Why Your Whining Behind Needs to Self-Publish

Posted on

Warning: this is a rant. The original title was “Why your whining behind needs to self-publish and stop crying about how you can’t get an agent or publisher ‘cause don’t nobody wanna hear that mess, especially with all the tools and technology now available to help you get your story to market with no damn middle man.”

But it was too long.

Look. I get it. Some writers dream about being offered a publishing contract. New York Times Best sellerdom. The six figure advance. Validation that someone other than you, your mama, and your cousin Big Mookie thinks you can write. I. Get. It.

But, baaaybee. There comes a point in life when we need to stop begging to be let into the party and create our own party.


Is that meant to disparage, belittle, or minimize any person looking to be published traditionally? Nope. Same destination, different journey. As a matter of fact, if you’re a friend of mine (or want to be a friend of mine) who is traditionally published, when you get that big advance, it would be totally kind of you to let your girl hold something.


Here’s a novel (no pun intended) thought: if you’ve been trying to get published traditionally and haven’t gotten any takers, maybe it doesn’t mean that you’re not a good writer. Maybe it just means that you’re meant to take a different route.

Or, hey; maybe your book sucks!  And if that’s the case neither traditional nor self-publishing is for you. But how do you know if your book sucks? I’ve made it easy for you to figure out with my super easy checklist below. If any of the following scenarios sound familiar, then you, my friend, just won yourself a free blowtorch, courtesy of the CABS (Citizens Against Books That Suck).

So here we go!

  1. Every time you send out a query letter, there’s a roll of thunder and flash of lightening. Maybe the weather’s just bad in your neighborhood. Or maybe God is trying to tell you something.
  2. You send out your manuscript to beta readers and they disappear without a trace. But not just some regular disappearing; their voicemail now says, “The beta reader you are trying to reach is no longer accepting your calls. Goodbye.”
  3. You find out that your writing group has been meeting without you.
  4. Literary agents send you a “cease and desist” letter instead of a standard rejection.
  5. As a kid, the dog ate your homework. But now, even Fluffy won’t eat your mess of a novel. In fact, when he sees you with your book, he plays dead.

    via GIPHY

  6. Every time you type “The End” at the conclusion of your novel, it rains. This is no coincidence. God is crying tears of joy.
  7. Lovers of Twilight fan fiction snicker when you walk by.
  8. Your significant other sat you down for the “It’s not you, it’s your manuscript” talk.
  9. You let your mama read your book. And then she slapped you.
  10. Publishers call you at 2 in the morning like:


All jokes aside, you guys, I totally understand that some of us want that traditional publishing credit to our name, but please don’t let not getting traditionally published deflate you to the point that you stop believing in yourself. Just because you didn’t get an agent or publisher doesn’t mean you aren’t good. And just because someone got an agent or a publisher doesn’t mean that they are any better than you.

What if you wrote the best book you could write and got the chance to connect with readers that love it? Oh, that’s right; you can! It’s called self-publishing. It’s up to you whether or not you’re going to sit at home and wait for the phone to ring (or for a “yes” from an agent or publisher) or if you’re going to write the best stories you can and get them out no matter the process.

Don’t believe me? Here are some Indie Pub All Stars, in no particular order. And if you’re saying to yourself, “Yeah, but their situation is not the norm and I probably won’t be as successful as they are because I’m too busy being a pessimist,”  I want you to raise your right hand quickly and swing it as hard as you can against your forehead.

New York Times Bestselling author Terry Mcmillan self-published her first book, Mama. Many of her books have been made into movies, including the smash hit Waiting to Exhale that starred the late great Whitney Houston.

Terry McMillan

Alan Weir self-published The Martian. Anybody seen the Hollywood movie starring Matt Damon???

Alan Weir

Kimberly Lawson Roby has been on more bestsellers lists that I can count. She self-published her debut novel nearly 20 years ago and has gone on to sell over 2 million copies of her books. As a matter of fact, my sister from another  mister, author Faith Simone, just blogged about seeing her speak recently. If you need an extra dose of inspiration today, be sure to check that out.

Kimberly Lawson Roby

Imagine what would have happened if none of these authors believed in themselves enough to take the leap!


23 thoughts on “Why Your Whining Behind Needs to Self-Publish

  1. Pingback: Don’t Even Get Me Started: Self-Publishing and the Need for Diverse Stories | Quanie Talks Writing

  2. Yes, don’t sit around waiting for 30-60 years. Self-publishing is a good option and the key point is not to rush through the process. Make sure the ms is rock solid, the cover art is amazing, and that everything is proofread by other professional eyes.

  3. I think the biggest mistake people make is in just publishing a book without learning and growing. In a way, maybe those years of getting rejected by agents and publishers forces them to learn and grow. Not that they have to go through rejection to get there…but just attending workshops and joining critique groups and reading some self-help books…that can help, too. I’ve read some BAD self-published books…as well as many, many good ones. You can definitely tell the difference, usually by page three!
    Stephanie Faris recently posted..Introducing A Love That Disturbs by Medeia SharifMy Profile

    • Totally agree. Self-publishing definitely has its doubled edged advantages. On one hand, talented authors can get their stories out there with no middle man, but on the other hand, stories are being published that probably shouldn’t see the light of day. Thank God for Amazon’s preview function!
      Quanie recently posted..Why Your Whining Behind Needs to Self-PublishMy Profile

  4. Lol, great post and hilarious. Although I self-published my poetry chapbook, I did get a publishing contract for it from a literary press. I’d still like to get that traditional publishing deal but I’ve come to the decision to be a hybrid published author. For my smaller works (chapbooks, novellas, shorts, etc.) I can self-publish. And query my novels to agent and publishers. If no one bites, oh well. No one said there’s only one, right way to get published. There are just so many possibilities and opportunities. Traditional publishing is not the be all and all.
    Lidy recently posted..How It All Began by Lori MacLaughlinMy Profile

  5. I hear where you’re coming from, and I’m glad to see you’re encouraging and inspiring a lot of people with this. But I’ve done my research, learned how much work goes into it and how failed attempts at self-publishing can make any attempt at a writing career even less likely. So I know it’s not for me.

