Monday, February 28, 2011

Guest Author: Lori Devoti - Why NY pubbed authors are self-publishing

I'm thrilled to have Lori Devoti here today to chat about her reasons to start self-publishing original work...that's right folks, not just her backlist titles but original work!  Go Lori!  It is still pretty uncommon to see NY pubbed authors willing to take the indie leap beyond their backlist titles so when I saw this book pop up on Smashwords awhile ago and then saw the author's name, I was very excited.  After confirming with Lori that this book was actually an original work (much to my delight) I just had to beg ask her to stop by and chat with us about her reasons for going indie.  Be sure to check out Lori's March Madness sale info at the end of the post!

Lori says....

Michelle asked me to write a post on why, after ten novels plus a number of shorter works with New York, I decided to self-publish my new young adult urban fantasy novel, Demon High

The answer is both simple and complicated. 

The simple--after a dozen or so submissions to NY, both on my own and through my previous agent, the book didn’t sell to NY. 

However, when I made the decision to publish the book myself, there was a request in my inbox from a small, but very reputable print publisher to read the full. 

I knew this publisher would do a good job publishing the book, meaning I knew they took pride in their product and would do what they could to get sales. I also knew that this would give me a “real” book that I could take to upcoming conferences and for my family to show others. I knew in many people’s minds this paper product would make me “legit” as a young adult author. 

But even knowing all of that, I decided not to send the full. Instead I sent an email saying I’d decided to go another direction...I had decided to self-publish instead. 

There was a time not so long ago neither I nor probably any other author would have sent such an email.
But times have changed and I think for the better—both for readers and writers. 

I had, at this point, already played a little with self-publishing. My vampire short story, Lost, had been up for a number of months with both great and terrible results. The great—it was selling like crazy. The terrible—readers felt it was too short and the ending too incomplete. 

In other words I had made some mistakes, but I was learning, and despite my bruises (and one and two star reviews) I liked what I saw as the possibilities for both readers and writers. 

Readers were unhappy with Lost and they told me that. If the story had been published with NY that would have been the end of it—too bad for the readers, too bad for me. But since I put the story out, I had a number of options open to me. 

I liked that. I liked that I could actually change the product in what would hopefully be a way to satisfy readers. (I did this by writing a second story that is now bundled with the first at the same $.99 price, and early feedback has been great.) 

So, reason #1 that self-publishing is good – readers can give feedback and authors can act on it relatively quickly, sometimes immediately. 

Personally, I think this is one of the most important reasons, but it is far from the only one.
Here are a few others.

Loss of the gatekeeper. 

NY is a system of gate-keepers. We all know this. Some people get downright angry about it. I never have, because I’ve always recognized that publishing is a business and when an editor or agent rejects a book, what they are saying is “I don’t think I can make money off this.” And really, that is their right. 

However, what NY needs to make money off of a book and what an author in this new world needs to make money off of a book are FAR from the same thing. 

My print runs have all been in the tens of thousands. A book needs at least that kind of possibility of sales for NY to take a chance on it. And it has to be what they think is a good chance because with the old print model there was a lot of non-recoverable costs if the book didn’t sell. 

But guess what? As an author selling my books directly to readers, I don’t have to sell anywhere near the same amount of copies to make what I think is a fair dollar amount for my work. 

So, what happens? 

Books that would not make it in the old NY model get a shot. (And I am including authors who were never published by NY in all of this. There are many, many great writers who never sold to NY and now are finding success, or should be finding success, self-publishing.)

This means books that NY gave up on and genres NY gave up on get a shot. 

Which means readers whose favorite genre got dropped as not feasible now can find that genre or author again.

So, reason #2 Choices for readers and Freedom for writers to write what calls to them, not what is “hot” at that exact moment. 

Need more reasons? How about information? As an author this is huge. 

Authors have always wanted more information and publishers seemed to cling to it tighter than Ebenezer Scrooge to his gold.  

