Guest post: Self-Publishing is No Longer a Dirty Word by Jean Henry Mead

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of self-publishing is brought to you by mystery writer Jean Henry Mead.

Self-Publishing is No Longer a Dirty Word

Not everyone agrees that independent publishing is the key to writing success, but a growing number of authors are proving the naysayers wrong. More and more writers are leaving their publishers to strike out on their own, some with unparelled success, such as Robert Walker, who has repeatedly said that the secret to success is to consistently turn out quality work on a regular basis.

But even Rob will admit that there’s more to it than that. We’ve all heard that writers need a platform and a fan base of readers who trust the author to turn out quality work. But how does one acquire a fan base? Not by hermitting him or herself at the computer without making contact with the outside world. Those days are over.

When I put together my second volume of mystery writer interviews, I met some successful new writers, among them Canadian bestselling author Cheryl Kaye Tardif, who publishes not only her own work but others with her Imajin Press from Alberta.

She says in The Mystery Writers: “In 2010 Amazon opened KDP to Canadian authors and I went back to my roots—to indie publishing. For me it’s probably the best fit. I am by nature very independent and a strong marketer. Plus I’m ‘an idea person’. Even my old publisher saw this in me and often called me a “guru” or “marketing genius”. While I don’t consider myself a ‘genius’ I do know that I’m a risk-taker.”

Independent publishing isn’t for everyone. It requires not only writing talent but good marketing skills and industry know-how to succeed. A number of other self-publishers are included in The Mystery Writers as well as bestselling traditionally published novelists such as Sue Grafton, Lawrence Block, J.A. Jance, Vicki Hinze and James Scott Bell (former Writer’s Digest fiction columnist).

Tim Hallinan, award-winning author of the traditionally published Poke Rafferty mystery/thriller series, decided to self-publish his Junior Bender series—humorous stories of a burglar with a “moral code who works as a private eye for crooks”.  Tim’s earlier novels earned him critical acclaim but not enough money to retire from his day job. He now earns thousands of dollars a month with his self-published ebooks.

He said the reason he decided to leave his agent and publisher is because “the money we were offered by the publishers wasn’t very good. I looked at the offers and thought, ‘I’d rather own my books”.

Rebecca Dahlke once managed her father’s crop dusting service in Modesto, California, and decided that her protagonist—a beautiful former model—should also be a crop duster. She then decided to independently publish her novels, with successful results. Rebecca, like Cheryl, is a promoter and a humorous one at that. She says, “Self-publishing is no longer a dirty word. Eons ago, back in the dark ages (of publishing)—was it really only five years ago?—all we authors could hope for was a good agent, a decent publisher, a slowly growing fan base, and a list of book stores that might, or might not, keep our books on their shelves for three to six months before returning the unsold copies to the publisher. We could send in Advanced Reader Copies to prestigious reviewers or magazines and hope they would say nice things about our books, or pay a publicist to tout it, take our dog and pony show on the road, eat bad food, stay in crappy hotels, be at that next book store, book fair, conference, and smile till our cheeks ached.

“The changes have been exciting, and for this author, validation that I too can write books that readers enjoy. So, for all the august veterans who see the Internet as an encroachment onto their hard-won personal turf, let me paraphrase one of my favorite movie lines: ‘Saddle up boys and girls, it’s going to be a bumpy ride’!” You can read how Rebecca accomplished her success in The Mystery Writers.

And, after ten publishers of my own over the years, I decided to independently publish The Mystery Writers with my own small press. The 406-page book is featured on Createspace and is available on, Kindle and Nook.

The 406-page book is a veritable bible for fledgling writers because the advice offered by 58 bestselling, award-winning and midlist writers is invaluable for any genre. Twelve subgenres are represented and the authors write from as far away as South Africa, Brazil, Thailand, the U.S. and England.

To promote the book, I’ll be blog touring from April 16-28 with the Mystery We Write blog group and my schedule is up at: I’ll be giving away a print copy of the 406-page book and an e-book copy in a drawing at the conclusion of the tour to visitors who leave comments with their email addresses.

Thank you, Jean!

