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My Adventures in Indie Publishing. (Yawn.)

December 15, 2010

This is the hot topic nowadays. It’s either loved or hated; either way it’s something that is happening.

To tell my story, I need to go back, way back; and for a sixty-something year old that’s waaay back.

I started writing short skits and plays in elementary school and then years later I wrote my first story, a fantasy about magicians and evil world domination. The length made it a novella, and I put it on one of my websites, where it still sits.

Speeding forward to 1985, I had come out of two years in community theatre and decided to write my own play, a two-act comedy called “Happily Ever After” (original, huh?). It ran in dinner theatre in Detroit for sixteen sold-out shows and even garnered a review in a local newspaper. Afterward, I wrote a number of short stories and articles that ended up on a website that I created, but I always wanted to write a full-blown novel.

Flash forward to 2009, after a few months of unemployment. Finding work in the Detroit area with a few thousand out-of-work autoworkers wasn’t easy for a senior citizen. Bored, I sat down to my computer and typed out the first paragraph of my first book, “Classmate Murders.” One month later I had finished it, printed out a few copies, and gave then to friends to read. One friend sent the thing back with punctuation corrections on just about every page. What do you expect for a guy who almost flunked high school English?

I thought the book was good and now wanted to start another, so I did. After the third book in three months, I decided to see about getting them published so I went online. My brother, a professional photographer, had joined Twitter and as much as I resisted, I also joined. He said it was a way to promote my books, so I entered into the world of lost souls.

I learned a bit, gained followers, and cautiously promoted my books. On Twitter I found an agent who was interested in the two books I submitted but after numerous emails, I never heard back. I then submitted my work to a number of agents and at least they sent me the standard rejections, with no helpful explanations. I was reading more about the conditions in the traditional publishing world and self-publishing. I got tired of waiting to get my books out to the people who actually counted, the readers. I received a good number of comments favorable to my books so I knew I had something to offer.

I had worked for many years in the printing trade so I knew how to print and bind my own books. I found that when going with an online press the cost of printing the books outweighed the profit I would receive so I made my own books. Now the problem was getting the books out. I had a Facebook page and let people know the books were available and some sold, mostly to friends. That was all right; they were at least getting out.

Twitter brought me a number of sales also. Then I discovered Ebooks. I found Smashwords and all that they could do to get my books out to the public. I sent in the seven books I had at the time and continued writing. The books were starting to sell modestly, and I was now giving away my first book to anyone who wanted it. I figured I had more books in the series and giving the first away free may stimulate sales; it did! I also put the Ebooks up on Amazon for Kindle and they are selling well.

Recently I put my first book up on a site that allows people to download books free, both public domain and author submitted. I put my free book there and as of today, in just under three weeks the book was downloaded 3,119 times and still counting. That’s three thousand plus people who will read, pass along and maybe even buy the rest of the now thirteen books I have! So, there are ways to get your books out to the readers, if you just keep at it. I’ve used many other sources, too numerous to mention here, but explore the internet, you can find them.

I was asked to write about 750ish words, but I want to say one more thing. Recently I read a couple posts attacking self-published writers. Their main complaint was the quality of these books and how it hurts other authors who spend time and money into perfecting their writing. Not everyone has the funds to hire professional editors–it’s a legitimate reason.

Listen–I know there are mediocre books out there; I have read a few that I paid for or received free. These books don’t hurt anyone but the author. If they aren’t any good, people won’t read them and definitely won’t recommend them. So what’s the problem? If you have books that people enjoy, they will buy them and recommend them to other readers. The bad books will be bought by friends and family, and that’s that. Bad self-published books won’t hurt good authors, period.

I’m over my limit, but hey, I write, and it’s hard to stop. Thanks for putting up with me and good luck with your books.

Bob Moats


Free book|For Kindle|Smashwords



My paperback books are available at

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2010 12:43 am

    I agree! What I love most about this brave new world of publishing is that authors are at the mercy of their own talent, instead of at the mercy of someone who wonders whether or not a product will make money for stockholders of a corporation. It’s between reader and writer – not an intermediary “priest” or authority. And readers will trust their own paths of discernment and find books they love – no matter who ‘publishes’ them. Who cares? It’s the product that matters.

  2. December 19, 2010 5:01 am

    I downloaded the application for ISBN numbers that our books have to have to be sold to retailers, from R.R. BOWKER, THE UNITED STATES ISBN AGENCY and in their FAQ I found this entry:

    “Can a self-publisher obtain ISBNs?
    Yes, a self-publisher can obtain ISBNs. A self-publisher is a publisher: one who is undertaking the financial risk to bring a book to market and coordinating everything involved: advertising, marketing, printing, order fulfillment, etc.”

    We self-publishers are our own publisher. We are the ones who take the responsibilities for our work and it’s fate in the book world. The official agency of ISBN recognizes us as legitimate so we can honestly say, we are published authors.

  3. December 19, 2010 12:07 pm

    Bob, this post is very timely for my nephew. He has just finished writing his first novel and is trying to figure out the world of agents and publishers. I’m going to forward this post to him so he can see the steps you’ve taken. Like your brother, I’m also a photographer and have followed Mike’s journey over the past several years. You are definitely a gifted family. Thanks again for this information. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

    • December 20, 2010 11:28 pm

      Barbara, if your nephew needs any info on getting started I can give a few of my pointers, but I’ll try to help when I can. I’ll say I met you to my brother. Thanks, Bob.

  4. December 20, 2010 11:18 pm

    Thanks Winslow and Barbara, an update now, my E-books are being sold through Smashwords and are going out to Apple for iPad, Sony for the Nook, Barnes & Noble, Diesel and Kobo. They are selling quite well now and sales for the kindle on Amazon is tripling from the month before. My free first book on is about to turn over 6000 downloads worldwide. The E-book is now the self-publishing way to go. I still like print but almost everyone is buying e-readers. There are still companies out there that will print paper but are charging prices that eat your profit. Just a word of advice, besides having proper formating of your manuscript before summiting to EBook sellers, make sure they have been corrected for pesky little things like grammar and puncutation and wonky sentences (Val, who checks my books, her favorite word is Wonky and she uses it on me when she can.) Publishing is changing out there and the good authors will survive, maybe not make a living, but like me, a chance to leave a legacy with our words.

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