But with digital publishing, authors can log into Amazon or Pubit’s dashboard and see how many books they have sold hour by hour. They can be on a blog and see instantly if that effort sold books. 

They can use this information to give them more (responsible and responsive) control over their own product. They can run sales. They can change the cover, the product description and even the book as much and as frequently as they like. 

And then there is, of course, money. 

This is the hardest part to predict. I know authors doing really well with self-publishing, as well or better than they did with NY. And I know authors not selling enough to buy a latte. 

But for any and all of those authors the possibility of making more money exists because they retain their rights. With NY this isn’t true, and if your book doesn’t sell well in its first few months, its chances of making more money are slim—unless you get a foreign sale or movie option, etc. But with self-publishing, authors can at any time redo their cover, reprice the book, or rewrite the back cover copy. They can even rewrite the book. They can do whatever they want to make that book more appealing to readers and that, people, is now what it is all about. 

Writers writing to entertain readers. 

You may think that is what it has always been about, but I’d argue that somewhere along the way this writer to reader connection got lost. And, having been a NY author, I understand why. I know this sounds strange, but when you are working and reworking a book to satisfy your agent or your editor it is sometimes really easy to forget that ultimately this book is for a reader—and not just that one person with the power to tell you “no”. 

Well, not any more. :) 

And p.s. one last plus of self-publishing for readers? Price. Authors don’t have the overhead of publishers and thus don’t have to price their self-published books as high. Looking for a bargain, but also great read? Check out something indie.

And check out my books right now! Through the month of March all of my self-published fiction, including Demon High is just $.99 (digital edition only). I certainly couldn’t do that with NY.

Lori Devoti

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Don't forget about Lori's March Madness Sale!!  All her self-published digital titles are $0.99 in March.  

Note:  To get Demon High on Smashwords for the sale price just use coupon code MD28J at checkout.

Lori Devoti worked for three different newspapers in two different states before deciding to stay home with her children and begin writing fiction. The multi-published author of urban fantasy, contemporary romance and paranormal romance, Lori has been a finalist for many awards including the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award. Her books have received numerous Top Pick designations from Romantic Times and appeared on Bookscan’s top 100 selling romances. As an instructor she has taught at the University of Wisconsin Write by the Lake program, various writing conferences and conducted online workshops. For Lori's current online classes visit

She lives near Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and children as well as two dogs.

 Thanks so much joining us today Lori! 


  1. Very cool post. Thanks for the information.

  2. It's great to see more NY published authors taking this route. If anything, it lends more credibility to self-publishing. It's a win-win for readers and authors alike. It certainly has been great for me as a non-NY published author.

  3. Thanks for sharing your decision-making process with us, Lori. It's a great, new world for authors and readers. I'm in the middle of reading Demon High and I love it!

  4. Thanks, everyone. I'm glad you found the post useful.
    And thanks, Kathy! :)

  5. And thanks, Michelle for inviting me!

  6. Another thank you for this post. It's inspiring, in short.

    I definitely look forward to reading your work. I've discovered so many wonderful authors thanks to blogs, my Kindle and Amazon's self publishing service. All the reading I've done on the querying and publishing process makes me wonder just how many I would have missed out on otherwise.

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  8. Thanks for the interview and post. It is so hard as a first time indie author to understand anything about working with the big publishing houses. All we hear about is those that have tried to get in and can't. It's nice to read something from a person that's been on both sides. Great interview Michelle.

  9. Great piece, motivating. I will keep it and read it those months when sales are grim.

    Welcome to the Fantastic World of Independent Authors & Publishers.

  10. I loved the post! Very informative, Lori. I haven't been pubbed in NY, but then I never attempted. I have published traditionally and am inspired by INDIE authors like Tina Folsum, Zoe Winters and now you. It proves we can strike out on our own successfully. I have released some of my books (contracts ran out) on Amazon as self-pubbed. Wish me luck, and best of wishes to you in all future writing endeavors. I'm off to buy Demon High,

    Kudos, Keta Diablo


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