    And yes, I did go on a rant about my lack of luck in getting published this week, but as long as I’ve been at this, I deserve it. 😛
    Mason T. Matchak recently posted..Fifteen Years of the Same ProblemsMy Profile

    • You went on a rant, too? So it’s going around??? And I know this post isn’t for everybody, but there is someone out there reading it who is thinking about self-publishing but is just too afraid to. It’s my hope that I have encouraged them enough to take the leap, just like Bella Andre did for me after hearing her speak at the San Francisco Writers Conference.
      Quanie recently posted..Why Your Whining Behind Needs to Self-PublishMy Profile

  6. What a rocket of encouragement you are today! I love it 🙂 And we need it. I’t’s so easy to feel defeated – and why should we? Though we don’t want to put out any old slop, just because we can, there’s no need to wallow in unpublished sorrow or wait for your epitaph to read “She just wanted to get published”. Thanks for the reminder, I love it when you rant!

  7. Life is too short to sit around waiting. There are lots of reasons why an agent might pass and not all of them have to do with your writing being bad. Publishing isn’t an either or. You can do one while waiting for the other.

    • Patricia, I could not have said it better! Exactly. It does NOT have to be either or. My personal attitude is this: I love writing and I love to share my stories with people, no matter the process. Some people get so caught up in the fact that they couldn’t get an agent that they forget what writing is really about. Books are meant to be read. Who cares how???
      Quanie recently posted..Why Your Whining Behind Needs to Self-PublishMy Profile

  8. Girl, you slay me every time I come over here! Too funny. And oh, so true. There is literally no excuse for a person with the desire to be an author to not do exactly that. Unless, they absolutely positively lack talent in regards to the written word. We can refer to your list if that is the case!

    Thanks for the shout out! And I never knew Terri McMillan published Mama independently. I love her books and that just blows my mind. Now I’ve got to find out if that was because the agents/publishing house couldn’t see the light, or she simply wanted to.
    Faith Simone recently posted..Kimberla Lawson Roby and Me!My Profile

    • From: the Sacramento Press http://ow.ly/DHVO301iwyb:
      “Her first novel, “Mama,” was self-published since major publishers considered the African-American readership to be too small a demographic. She laughed that after she became popular, “Publishers discovered that blacks read!” she said.” Bloop!

      Girl, yes, she tried to go the trad publishing route but they couldn’t see the light. Now look at her! What if she had given up???
      Quanie recently posted..Why Your Whining Behind Needs to Self-PublishMy Profile

  9. Agreed about not rushing. Beta readers are essential in gauging whether a work is ready for publication–and I don’t mean people you’re related to. A person learns so much from going through the publishing process, whether traditional or self published. That experience is invaluable: learning how to write for your audience. Publishers are so subjective anyway. They might turn away a book one day and accept the same book the next. I think that’s why they say it’s equal parts luck and skill.
    Crystal Collier recently posted..Orlando Cries: One Local’s PerspectiveMy Profile

    • I think that it can definitely be equal part luck and skill. I also think the thing that frustrates some writers (and the thing that makes them give up), is that they say, “But wait; my book is GOOD! And other people told me it was good! Why can’t I get an agent???” Some writers think that just because a book is good it will get an agent, when that’s not always 100% the case. I have an author friend who had an amazing first book. You know what an agent said to him? “This is the best book I’ve read in the last five years but I just don’t think I can sell it.” I think some authors just can’t wrap their mind around the fact that some agents make decisions based on what they know they can sell. They gotta eat.
      Quanie recently posted..Why Your Whining Behind Needs to Self-PublishMy Profile

  10. Great post. On the other hand, I’d also say not to rush to self-publish as so many do because they don’t want to wait. Rushing is never good and only makes the accusation that self-published books are crap. Unfortunately. Don’t rush. Get beta readers, editors, professional for matters and cover art. But yes, don’t let trying to traditionally publish make you give up on a dream. I’m STILL trying to get an agent for a book I believe in and want to go the traditional route for.
    Chrys Fey recently posted..IWSG Post Day Announcement / L – Looting + ExcerptMy Profile

    • Oh, definitely don’t rush! I also think that goes for trad published authors (in terms of not querying until a manuscript is ready ready), so definitely. I think that the excitement to get stories out there forces some to either publish or query before a manuscript is ready. I’m on the eyes bleeding revision of my WIP, and I STILL have another read through before it goes to the proofreader. Exhausting, but worth it.
      Quanie recently posted..Why Your Whining Behind Needs to Self-PublishMy Profile

  11. Thanks for this post, Quanie!

    While I do have a publishing contract with a trad publisher, I’ve known for a long time that I intend to indie publish, too. Every time I get close to it, those doubts creep in or I’m overwhelmed with the whole indie publishing process and I find an excuse to step back. I’ve already determined that next year is the year I release my first indie book (for real this time, really!) This foot-in-the-bum post was just what I needed to stay on track, because next year will be here before I know it.
    Reese Ryan recently posted..Her Kind of Man by Elle Wright — Launch DayMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge