Thursday, January 17, 2019

Awakening to the Dream of Publishing

With many publishing houses closing and with the growth of Amazon books and other retail online outlets available for e-books as well as print, many authors I know have stopped waiting for contracts with big publishing companies. They have decided to go on their own and publish their own books. While I have done it for non-fiction, others are doing it for their fiction books, to great success.  Today's guest in My Writing Corner, Cyndie Zahner,  has a new book out that caught my attention. When she told me she was publishing independently, I wanted to know more about her publishing journey.  
 Why did you decide to publish independently?
Publishing a book on my own was fate. When I quit my full-time job and began writing novels, the best advice I received from a published author was don’t wait to secure a publisher for your first book. Begin your second.

I took her advice and began writing my second book, Dream Wide Awake, as soon as I finished my first. I completed Dream Wide Awake’s first draft not long after I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press (TWRP) to publish my first novel, The Suicide Gene.

Instantly, I loved TWRP. They were a wealth of knowledge. But like all publishing presses, TWRP’s road from submission to publication was long. So, while I waited for “release” day of my first novel, I worked long hours on Dream Wide Awake.

Fate has a funny way of aligning life’s puzzle pieces. I came across a class taught by that same author who originally offered me that initial advice to “keep writing.” This time? She was teaching self-publication. I took that as a sign. (Read Dream Wide Awake and you’ll find I don’t believe in coincidences.)

Another influencing factor? Prior to TWRP accepting my first novel, several small presses turned it down. While most encouraged me, none offered publication. Then I happened across a great little writing competition called Ink & Insights. I submitted my first novel to that competition. What sets them apart from other competitions is that for a reasonable fee, they give extensive feedback from four editors. (Love Ink & Insights.) I heeded every word those editors offered, revised my book with their suggestions, submitted the final draft to TWRP, and they accepted it.

So, now with one novel on the path to publication, I submitted my second novel to Ink & Insights, 2018. My scores came back high. I took every suggestion of the editors again, revised Dream Wide Awake, edited it again and again, and hired a fabulous proofreader. She cleaned up the novel, and I sent it to ten beta readers. They loved it. So, when The Wild Rose Press contacted me and asked to read my second book, I had done so much work on the book already I couldn’t bear waiting another eight months for publication.

I jumped in and self-published.

What are the biggest obstacles?
 First, being on your own with no one to ask questions of. 

Having a publisher for my first novel helped. When I decide to try self-publishing, I felt a bit disloyal to TWRP. However, when I told them I was self-publishing my second novel, they were understanding and supportive. Through them, I had met other authors, some who had also taken both routes: traditional and self-publishing. A few answered questions for me. I can’t say how much I owe to TWRP. If I hadn’t gone through the process with them, the road would have been tougher.

Second, you must do everything a publisher does.
 That means your workload doubles. Researching how to place my book on multiple websites was time-consuming alone. I also had to find a conversion program to change my word document to pdf, epub and mobi files (Jutoh, love it); decide what to do about ISBN numbers (botched that, purchase a block of ten on your own if you self-publish); find review sites (this I learned from TWRP); find a cover artist (thank you to my niece, Amanda Filutze); clean up my social media and learn more about the internet (thank you to my daughter, Jessie Zahner Grieshober, who walked me through this maze of misery); track my links (, I love you); and worst of all, research margins and design my print book. (I hate gutter margins.)

Thirdly, Dream Wide Awake is a totally fictitious novel, but some of the information is based on my life experiences. Chapter three, for example, was very personal. I based the experience of one of my characters on something that happened to me as a child. I did not want a word of that chapter changed and with self-publishing? I was the boss.

Last but certainly not least, I alone had to decide when my book was ready, which was to put it mildly, nerve-racking.

What do I like best about indie publishing?
 My freedom. I’m in charge. If I want to lower my price, I can. Up it? I can do that, too. I’m able to try different book blurbs to see which ones sell more books, and change key words at will.

I also have the opportunity to use Kindlepreneur (I’m purchasing Kindle Rocket), and Kindle Select (in which I will set up a ninety-day test period).

Do I like traditional or self-publishing more? I still can’t answer. There are advantages and disadvantages of both. TWRP has been wonderful to work with and my indie book, Dream Wide Awake, just finished third in Ink & Insights, 2018 Apprentice competition. So, I’m not complaining.

The bottom line is, publishing is secondary to writing. As long as I can continue creating stories to keep people up at night, I’m happy.

What a great story.  Let's find out about your new book -- Dream Wide Awake. Here's the blurb:
Dream Wide Awake 

Is someone looking for six-year-old Mikala Daly?

Mikala has visions. Years before she was born, her father, detective Jack Daly, married into a family rumored to see dead people. Jack didn’t believe in their psychic abilities until that gift—curse—befell his daughter.

Now their normal, mundane life spirals into mayhem as Mikala relays her dreams to him about three missing boys. Jack struggles to keep her visions secret. Is he risking her life?

He works to locate the boys before American government officials realize Mikala’s sixth sense is aiding his search efforts. Jack knows that in 2002 after 9/11, the CIA expanded an adult remote-viewing program to include children. When the project’s results stunned the White House’s secret commissioners, the adult program was discontinued and the childhood program, Project Dream, was born.

One daunting question haunts Jack. Is it true? Is death the only way out of Project Dream?

This sounds like a wonderful story! Thank you for bringing it to us and for sharing with us your road to independent publishing.   Here are the information links for Cyndie as well as the buy links for her new book. 

Author Links:
Author website:    
Author interview: 
(Hear about my 9/11 premonition that influenced Dream Wide Awake.)

Purchase Links:
Author website:    
Barnes & Noble:    

Again, thanks for sharing your story. Any questions or comments for Cyndie?


  1. Fascinating Blog. Thank you for your insights into the self publishing world. Sounds like your learning curve was steep, but you persevered and succeeded. Well done!

  2. Interesting, Cyndie. Congrats on expanding your horizons into indie publishing. Wishing you all the best.

  3. Interesting, detailed discussion of a difficult choice.

  4. Great blog post. Best of luck with your books. They are fantastic reads.

  5. You present some good arguments for both sides. I liked how you were honest about your experiences with a publisher and self-publishing. I'd like to read about your reflections after a year or two and see if your feelings have changed.

  6. Interesting blog. I too would like your reflections after a year or so. Best of luck with Dream Wide Awake.

  7. Great topic, CJ.
    I've been debating about going the self-publishing route for years. I've gotten the rights back to a few of my stories, so I'm going to try it with those since they're already edited and I can keep my original covers (that'll save money).
    Self-pubbing seems like so much work, but very rewarding too.
    Thanks for telling us about your experience. Good luck to you! :)

  8. I've been kind of daunted with the extra work and expense of self-publishing. TWRP makes it easy, but you're right, it's a long journey. Best on your new book!

  9. Thank you for all of the responses. I will let all know how I feel a year from now. I too am anxious to know! If anyone has questions on self-publishing email me. If I can answer, I will. I'm still learning myself. And yes, daunting.


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