Guest Author: Zoe Winters and Indie Publishing

I Don’t Want Your Poopie Ice Cream Anyway!

Save My SoulDionne asked me to talk about being an indie author. I’m pretty much off the indie rah rah train for the most part, except when someone specifically asks me to talk about it, then I can be persuaded. :)

There was a time when I had the plan to get a “real publisher”. It was the proper and respectable way, and I took my writing very seriously. I’ve been writing since at least junior high and I wanted to be a published author. I wanted to be “validated”.

I wrote a lot of books I’ll never publish and did not submit because I knew they weren’t ready. This wasn’t a fear of rejection. I’d submitted short stories before and gotten rejections. Some of them form letters, some of them nice. I’d never understood the whole “crying over a rejection letter” thing. The most I’d felt was a little bummed/disappointed. I knew it was just part of the process.

As I got closer to having a novel that I thought might be ready for publication, something funky happened with my writing. I stopped doing as much of it. Because now it meant I had to submit stuff to agents. And then after that I had to get a publisher. And then I had to lose control of everything from my title to the way editing was done, to my cover art. Then I would live in this mystery land where I had no idea about my sales for months and months at a time. And I’d have to deliver books on someone else’s deadlines. And if I someday started writing fast, I’d have people trying to “slow me down” due to their publishing schedules.

The more I learned about the publishing process for “real publishing” the less I wanted to do it. The whole thing just started to sound so unappealing, I could barely make myself write. Lingering in the back of my mind was the idea of self-publishing. I’d accumulated over $200 in self-publishing books and had educated myself on most aspects of the process. The idea really appealed to me, but I was still a little stuck on this: “Oh God, people will think I’m not serious about my work, and that I’m a little idiot who doesn’t understand how books are published.”

In 2008, I submitted Kept to a publisher. The novella had originally been intended as a contest entry for a popular epublisher. But it wasn’t ready in time, and I wasn’t willing to submit subpar work. Interestingly, while Kept was out with the publisher, I finally got through my pro/con list and decided I was going to do it. I was going to self-publish.

After all, if nothing else, I needed a platform. I was hearing about people losing their publishing contracts left and right and how hard it was to KEEP a contract. So I was in this weird position where I kind of wanted the publisher to reject Kept because I wanted to see what I could do on my own and didn’t want to be faced with a “hard decision”. Had it been happening right now, it wouldn’t have been a hard decision at all, but back then I thought it could incite the raining toads apocalypse.

Kept was rejected, very politely, with a page-long letter with suggestions on how to improve the work. I took most of those suggestions, polished it up some more, and self-published it. Once I got into “being indie”, I really started to love it as much as I thought I would, maybe more. I got so into it, in fact, that I couldn’t seem to stop arguing about it with people who thought it was stupid or I was stupid.

The thing that pissed me off the most was how people would insist I HAD to have a “real publisher” or I wasn’t a “real author” so neener. But the problem was, I didn’t WANT a “real publisher”. It wasn’t like I was standing outside with my nose pressed up against the glass longingly lusting after one of the big six. I just wanted people to stop telling me what I “had” to do to be respected as an author.

I think my protests sometimes came off like the title of this blog… like I was this poor, distraught, rejected, sad little writer who self-published as a last resort and hated it and secretly wanted a NY publisher to come rescue her. Some couldn’t conceptualize someone genuinely wanting to self-publish. I guess it was too weird a concept or something.

No, I actually meant it.

I’ve just released a new book in my series, called: Save My Soul.

The coolest things about it?

I got to pick that title. No one’s marketing department got to give the book a stupid, gimmicky name that has nothing to do with the book. Don’t get me started on series books that all have one word the same in all the titles. It’s so confusing. Why not give each book it’s own title identity and have a series subtitle like… “The Preternaturals Book Two”? (for example)

I get to pick my own editors. I don’t have to deal with someone who has a different vision for my work than I do. I also get to control the interior layout, which I’m bizarrely anal about especially for the print release.

Another cool thing: I get full say in cover art.

I don’t need any permission for any kind of marketing materials I make, beyond normal licensing of stock images and music. Here’s the book trailer for Save My Soul:

Book Trailer: Save My Soul by: Zoe Winters from Zoe Winters on Vimeo.

Self-publishing doesn’t have to be amateur hour. Just like indie film and music, there is a place for indie books. You can produce good stuff this way. I love doing it, and I really can’t see myself publishing any other way.

If you’d like to check out my latest release, Save My Soul, please go here for further details and buy links. It’s the second book of the series, but it also stands alone so you can start with this one if you haven’t read Blood Lust yet.

Thanks for reading!

Last 5 posts by bam


Bam has been reading romance novels since she was 9 years old. She especially enjoyed the Sweet Valley High series, particularly the romance-centric ones. Her first real romance novel was "Perfect Partners" by Jayne Ann Krentz. She's obsessed with old-school Harlequin Romance novels and reads four or five a week.

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3 Responses

  1. bam says:

    That book trailer is punk rawk, Zoe. Thanks for guesting.

  2. Zoe you are awesome! Thanks for sharing with us. I think that the Indies are the last vestage of true creativity. Onward!

  3. Queen B says:

    Awesome post! Thanks for writing about this subject.