In 2009, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel (kind of cliche, I know), using National Novel Writing Month as my guide. A friend of mine had done it the year before, and I thought, why not? It might be fun. So, in thirty days I wrote 50,000 words. And it was fun. Difficult, stressful, but fun nonetheless. I had been a casual writer before that, keeping a blog about my family and taking a creative writing course in college. I even wrote some fanfiction about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a kid before there was ever such a thing called fanfiction–or even such a thing as the Internet. Gasp! I found I enjoyed writing, but I never thought of doing it seriously. Not until I wrote those first 50,000+ words in 2009.

The next year, I recruited a few friends from my moms group to join me in NaNoWriMo, and again, I finished with over 50,000 words. I liked that story enough that I asked those same friends if they wanted to start a writing group. We’ve been meeting off and on ever since, sharing our work with each other to critique and learning to enjoy our individual writing styles and even new genres we might not normally read. (One of the members of the group currently has a two book deal with a major romance publisher. I never thought I’d get into romance until I read her books. She’s got a real talent.) I work-shopped that year’s story with the group but soon found myself stuck with a plot that involved time travel. I wasn’t a capable enough writer to fill in all the plot holes, so I decided to put it away.

When November of 2011 approached and I was feeling the urge to write again, my husband asked if he could collaborate with me during that year’s NaNoWriMo. I agreed and asked him what he wanted to write about. “Oh, you’re the writer,” he said. “I just thought I’d give you an idea for a setting or something.” He sent me a couple of ideas, and from there, The Golden Orb was born. It took over two and a half years from first draft to published novel with several revisions, meetings with my writing group as well as an editor, and a round of beta-reading in between.

I remember during our first year as a writing group we discussed whether or not we were planning on publishing any of our work and how we were going to do it. Self-publishing was just becoming a thing, and CreateSpace was being advertised all over the NaNoWriMo website with a prize for the “winners” in the form of a discount or free publishing of that year’s NaNo novel. Suddenly, the path to actually making a book didn’t seem so long or difficult anymore. After much thought and discussion and research, I felt that self-publishing was going to be the right fit for me. And I was right.

So, if someone asks me why I decided to self-publish, here are a few of my reasons:

1. I had control of the entire process. From my cover (which was done by an amazing artist friend of mine; I have no design skills whatsoever) to the revision process to when I actually decided to publish, I set my own guidelines and deadlines. I still own the copyright to my work and can decide when I want to stop publishing it, if ever. I also decided (to an extent) who could sell it: CreateSpace, Amazon, the Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble, etc., and in what formats I wanted it to appear. The Golden Orb is already available in print and for Kindle, and I’m waiting for it to be published in the nook store. I never had someone breathing down my neck or telling me what I could and could not keep in my book to make it more “marketable”. It’s my book, and I was able to sell it as is. It may be too niche, but only time will tell. Which kind of ties into the next reason…

2. I didn’t have to wait to be rejected before actually getting published. It’s true that I could have sent out a million queries with samples of my manuscript to agents or publishers, only to be rejected a bajillion different ways, but with today’s amazing technology, I didn’t have to. With just a few hours and several clicks on my laptop (and a day or two of waiting), I had a published book ready to be sold online. I don’t know if it’ll ever find a large audience, but right now, I’m okay with that, because…

3. I’m a mom, first. I have a family to care for everyday. From breakfast to bedtime, I try to be there for my sons as much as I can, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for writing. The past several months, as I slogged toward publishing The Golden Orb, I occasionally told my sons that I was working on my computer. They’re old enough now that they can entertain themselves much of the time, and they’re both in school at some point during the week, which means I’m beginning to have more time to myself. Still, writing is just a hobby for me. I don’t plan on making it a career–at least, not yet. The stress of parenting two young boys is enough without having major deadlines looming over my head everyday. Maybe when the boys are in high school.

4. I’m not getting any younger. Okay, so I’ll be 37 next month, which isn’t that old. But with middle age creeping up on me and a couple of friends dealing with terminal illnesses, I’ve suddenly found myself facing my own mortality. I think the main reason I chose to self-publish was because I wanted to create something I could leave behind. Something tangible that could be enjoyed by the rest of the world, or at least by a few people who might enjoy the same things I do. I guess I just want to tell a story and share that story with others. Maybe it’s egotistical, but I want to know I made a lasting impression on those I leave behind. Of course, my day-to-day interactions with people do the same thing, but I think I’ve found something that I love doing (besides being a wife and a mom). And nothing has made me happier these past few weeks than sharing that love with the people I love the most.

If you’ve self-published or are considering self-publishing, let me know in the comments below your own thoughts on the subject and why you chose to do it.

Thanks for reading.

A. Cook

Amanda Cook is a writer and stay at home mom who lives in a southern Indiana woods with her spouse, kids, and one clingy dog. In the Before Times (and sometimes even now), she could/can be found helping out with her kids' school, catching up on her toppling TBR pile, playing games with her friends, hanging out at virtual conventions, crying over period dramas, or sewing yet another cosplay. Her second novel, "When We Were Forgotten," was the winner of the 2018 Bronze Medal for Best Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror E-Book from the Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards. She writes short speculative fiction and poetry that can be found at various markets and here on her blog.

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