“My Very Own Lemonade Stand”
The Perks of Self-Publishing and How I Made Lemonade from Lemons
by Author Erin Lee
As many of you know, I began a three-part series—“Lola, Party of Eight”—with Limitless Publishing in March. I was later informed that they will not be publishing the rest of the Lola series and that all rights to Host and Merge, the second and third books in the series, revert back to me. Of course, the news was initially disappointing. However, I can’t say it was unexpected. While I’ve tried my hand at other genres, I’m no good at them. Because of this, it didn’t take me long to figure out what was best for me. For me, and for my readers, I needed to stay true to myself and my genre. It’s important for me to spread awareness about mental illness and a shaky system. These are the things I care about, but aren’t often popular in general fiction. That is, books about child abuse, law, and mental health conditions, aren’t generally the ones that make it to the top of the best seller list.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m an optimist. It may be part of my own insanity. Or, it could be that someone has to say everything is going to be okay. I am, after all, a therapist by day. I’m also like a walking spoiler alert: You know there will be a happy ending if you stick around long enough. I insist on it. For these reasons, I refused to let this bump in the road stop me. Without time to shop around for another publisher mid-series—readers generally want follow-up books within four months—I decided to remain committed to helping reduce stigma around mental illness and publish Host and Merge myself. The support I’ve received for this decision has been overwhelming.
Thank you to all at Limitless who have supported me in my work. The connections and friends I have made are priceless. I see this as a new opportunity for me to explore hybrid publishing and am excited to see where this journey brings me. To my readers, who understand and appreciate my message, I could not do this without you. Your messages, kind words, and reviews are what keep me going. You are the sugar on a lemon, and together, we will make lemonade. I’m pleased to announce, that, for you, I will be publishing Host, Book Two of the Lola series, on July 4, 2016 – Independence Day. I need your support more than ever now. Stay tuned for updates! The Host cover reveal is set for June 14, 2016 with Rock Your World Designs. The cover is stunning, as was Alters, and I can’t wait to show it to you all. Merge is set for release on Nov. 11, 2016. I also have two stand-alone novels coming this year – When I’m Dead on Aug. 8, 2016 and 99 Bottles on Dec. 31, 2016.
In talking with other authors, I’ve learned that I’m far from alone. With a flooded market, many are facing tough decisions about what to do with cancelled series or submission rejections. Defeated, they are coming to me in groups and alone to ask how I’m doing what I’m doing. The answer is simple: I’m just doing it. I’ve been asked by several authors and bloggers to write about my experiences with self-publishing and to create a step-by-step ‘how to’ guide. “But how are you doing it?” they ask, like I’m some sort of magician. Really, I’m not. I promise. I’m just stubborn. (By the way, neither are publishers, I’ve learned). With that said, I’m not sure I can answer this question concisely. That ‘how-to’ essay was the one writing assignment I always dreaded. I never could quite figure out how to explain, in words, how to make a peanut butter sandwich. But I’ll give it my best shot, for you, my fellow authors whose publishers have closed or have decided to go in another direction:
Author Erin Lee’s Guide to Self-Publishing – (building your own lemonade stand)
I’ve only described how I self-publish here because it’s the only way I know. I do know that there are many publishers out there who
Is it more work to self-publish? For sure. Will people doubt the quality of your work and maybe even ask why you couldn’t find a “real” publisher? You bet. Be prepared for it! Will you doubt yourself? Are you human? Are you a writer? By now, you are used to self-doubt. You wrote a novel! I’ve experienced every type of doubt you can imagine. I also remember, one day, about a decade ago, seeing two kids on the side of the road selling lemonade. I have no idea how they did it or what they did, but it was the best lemonade I have ever tasted. I haven’t been able to find it since. I remember them telling me they made it all on their own. So when I get self-doubt, I think of them. In fact, because I can and no one can stop me, I may just add them into my dedications.
Sure, I could have let my series die. Or let interest in it die as I waited for publishers to dig through submission piles. And, yes, I know I’m taking a risk. But why not? I don’t have anything to lose. I couldn’t lose Lola and the alter egos who live inside of her; not without a fight. I have no idea how good my lemonade will be or even what my exact recipe is. I keep putting on the sugar, tasting it, and playing with it. Now, with covers I can’t stop looking at, a team of betas about as faithful as it gets, and a whole lot of belief in myself, I have a feeling I’ll find my happy ending. And, like I’ve said before, it’s not about the happy ending, it’s about the story.
Will I ever return to traditional publishing? Probably. I’ve heard the best way to approach this industry is through hybrid publishing. I already see the pros and cons of both. At the moment, I’m enjoying the artistic creativity self-publishing affords me. To other writers out there, if you are intimidated by this process and have been traditionally published, I really encourage you to at least consider giving this a shot. It’s so much easier than I anticipated. I have learned something new every day. It turns out, the lemonade recipe is the same, no matter how big or small you are – lemons, water, and sugar. It’s just how much sweetness you can stand or if you like it a little sourer. Go for it! I support you and will help in any way I can. You’d be surprised who else will step up to support you too. We are all so blessed to be part of such a rich community of people who understand the industry and support one another. I’m off, I need some signs for this lemonade stand.
Erin Lee is a freelance writer and therapist living with her family in New England. She is the author of Crazy Like Me, a novel published in 2015 by Savant Books and Publications, LLC, Wave to Papa, 2015, by Limitless Publishing and Nine Lives, 2016. She’s also author of Alters, 2016, the first book in the Lola series, and is currently writing Merge, the final book in the series. Upcoming novels also include When I’m Dead, Love Like Crazy and 99 Bottles.
Lee has also published numerous magazine articles, particularly on the topic of mental illness. She recently contributed to the Anonymous anthology, in support of the Semi Colon Project with her short story, “One Good Reason.” Her work can also be found in Love, Always, an anthology put out as a gift to readers. Her psychological thriller, “Rest in Peace?” will be featured in Limitless’ Thirteen anthology, released in October, 2016, in support of mental wellness.
Lee holds a master’s degree in psychology and works with at-risk families and as a court appointed special advocate.
Her work can be found at: www.authorerinlee.com,
on Goodreads, Author Erin Lee,
on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gonecrazytalksoon
and on twitter at @Crazylikeme2015.
So excited to be part of a new author cross promotion group where I'll be sharing great reads, upcoming releases, cover reveals and more. Stay tuned!