Sunday, April 3, 2011

Guest Post: Nellee Horne on Self-Publishing


So, I mentioned that this would be happening in my most recent post, "On Being Brilliant". But, in case you forgot, Nellee is a friend I met through ABNA (which she also entered) . She's the 16-year-old author of Meeting Death (Kensey's Story), which is available on Amazon. She also has a wonderful blog which you guys should check out. :)

Nellee is a self-published author. Now, I have no experience with self-publishing. I chose to go the traditional publishing route, because a) I get professional feedback from literary agents (even if they reject my manuscript), and b) I hope that if my book is published traditionally, it will reach a wider audience. Also, tremendous success in self-publishing is rare––but there are inspirational cases such as Amanda Hocking and Christopher Paolini. And with her great determination, I'm sure Nellee will also go very far with her self-publishing endeavors!

So, without further ado, I present to you Nellee Horne's post about why she loves self-publishing! Learn and enjoy!

Ok, I’ve met a lot of people in the writing communities who are either for traditional publishing, self-publishing, or are split down the middle. In this post I will discuss my decision to self-publish.

I attempted to traditional publish a little over a year ago. I didn’t try that hard so it’s not like my decision was because I was desperate.

I sent a query directly to a publishing house and then to an agent. They rejected me. Well, they said it was because they were busy with other projects which I could easily understand. They receive possibly thousands of queries a day and they don’t have enough agents to look over every one and pick anyone. It took from February 12 to March 22, 2010 just to hear about the query, which was a summary and the first twelve pages of my book. I immediately began searching for new agents to try, but found some articles and reviews from people who talked about how great their experience was with self-publishing. I discarded it because one of my friends had said before that self-publishing was really hard and I wanted to make it to the best-sellers list and go on tour and be a common name among YA readers like Cassandra Clare, Stephenie Meyer, etc. (I think most writers want that.) I didn’t want to do that, but it interested me so I kept researching.

I found out about this woman (and I’m still trying to find this particular article for my friend Brigid here :)) who wrote an eight book YA series. The last book was split into two because it was too long. But, the editor completely changed the beginning of the eighth book without the author’s permission. She protested but because the publishing house owned most of the rights, there was nothing she could do. That really made up my mind. I wanted my book to be the way I wanted it to be; I didn’t want somebody who thought they knew what readers want and what not.

I looked into self-publishing again. I looked at what I had to do, people’s experience, and people’s success with it. I read one woman (she went with not CreateSpace like me) who self-published a book about her story of cancer or some kind of disease and she was interviewed by Oprah! I was amazed!

I also found out about some authors switching to self-publishing. Now why would they do that? They had an agent, they had an editor, they were going on tour, and they were selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Why would they give that all up? Because they could keep all of the rights and they could make a living.

Some people won’t read or review self-published books because they automatically assume that the person must have been desperate or this was their last resort and they must have been rejected by tons of agents. I could totally see that, but it’s simply not the case for most authors who self-published. It wasn’t for me.

I published my 300 page, 109,000 word YA novel with CreateSpace and Kindle publishing. I knew what was ahead when I made this decision, but I knew that, if I tried hard enough, which I was determined to do, I could make it to Oprah. (Then I found out that Oprah was ending so I changed Oprah to Ellen :))

Publishers and agents like to believe they know what readers want in a YA book. No they don’t. Here are some examples:

1) Look up Amanda Hocking first of all.

2) Freddy Krueger. That movie was rejected by all of the studios. However, the director or producer or whatever believed in his work so much and knew in his heart that it could be big, he decided to do the hard thing and make his own studio and make The Nightmare on Elm Street an independent film. Well, it’s become a 500 million dollar franchise. He brought the movie to the people and let them decide how far it was going to go.

3) Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. This is a little different but still the same outcome. It started with an idea and then a shop. Then, they wanted their ice cream to appear in stores. Pillsburry didn’t like that so they tried to tear them down and threaten them because they saw Ben and Jerry as competition. Ben and Jerry brought it to the people; let them know what Pillsburry was trying to do. The people sent tons of complaints to Pillsburry and they backed off.

