Five Reasons I Love Self-Publishing

With my book, The Illuminator’s Gift, releasing on Amazon in just 9 days, I’m almost done with this whirlwind publishing process. Not much time to sit back and relax yet, but it does give me pause to ask myself: is the self-publishing journey worth it?

Cover preview 1
A sneak peek at the book cover! Credit: Amalia Hillmann

Though the process isn’t yet finished, I’d say quite confidently, yesHere are five reasons I’m happy (so far) with the decision to self-publish:

1. I like a job where I get to wear a lot of hats. As you may know, when I was in kindergarten, I wanted to grow up to be EVERYTHING. Little did I know that I’d get my wish. Since jumping into self-publishing, I’ve gotten to dabble in tax and copyright law and dabble in typography, write contracts and write PR materials, learn the difference between a domain name and a web host and learn the difference between watercolor and acrylic paint. I’ve found myself good at some of these things and bad at others, but it’s all an adventure.

2. It’s been a real blessing and privilege to work with friends instead of New York businesspeople (nothing against them). And this is not only because it’s nice to have a say in the final look and feel of my book. It’s also nice to take breaks from spacing ellipses and evaluating thumbnails to chat about church, relationships, travels. To compare coffee flavors and car gas mileage. To make excited noises about the beauty we’re co-creating. To work alongside other young creatives looking for a place to penetrate the forest canopy.

Cover preview 2
Credit: Amalia Hillmann

3. Going to “the publishing house” in my pajamas is a pretty cushy perk! Especially when I contract a very obnoxious illness just weeks before the release date.

4. I’m watching myself develop new traits, from learning the art of the diplomatic e-mail, to accurately budgeting time and money, to negotiating mutually beneficial agreements, to multitasking effectively, to making important decisions without dwelling or worrying. Some of these new skills go against my natural grain. But self-publishing a book that’s very close to my heart has given me the necessary push to face some fears and grow up a little more.

5. On December 2nd, I plan to be viewing my published book on Amazon.com. With a traditional publisher, my five-years-in-the-making manuscript could have waited an additional year or more to see the light of day. Publishing a book in seven weeks is definitely not something I recommend trying at home or plan on repeating, but with self-publishing, it can be done. All the concentrated labor and anguish will be over very soon, and it will be worth it to hold that sweet, 6×9 rectangle of paper and fresh ink in my hands. 

Cover preview 3
Credit: Amalia Hillmann

The Illuminator’s Gift will be available on Amazon.com December 2nd! In the meanwhile, I’d be delighted to have you sign up for my e-mail newsletter, like my Facebook page, or follow on Twitter using the buttons in the right sidebar 🙂

Literature, Kniterature

Today I’m tickled to host my second-ever author interview! My good friend Audry Nicklin has designed, written, and published Lit Knits, a book of ten knitting patterns inspired by works of classic literature that allow you to “wear your favorite story.” 

What a delicious stack of old books!
Ever since I decided I wanted to be a writer at age 14, I’ve loved reading interviews with authors. I love to get inside their heads and learn their habits and tips. Maybe it’s my secret hope that the literary prowess will rub off. 

Let’s go behind the scenes of a real live author’s creative process. Welcome to my virtual living room, Audry! 

1. We all know that a book takes a long time to produce. How long has your book been in the making, from concept to publication?


This book has been a long time coming. It took me roughly 2.5 years from concept to publication. And within that 2.5 years, I was also working part time at a yarn shop and submitting patterns to other publications.
2. How did you get the idea for Lit Knits?

After reading Anne of Green Gables in early 2011, I was inspired to make a shawl that had bits of the story knit into it. So I made up a stitch pattern that looked like the house, Green Gables. Below that I knit a texture of a fence followed by a field of flowers leading down to the Lake of Shining Waters. 

The “Avonlea” shawl from Lit Knits. I love Anne of Green Gables!
After completing the shawl, I started working on a pair of mittens inspired by the white rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. One thing led to another and I realized that I had a solid theme for a collection of patterns. It did take some time to figure out how to make the collection as cohesive as possible. I thought about doing a knit for A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens and one for The Raven by Poe. But Anne of Green Gables and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderlandare considered classic children’s literature, so I kept within that theme.

3. Of the 10 patterns in the book, which is your favorite?


I can’t say that they are all my favorite, can I?

Each pattern represents a different part of my knitting journey, so I like each one for a different reason. “Down The Rabbit Hole” is based on one of my favorite childhood stories. But the “Robin Hoodie” represents the culmination of all my knitting abilities. I couldn’t have written that pattern when I started the book. But I gained enough experience while writing the other patterns to make it a reality. 

