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Day 22 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway: April L. Hamilton

I enjoyed meeting April L. Hamilton at the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York in 2009. Our daughters are about the same age. Her self-published The Indie Author Guide is now published by Writer’s Digest. Please help me welcome April.

April L. Hamilton is an author, author services provider, blogger, Technorati BlogCritic, leading advocate and speaker for the indie author movement, and founder and Editor in Chief of Publetariat, the premier online news hub and community for indie authors and small imprints. April is also on the Board of Directors for the Association of Independent Authors. In 2009, she launched Publetariat Vault University, an online educational program offering lessons in Self-Publishing and Author Platform/Book Promotion. Her popular self-published reference book, The IndieAuthor Guide: Self-Publishing Strategies Anyone Can Use, has been released by Writer’s Digest Books in a revised and updated edition and is currently available from booksellers everywhere in both print and e-book formats. Learn more about April at http://www.aprillhamilton.com/.

In The Indie Author Guide, April provides plain English, step-by-step directions to self-publishers, with plenty of illustrations, charts, and even a companion website. Everything from manuscript formatting for print and e-book publication, designing your own book cover, hiring and working with freelancers, selecting a print service provider, and even author platform and book promotion for all budget levels is covered in this exhaustive volume, plus much more.

1. How has writing (either just the act of writing or writing this book or both) impacted your self-confidence?

The Indie Author Guide truly marks a turning point in my life. It set me on the path to becoming an evangelist for self-publishing, which spurred me to launch Publetariat and commit myself to a career in the publishing field. Not all that long ago I felt like so many writers do: on the outside, looking in at the publishing world. Now I’m helping others walk right past the velvet ropes and gatekeepers to become authors on their own terms. I’m lucky enough to be doing work I feel is very important, and which I also happen to enjoy.

2. What are three words that describe your creative book-writing process?

When I’m writing fiction, it’s all about character, circumstance and motivation. My fiction usually begins with a clearly defined character and a set of unusual or trying circumstances. From there I more or less let the story unfold naturally based on that character’s prime motivation. It all comes down to deciding what the character would do next, each step of the way. If the character’s number one priority in life is to be respected, he or she will react to a given set of circumstances differently than a character whose prime motivation is to be loved, or to amass wealth, for example.

3. What good has your book created in the world?

I get emails, tweets and Facebook messages almost daily from authors who’ve found some bit of help, guidance or motivation in my book or on one of my sites. I’m just one among many who’ve spearheaded this new “indie author” movement, and I certainly wouldn’t try to take all the credit for it. But it feels really good to know I’m a part of it, and that I’m giving others the tools they need to make their dreams of authorship come true.

• • •

Last time I asked a question about self-publishing, it was about whether or not you would consider it. This time, let’s pretend you are considering it at some point in your career and it’s not so much about what you’ll self-publish as what you won’t self-publish. Give us an idea of what you will self-publish, what you won’t self-publish, and why.

Answer in the comments in 50-200 words (no less and no more to qualify to win one of today’s books). Please read the complete rules at least once!

Thanks for participating in the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway! Thanks for spreading the word!

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  • Jen Henderson May 22, 2011, 1:11 pm

    My response is colored by my job in academia where self-publishing still retains a stigma that suggests you’re not a “real” writer if you go it alone. In fact, it’s still difficult, once self-published, to regain a sense of credibility within the ivory towers. Personally, I disagree with this view, but I’d have to say that, for this reason, I’d like for my first few book-length publications to come from a traditional publisher. Shorter and more experimental manuscripts, which don’t count “against” someone in academia, seem like better candidates for me personally, as do mini-publications that might not be appropriate to or successful as a book-length form but would be useful to my readers, my platform, and even my family (like family history, for example).

  • Melissa Alexander May 22, 2011, 2:05 pm

     I started this journey focused solely on the traditional publishing path. I had already (traditionally) published a nonfiction book, and now I was writing a mainstream novel. I still believe that traditional publishing is the right path for that and other mainstream novels in my queue. However, I also have an idea for an urban fantasy series, and that one I’m planning to self-publish. The genre is hot in that channel, and I’m willing to take a chance there. I’ve done my research on both channels, and I’m prepared for the investment, both in terms of time and money.