Jean Henry Mead is a mystery / suspense and western historical novelist as well as an award-winning photojournalist. She’s published 17 books, half of them novels, and served as a newsreporter; news, magazine and small press editor in California and Wyoming. She was also a correspondent for the Denver Post. Her website is

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with fantasy and science-fiction author Rachel Cooper – the three hundred and twenty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo. My eBooks are now on Amazon, with more to follow, and I also have a quirky second-person viewpoint story in charity anthology Telling Tales.

I have a new forum and you can follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email meI am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for my Post-weekend Poetry page.

9 thoughts on “Guest post: Self-Publishing is No Longer a Dirty Word by Jean Henry Mead

  1. says:

    True… however… I’m finding resistance from libraries and bookstores when I say I’ve self-published. I wrote a blog post about my own journey with self-publishing and also one on the trend in children publishing. Please check it out on my website:


  2. Lesley Fletcher (@gypsyles) says:

    I really think that until the larger chain book stores (here in Canada at least) are willing to set up their system to include self-published authors in their database – you will always find resistance. Libraries will generally include your book locally.

    Even when I got my books into one store – on the local authors shelf I was asked to remove them by November 1st to make room for Christmas stock. One of my children’s books is entitled ‘All I Want for Christmas is a Wishmas Tree’ – sigh

    Chapters/Indigo advised me to get a distributor for my 1st book and they would see about placing it in certain pockets of the market, however the cost of shipping and potential buy-back and actually securing a distributor within distance here in Montreal just messed up that opportunity entirely for me. I was way too ‘green’ at that time.

    On the upside – for those who are established authors with proven sales and reputation I am happy that they are self-publishing and lending legitimacy to other Independent Authors.


  3. Yvonne Hertzberger says:

    My experience agrees with Lisa. But it is good to see that we are making progress. At least more competitions are accepting Indies and I no longer see as many faces shut down when i tell them I am self-published. But even some local libraries are not interested. It took 18 months to get my book on the shelf after I had donated a copy and held a reading there.


  4. jeanhenrymead says:

    Thanks, everyone, for your good comments. I’m happy with the results of my own self-publishing, but I formed my own small press to legitimize my work. That helps tremendously when it comes to selling to bookstores and libraries.


  5. S P Mount says:

    Indeed, if one approaches it from the right angle, self publishing offers many an opportunity that may not have been afforded an aspiring writer previously. It unearths new talent and new ideas. It’s called evolution, the digital age, and its wonderful. Seven years into my (serious) writing journey now, feeling for the first time that I might just be able to call myself professional, might just be taken seriously by an agent, I don’t want one and I hear less and less about any author sending their works to agents/publishers, not even talking about them like we all did only a few short years ago when we would collaborate to compile the perfect pitches, writing letters sucking up to them, 99% of the time to be ignored even with an SASE, the other 1% gracious enough to send a polite rejection letter or email. While I am sure they’ll always have a role, it’s definitely been redefined, but the tables have turned nonetheless, the rejector becoming the rejectee; more and more successful writers going it alone. A matter of time before agents write to writers in the hopes of being accepted? Hardly, but my evil twin would like to think so.

    The part about this blog that got me most though, is one close to my heart,and I have blogged about it a few times myself; I am by nature that writing hermit, have been extremely annoyed that I now need to socialise, albeit digitally, and don’t actually have to TALK to anyone, and have avoided doing so for the longest time. But I’ve given in; there’s no escaping it if you want to skilfully surf the tsunami of those self publishing, you absolutely NEED to or you’ll sink and become a barnacle clinging to a rock. And it’s an art unto itself. And as much as agents have to, we as writers, not using them, and even then, need to adapt as well, take on THEIR role.

    But, tutting all the while as I begrudgingly studied and studied the marketing aspect of it for months – something I thought would be as bad as doing my taxes and would undoubtedly need to use the same side of my brain as for them – joining this group and that group, blogging, twittering, hubbing, Facebooking ingratiating myself all over the place – whining about when the hell was I supposed to write exactly? So, no one was more surprised than I, that it’s started to pay off. Yes, I’m actually thoroughly enjoying it, quite GOOD at it actually, marketing myself, packaging how I want to present myself as a multifaceted writer, having fun with it, getting noticed now, finding random recommendations to my work on other people’s site’s and receiving invitations from respectable organisations, suddenly it all making sense like the revelation I had about my erstwhile comma use that one time. Vive le Revolution.

    Thanks for the article; I enjoyed it.


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