one has a .5% chance of happening. That means I would have to have a more successful pitch than 200 competitors for that agent’s consideration.
  • A successful agent might get 6–8 publishing deals for new authors in a year.
  • My memoir isn’t high concept enough for the commercial market because I’m not Oprah.
  • If I was to toss 95% of the manuscript and re-write a book about just talking dogs I might have a better chance.

And then she and her designer suit left with a $200 check and a smile that might have been pitying.

I next hauled stacks of how-tos from the library and perused the internet to learn that you have to have a platform. A platform is all the right climbing gear, amassed piece by piece over years of time. One component is an oxygen tank in case you ever made it to the rarified air way up there. That is a heavy chunk of hope to haul uphill. Oh, and I also saw something about Mount Everest itself, which is now pretty much a very tall heap of frozen human waste, dead bodies and discarded oxygen tanks.

The Indie Route?

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Mernie Buchanan

Originally from CA & Las Vegas, I now paint and write in Woodstock NY. All images are my original art & photos. Links to more at mernie.com