  • Malia Jacobson May 22, 2011, 2:41 pm

    This looks like an interesting read! I plan to self-publish a
    few shorter e-books, and in fact, I’m currently working on one now. I would like to
    publish traditional books, but at this point in my life (with two toddlers at
    home) I don’t have time to write a traditional book proposal, let alone a book.
    Publishing an e-book allows me to get helpful information in the hands of my
    audience right now, without the delays and the enormous time commitment involved
    in creating a traditional book.

  • Heidi Smith Luedtke May 22, 2011, 3:24 pm

    I’m not sure I know the answer to this question, yet. I’ve recently read an article on how to publish short articles and e-books for Kindle and it got me thinking about exactly this issue. What would I publish? What wouldn’t I? I wonder whether self-publishing something makes it “out of bounds” for a future book deal with a traditional publishing house. Then I think perhaps self-publishing something is a way to develop my platform and showcase my expertise before landing a traditional contract. My list of self-publishable ideas is growing.  But there is still a lure to traditional publishing for me. Hmm.

  • Cara Holman May 22, 2011, 4:27 pm

    I think self-publishing would be a great route to go with
    for the poetry and haiku I write, since poetry is generally published in
    limited edition chapbooks anyway. And a collection of personal essays would
    also be a good candidate for self-publishing, because with the popularity of
    anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, I don’t think there is much of a
    market for an anthology of personal essays by the same author, unless they are already
    famous. But beyond that? I guess if I felt I had an idea for a book with
    universal appeal, or more accurately, with the ability to attract publishers
    because of its potential to produce revenue, then I might try traditional
    publishing first. But in all, I don’t think I’d have a problem self-publishing

  • Nathan Go May 22, 2011, 4:46 pm

    I think many writers still dream about the almost unattainable goal of being published via traditional publishers. Count me in with this naive bunch, at least for my first yet-unfinished novel. I think I would want to at least give it a try and see if I gain any traction. If I don’t succeed, then I’ll do the self-publishing route without hesitation.

  • MC Bradley May 22, 2011, 5:31 pm

    As a publishing professional for over 27 years, I am torn between two camps with this question. I believe that the traditional  publisher can bring much to the table for new, and established authors, especially in the fiction arena. I’ve seen many self-published books that sadly, scream “Help me! Please!” with bad covers, no or poorly edited texts and a general lack of polish.  Some of these may have been based on good ideas.  Some of the authors may be quite talented.  And although the saying goes, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ well, most of us do just that, and that can be the kiss of death for these sad, little books.  So, I applaud anyone who is working to educate potential and current self-publsihed authors in the process of creating a well-constructed, well-produced, and well-promoted book!

  • Diane May 22, 2011, 7:28 pm

    If I’m pretending that I will self-publish someday, I could see publishing some sort of non-fiction parenting book. Which would mean I would have to learn some serious marketing skills to sell more than 10 copies 🙂

    I would not self-publish fiction. There are too many ways for me to go astray; I’ll-developed characters, plot holes, inconsistencies,etc…

  • Laura Ackerman May 22, 2011, 8:37 pm

    I haven’t really thought much about self-publishing, other than the fact that I am trying to earn a living from writing not pay to write.  Yes I know paybacks cn come later, but I’ve paid enough to “self-publish” my Master’s thesis already with the cost of education and all the fees they charge you to have your thesis printed for the University library.  I’d like to have some of my work published by others, at least for a while.  I would consider self-publishing, though, if I believe I have a story to tell that no one else wants to help me tell.  I think many of us have those stories to share and we shouldn’t let anything stand in our way if we tryly believe in our story.

  • Marta Oti Sears May 22, 2011, 9:04 pm

    I might want to write a mommy lit. book about nurturing compassion and justice (and maybe peace) in children, but I’m too ignorant at this point to know whether or not it would be a good candidate for self-publishing.  I’m a total newbie in this world so I look forward reading this book and learning.  I was encouraged to hear April say that not long ago she felt like she was on the outside of the publishing world looking in.  This gives me hope. 

