Saying Yes to Self-Publishing Your Novel: My Story

How many of you have a partially written or completely written novel stashed in a drawer or on your computer, destined never to see the light of day?

How many of you have been working and working on this novel – reading books on writing, taking writing classes, participating in writers groups, hiring editing talent – only to be told by a book agent or New York publisher that this type of book isn’t what’s selling?

If so, it’s time to stop waiting for someone else to say yes to you and instead say yes to yourself. Let me tell you my story:

My experience as a new Mrs. Lieutenant

I was a new Mrs. Lieutenant in the spring of 1970 during the Vietnam War. I spent nine weeks with women whom I never would have met had it not been for the army. From that day on I wanted to tell this story.

Spring forward about 20 years, and two female Hollywood film producers option the story. But then they tell me I have to write the book. By the time I write the first draft, they have moved on to other projects.

Learning to write as a novelist

Thus began a long journey of learning how to change my writing style from being a journalist to a novelist. And writing and rewriting and rewriting. All along, I knew that my story would interest women. Yet the novel was rejected over and over again by agents and editors. (One New York editor told me readers would never buy a story in which four women come together because of their husbands. Another New York editor said that, as there was no longer any racial discrimination, no one would be interested in this story.)

The epiphany moment

One day I got an email from a good friend that she forwarded from an acquaintance, who said she was tired of waiting for people to say yes to her and she was going to self-publisher her novel. The light bulb went off. I was too old to wait any longer.

Within days I had contracted with BookSurge, Amazon’s print-on-demand unit. And soon afterwards (although totally unrelated) I learned that MRS. LIEUTENANT was a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. That recognition accidentally sent me into the world of internet marketing, in which I became immersed, as well as showed me that my instincts about my novel were correct. There were readers for the book even though there weren’t editors or agents for it.

MRS. LIEUTENANT was published in April, and it’s received good reviews on book blogs throughout the blogosphere. (You can read the first four chapters at

Now it’s your turn

I want to encourage all of you who have unpublished novels to dust them off and review what stage they are in. (For example, if the manuscript needs proofreading, several of the self-publishers provide this additional service.)

Here’s a resource I didn’t have when I made my decision to go with BookSurge, but which is available now thanks to Stacie Vander Pol’s book TOP SELF PUBLISHING FIRMS. (Full disclosure: Stacie asked me to review this book for Amazon, which I did.) She has done all the work of comparing self-publishing firms to make it easy for a novelist to choose which one to go with.

And there’s another resource available for you that I didn’t have – the website I just launched at Queens of Book Marketing. I spent almost 24/7 for months learning about internet marketing (I have an M.B.A. from 1980 so it doesn’t help much in this brave new world of the internet). And now I want to share my hard-earned internet marketing knowledge with you to make it easier for other novelists to follow in my footsteps.

And, oh, yes. If you are a novelist published by a traditional publisher, there’s plenty of internet marketing information for you, too, at Queens of Book Marketing. Because, as Rabbi Karen Fox and I learned in 1992 when our Jewish holiday book came out from the imprint of a major publisher, you still have to do almost all the marketing yourself.

About the Author

November is National Novel Writing Month, and is hosting a contest in conjunction with this event. You can read my blog post at to learn more about Redroom’s writing challenge.

Now pick up your pen or turn on your computer and start writing. It’s in your own hands whether your novel sees the light of day.

And connect with me on Twitter – my username is @ZimblerMiller.

Last 5 Articles Added By Phyllis Zimbler Miller

About Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is a National Internet Business Examiner at and the president of, which provides internet marketing information to help promote your brand, book or business. On July 1st the company will launch the Miller Mosaic Internet Marketing Program. Follow Phyllis on Twitter at

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