The “Robin Hoodie,” the culmination of all of Audry’s knitting abilities.
4. What would be the 11th work of literature you would add if you could?

This collection almost had 12 patterns. Before I designed each garment, I read the book I wanted to base the knit on. I read Little Women and Heidi, but when it came down to it, I had trouble designing knits that didn’t look kitschy. So I cut the collection down to 10 patterns.

5. The photography in your book is incredible. However, we all know that serene images don’t always come from serene photo shoots. What were some funny stories that happened while you were taking pictures for this book?

Well, you were part of one of the more amusing photo shoots. Since the socks you modeled were Black Beauty themed, we needed to have horses in the background. After getting permission to go to a field where there were horses, we couldn’t find them! It took a good half hour of circling around groves of trees before we found the herd. Then three curious horses came over to investigate. Just as we would shoo one away from the equipment, another one would sneak up and have a look. I still have horse spit stains on my camera bag.


Glamor? More like cold mist, grass stains, allergies, and horse spit. Photo credit: Juliet Nicklin
I know you were cold during that shoot since it started to mist by the end of it, and I had horrible allergies for two days afterwards because I spent the entire time with my face practically rubbing the grass. And I never did get those grass stains out of my jeans.

6. I know you made extreme efforts to use authentic props in your photo shoots. What was the coolest prop you collected for this book?

I was lucky to have all sorts of neat props for this book. But my favorite prop was the real Piece of Eight that I used in the “Sail To Treasure Island” shoot. It came from my Opa’s coin collection and was minted in 1744 during King Philip V of Spain’s rule. 

The “Sail To Treasure Island” blanket, its inspiring book, a compass, and a real Piece of Eight. 

7. Okay, let’s get into your secrets of creative success. On a “normal” day, what does your creative routine look like?

I know some people like to have strict time schedules. I find that keeping up with a schedule stresses me out, so I just have an order I do things. I’ll get up mid to late morning, shower, and walk the dog, Scooter. Then I walk myself to and from a local coffee shop to get tea, after which I eat lunch and read a little bit of a book before I sit down and work. I typically make a list of what needs to be done the night before, so I just start working down the list. Then it is a second dog walk followed by more work. After eating dinner, I might watch a little TV with Scooter while knitting. (He gets grumpy if he doesn’t get at least a half hour of TV time.) 

Audry’s four-legged creative muse, Scooter.
Depending on what stage I’m at in a design, I might be doing “work” knitting or “personal” knitting. After TV time with Scooter, he and I head to bed, where I might work into the wee hours if things are going well. If not, I give up and go to bed. Before my head hits the pillow, I’ll typically list a few things that need to get done the next day.

8. 2 1/2 years of dedicated work is a lot. What kept you from quitting on this project when the road got tough?

My options were to either finish the book or go look for another job. Working on the book looked like the better option. After a while, I had told so many people about the book that it would have been terribly embarrassing to not finish. So avoiding humiliation is what kept me going after a while. That, and I didn’t want to disappoint my parents.

9. Self-publishing v. traditional publishing is a big conversation in the book world these days. Why did you choose to self-publish rather than seek traditional publication? Are you glad you did?

I chose to self-publish because I didn’t want to sign over the rights to my work. The thought that a publisher could do one print run and let the book go out of print was a little too much to take. However, this also means that I am in charge of all the promotion. So while part of me is frustrated that I don’t have the resources to promote Lit Knits as widely as a publisher could, I’m still satisfied that I’ve chosen to self-publish. I’ve been lucky that my background is in print design. I don’t think I could have done it myself without that experience.

I’d say she did a pretty good job designing her own cover.

10. Now that Lit Knits is done, do you have another creative project in the works? Can you give us any hints?

I think I’ll always be working on some sort of knit. I have 2-3 more book ideas, but at the moment, I’m working on some single-pattern proposals for knitting magazines. It’s been interesting seeing how each of my previous jobs has led to the next. I look forward to seeing where this book takes me.
Thanks for having me, Alina!



My pleasure! It was a fun privilege for me to both copyedit the manuscript of Lit Knits and model a pair of socks. But above all, seeing my friend successfully pioneer her own book enterprise inspires me to take my own novel seriously and see it to completion. 

If you love to knit, know someone who does, or just like whimsical pictures of cool, literature-inspired clothes, check out the book on Audry’s web site. She’s got a special preorder deal going until September 25. You can also find her author page on Facebook.
Have more questions? Leave a comment! Audry and I will both be around for some Q&A! 
Unless otherwise noted, all photos are courtesy of Audry Nicklin. 