  • Renee May 22, 2011, 10:09 pm


    I too
    still cling to the hope of someday publishing a novel through traditional
    channels. That said, there are so many success stories of books that were
    self-published and then “discovered” by traditional publishers/editors that I
    wouldn’t rule anything out at this point. I think my biggest fear of
    self-publishing is how much work you really have to put into it in order to
    make it succeed. Marketing myself has never been one of my strong suits. But I
    guess if I can hammer out 400 pages of plot, character development and dialogue,
    anything is possible, right?

  • Elayne Masters May 22, 2011, 10:45 pm

    As a writer, editor, and about-to-be publisher, I’ve seen
    too many self-published books that never should have hit the shelves. And I’ve
    seen my share of garages filled with those books! Most importantly, I will
    never self-publish anything that isn’t edited by a professional. Nor will I
    self-publish a book if I don’t have the skills to promote it or the money to
    hire someone else to do the job.


    If I’ve written a book that I’ll use in workshops and sell
    to attendees or clients, then I will self-publish. I may self-publish a book I’m
    committed to that simply doesn’t fit the current publishing trends if I’m
    convinced there’s an audience for it. I won’t self-publish a mainstream novel that
    stands a good shot of being picked up by a trade publisher unless I want more
    control than a publisher may be willing to allow. Then I’ll self-publish. And
    the list goes on.

  • Judy May 23, 2011, 12:04 am

     Well, I am not only considering self-publishing, but in the initial stages of actually doing it. And I’m excited! I’m going to publish an e-book tied to my niche—adoptive parenting, based on my personal experience as well as from work with educating adoptive  parents. My goal is to have it ready to go prior to the conferences I am attending and presenting at this late summer and fall.

  • Carol J. Alexander May 23, 2011, 1:33 am

    I think I would self-publish something serviceable.
    Non-fiction. Like how to grow the world’s best tomato (if I were a great tomato farmer, which I’m not). But if I were to write a novel, I
    think I would want someone to tell me that it was worth publishing. That I
    wrote a great story. That it captivated and held their heart in its hand. I
    think that kind of validation that the traditional publishing realm gives would
    be important to me.

  • Mar Junge May 23, 2011, 7:19 am

    I would self-publish nonfiction business books to boost my practice and my credibility as an authority on a particular subject. I would self-publish an anthology of my work and the work of other writers in my immediate family titled “Forever Junge” (Junge is pronounced “Young”). I would self-publish in a heartbeat my dancer friend’s biography if I could resume writing it as an “as told to” author instead of, as the IP lawyers deemed me, a ghostwriter for hire with no claim to the final work product. I would self-publish historical fiction tied to a specific geographical region or market. But I doubt I would self-publish mainstream fiction because there is too much competition and the market is fickle. For that I would need the editorial experience and promotional resources of a traditional publishing house.

  • April L. Hamilton May 23, 2011, 5:08 pm

    Laura – Actually, you can self-publish in print and ebook formats with no upfront costs through several service providers nowadays. While it’s true that you may still want to invest in professional editing and cover design, gone forever are the days when self-pub meant ordering a minimum print run of hard copy books, storing them and hand-selling them yourself. Thanks to Print On Demand technology and the rising popularity of ebooks, it’s a whole new self-pub world out there. 

  • April L. Hamilton May 23, 2011, 5:11 pm

    Renee – unfortunately, author platform is simply a reality of commercial authorship nowadays, regardless of who published you. In fact, all major mainstream publishers now expect to see some level of platform effort—and ideally, success—as a prerequisite to offering a publishing contract. If you’re thinking going mainstream will shield you from having to promote yourself and your book, I’m afraid it’s just not true anymore.  =’/

  • April L. Hamilton May 23, 2011, 5:15 pm

    Carol – I get that kind of validation on my indie books from reader reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, etc. I’m not sure why you think the only way to get it is to be published by the mainstream. I mean, the fact that a publisher opts to acquire a manuscript isn’t any sign of the book’s literary quality; it’s merely a sign that the publisher believes the book will be easy to sell. It’s ultimately the readers who will embrace your work in a more meaningful way – or not -, and you no longer need a mainstream publisher to connect with a readership.