What’s it like to indie-publish?(The highs, the lows & a couple of regrets)

Hello! Welcome to this week’s blog.

I think the expression ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ must have been made for indie-publishing.

In indie (or self-) publishing, the author becomes the publisher, taking responsibility for every element of the process.

I decided to indie-publish my debut novel ‘The Sentinel’ and found myself in a world of unknowns. Experience really is a great teacher.

Today I want to share with you what I’ve learnt: the highs, the lows and a couple of regrets. Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

The highs:

  • ‘Meeting’ the physical outcome of my labour of love. Holding my book for the first time has to be one of the delights of my life.
  • People like physical copies. I sold many paperbacks through my networks and definitely had more success than through Amazon KDP Select. In the Kindle Unlimited system, customers can download a free copy. Authors are paid on the number of pages read but what I found is that people take the e-book because it’s free but nothing much seems to happen after that. At least with a physical book, I know someone wants it (and will presumably read it) because they’ve taken the trouble to order a copy. Print-on-demand makes this process so easy.
  • Having a physical copy means it’s so much easier to approach local bookstores and leave one for the acquisition staff. This has led to bookshops wanting to stock my book. The brilliant feeling of seeing my book baby on a shelf in a real bookshop is another dream come true.
  • Having people read (and like) my writing! This joy never dulls.

The lows:

  • Publication and marketing are equally as hard as the writing process. They take so much time and effort and they detract from my daily writing. The amount of work involved has taken some of the enjoyment out of the publication of my book.
  • I spent A LOT of money making sure my novel (and the cover and formatting) were as good as possible. I paid for a manuscript assessment through Writer’s Victoria, copy editing, proofreading, ISBN, marketing, a false start with covers, the final cover, formatting, set-up for paperback copies, postage. At one stage I felt like I was bleeding money! Some of that money was well-spent, some definitely not. As I said before, you don’t know what you don’t know. I had to treat this as a self-teaching course in publication and marketing but sometimes the expense of it felt frustratingly wasteful.
  • To get a quality product you have to have a quality team. The hardest part of the indie-publishing route I found was the cover design. I blogged about the search for a cover designer here but I’d recommend getting on to this EARLY.

A couple of regrets:

  • To be perfectly honest, a small part of me would still love to have the recognition/status/reward of being picked up by a traditional publisher. I’m not sure why exactly. Perhaps it’s the final jigsaw piece of a dream I’ve harboured since I was little, perhaps it’s so someone else can do the work on the nuts and bolts of publication that I found so draining.
  • Sometimes I hear stories of ‘dream runs’ with publishing houses and/or agents and I feel regretful that my precious novel, a work I’m very proud of, didn’t get to go through that process. But then I hear of others getting past the first stage, after months of waiting, to receive a request for a full manuscript. Then there’s the excitement of an acquisition meeting only to find that their novel doesn’t meet the publisher’s needs after all. And the length of time involved in finding a ‘home’ for a beautifully crafted, polished to perfection, lovingly created work that’s taken years and years, is daunting.

Will I indie-publish again? Most likely. I’ve found methods of making the process more efficient and I’ve worked on my marketing strategies. Ideally I’d still love to have a traditional publisher come knocking but the time frames (and lack of confidence in the outcome) puts me off.

What do you think?

Let me know your publishing stories in the comments section. I’d love to hear them!

In exciting news, I’m about to launch the very first edition of my quarterly newsletter – it’s a full 6 pages of reading material.

Sign up using the subscription button here and you’ll receive a free copy of the source material I used to research ‘The Sentinel’ as well as a free newsletter.

All the best,

Until next time,


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2 thoughts on “What’s it like to indie-publish?(The highs, the lows & a couple of regrets)

  1. Thank you sharing your experience, Jacqui. I’m self-published and one thing is for sure, if you’re not constantly and consistently promoting or advertising, then you will be dead in the water. I do recommend self-publishing to writers, but only if they’re willing to work. It is NOT easy. First and foremost, you must have a quality product (because a book is a product and your customers/readers deserve your best) which you have clearly committed to creating. Then you have to have a solid marketing plan and stick to it. But I even though I’ve never had a bestseller, I do not regret publishing my books. It’s the accomplishment I’m most proud of in my life. Congratulations and I wish you the best with The Sentinel and your future books!


    1. Hi Christa
      thanks so much for your comment! I love how you understand the process. I agree totally – the marketing has been so much more work than I ever anticipated but I am SO glad I published. At the end of the day, it’s something I’m super proud of achieving. Thanks so much and all the best with your journey as well 🙂


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