Is Self-Publishing the Best Option?

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:

  • 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.

The Indie Route?

Or… I could invest all that time and frustration into learning to be my own sherpa. I would have to finance the expedition, hire experts and beg favors from friends. It would be a rockier, riskier climb, but a short-cut to bypass months or years of rejection. What the heck. How hard could it be?

How I mercifully broke even.

My investment was six grand — about average for conceiving and launching an elaborate creative project. Over half that was for marketing, including a spiffy re-design of my website. That expense would have been a necessary part of a traditional publishing deal anyway, since un-established authors are expected to self promote. I took the IngramSpark route. The learning curve looked like a very scary Covid spike. Editing took much longer than the initial six months of writing a decent draft. I hired a pro to help me through the copyright process, and a techie to format the thing for upload to the printer. Fortunately I didn’t have to hire an artist because I am one.

Is writing and then publishing a book worth it?

NO… and yet a resounding yes!

Back cover. Published Oct 1, 2020



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Mernie Buchanan

Mernie Buchanan

Mernie paints and writes in Woodstock NY. A signed copy of her memoir The Incompetent Psychic available via