4) America…the people rule.

It’s always the same outcome, isn’t it? I figured I’d let the people decide how far my book goes. It can go far but then it can’t.

A publishing contract does not guarantee success.

I read this comment somewhere: The good thing about self-publishing is that anyone can publish a book. The bad thing about self-publishing is that anyone can publish a book. So true.

Jacqueline Howett is a perfect example. (Brigid interrupts to say ... If you don't know who Jacqueline Howett is, read this blog post and the comments on it, and … then you'll know.)

The ones who can’t write outweigh the ones who can and who just want more control and rights and what they believe is best for their book. People like Jacqueline give people like me and Amanda Hocking and a lot of other self-published authors a bad name. It breaks my heart especially when I read things like, “And this is why I don’t review self-published books.”

Financially, it’s a great choice as well. An author who has been with a publishing house for seven years only gets $0.68 per paperback while I can get $3 per paperback and per e-book. If I and a traditional published author sell 100,000 copies in one year, who makes more? I do. I’d make $274,000 while he/she made $68,000. That’s about how much my father makes in a year. Some authors make less than that yet they sell the same amount of copies and they still have a day job.

I would like to make a living off my books. I want to be a full-time author, not part-time.

I know it can be difficult, but with all this social networking, it’s easier than how it used to be. Word of mouth can get you far.

I really want to be that person who shows people the other side to publishing. I want to be an example of perseverance and determination. I don’t have someone providing everything for me. I can’t go on tour and I can’t set up book signings myself. I don’t have the time what with my school and everything. But, I can let all that go for more rights and for my family to have a better life than what we have now. I just want to be an author, but I also want to be a self-made woman and to be an example and show others that you can do it yourself.

I know, very long post. :) Here's a post from the dark side! Muhahah! JK

Thank you, Nellee! :)

So, what do you think, fellow writers? Do you prefer self-publishing or traditional publishing? Why? Are you undecided? Share your thoughts!


  1. First off, great post! Second, I'm wondering: Did she hear about that self-published twit from my blog post? :) And I agree: people like Jacquline often give self-published authors a bad rep. :(
    Anyway, I've always rathered traditional publishing as I like the feedback you get from editors etc. And I think the eight-book-begining-altering thing must've been crazy, because normally they do not change random things without consulting the author first. At least not a major change like that! I mean, that pretty much sounds like the editor rewrote the begining (when the author is supposed to actually make the edits herself!) which I've never heard them doing before. I'd like more information, please, because it doesn't sound like we're getting the whole story.

    Great guest post! :D

  2. "America…the people rule." What a joke.

  3. @Alex - I agree ... Things like that happening are extremely rare, and the author would have grounds to sue the publisher. I also would like to see the article about this and get the complete story. It could have been due to the author's choice of a bad publisher, or something like that.

    @Hamza - Eh … what? I think you sorta missed the point of the entire post. ;)

  4. As an aspiring author doing mad research on the publishing industry, Nellee Horne, you have assured me that I'm headed in the right direction. My only drawback is trying to decide getting the best bang for my buck. The moment I find a POD and a creditable copy editor with the best services at the most reasonable price, I discover another that's even better from an advertisement popup that peeks my interest (I love to research and investigate things). I'm at a stand still from being overwhelmed. I would like to someday get my books into the public as I have several writing projects on my plate.

    AWESOME post my dear! Very encouraging and motivating post. Thanks for sharing. -M. J. Lane (Aspiring) Author

  5. Thanks everyone!

    @Brigid& Alex, I've tried finding that article about the editors adding a new beginning without the author's permission but I haven't been able to find it again. It was two years ago when I was still researching about self-publishing and I remember that article because it really stuck in my mind. But, I swear, I really did read about that happening :)

  6. Haha it's okay, Nellee. I believe you.


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