11 Questions for a Real Live Author

Ever wondered what a day in the life of a published author is like? Does the muse sing gracefully while fingers race on the keyboard to keep up? Or is it more like piles of coffee cups and shredded drafts? Do published authors have second jobs? What are their geeky secrets? And what do they think about e-books vs. paper?

Free image courtesy of stock.xchng and nkzs

Well, today we’re lucky enough to find out, because I’m doing my first author interview on this blog! Local author (and my good friend) Angela Wallace has just self-published her 5th title, an urban fantasy called Earth Tones, which is the third in her Elemental Magic series. She is now sitting in my virtual living room, ready to reveal her secrets. Muahaha.

I mean, welcome, Angela.


1. Let’s talk about book love (since that’s obviously one of my favorite topics). How old were you when you fell in love with reading? Can you remember what book/ books inspired you? 

I fell in love with reading the moment I learned how. I’d go to every Scholastic book fair and read enough books to get a prize every time. Some of my favorite books were Tamora Pierce’s quartets Song of the Lioness and The Immortals. They started with a young child with dreams or special powers, and the books followed their growth into young adulthood. I loved the journey. And the fantasy worlds. 😉


2. What was the first story you ever finished about? 

It was a YA sci-fi about a teenage rebel group in a post-apocalyptic United States. I guess the correct term would be dystopian, but it was heavy with space pods and ray guns. I wrote it when I was ten.



3. If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why? 


A. W. Tozer. I love his book, The Pursuit of God, and I imagine it would be an extraordinary conversation.


4. Juggling jobs is one of my biggest challenges. How does a published author support herself? Is writing your only job? 

I’m also a sign language interpreter. I work at a couple local colleges interpreting classroom lectures. It’s great because I get to keep learning new subjects, but don’t have to work for a grade!


5. What is the geekiest thing about you? Because we have to know 🙂

I know how to write a form of Tolkien’s elvish runes. I used to exchange letters with a friend in high school written in them. It also makes a very handy code to keep passwords in.

6. What are some of the weirdest ways you’ve gotten story ideas? 

Dreams, for one. I’ve dreamed a few complete story plots from beginning to end, though they don’t often get written down. If I could just dream about the novels I’m actually working on, I could save time!


7. Now that you can look back on the completion of your latest book, Earth Tones, what was your favorite part of writing this book? 

Hm, I think it was getting to know a new main character, plus getting to play with a new element. There was a lot more opportunity for Nita to communicate with animals, and the earth wielding in fight scenes was fun too.


Angela’s latest book, Earth Tones, is the third in her Elemental Magic series.

8. You publish both paper books and e-books. As an avid reader yourself, which do you prefer, and why? 

It depends. I do like paper books, seeing the cover on the front, seeing my progress as I turn the pages. But some of them are really fat and it hurts my wrist to hold them, lol. Then I like e-books better because it’s much lighter to carry around.

9. Online self-publishing gets a lot of media attention these days. So what do you like about self-publishing? 

I like keeping control over my story. (Yes, I’m a control freak.) I also like working at my own pace. I can be a drill sergeant on myself, but am well aware that “life happens.” It’s easier to give myself permission to be flexible than it is to ask for it from someone else.


10. Anything you don’t like about it?  

The marketing, lol. Though, traditionally published authors have to do much the same. Putting together this blog tour was a big step for me!


11. Are there are any fun scenes in Earth Tones that didn’t end up in the final draft? 

There was this cute scene I wanted to use, but it just didn’t fit anywhere in the story. Nita and her boyfriend Keenan are leaving the house when they find a moose on the porch. I learned that this is a very dangerous situation and that people are actually trapped in their homes until the moose decides to leave on its own. Now, Nita could just tell the moose to get lost with her earth magic, but instead she says they’ll have to put their plans on hold, and with a suggestive smile, hints that they can figure out something else to fill their time with.

Thank you for your time and insights, Angela! 


If Earth Tones captures your fancy, check it out on Amazon

And watch the book trailer on Youtube (trailers aren’t just for movies anymore)! Authors nowadays–especially self-published–are Jacks and Jills of many trades, and Angela turned moviemaker to promote her new book. Check it out.  


You can also read the book description:


Nita Young doesn’t know if she has a future with college sweetheart Keenan Donovan—two star-crossed lovers of opposing elements—but she invites him up to Alaska to see if Earth and Water can rekindle their old flame. When a series of wild animal attacks strike the inhabitants of Yakutat, Nita has to put her romantic plans on hold. Mangled bodies are turning up, and a mysterious black panther has been spotted in the woods. Fur, scales, and a venomous bite suggest the cat is supernatural in origin—and evidence indicates that someone not only summoned it, but is using it to target those Nita cares about. It’s the perfect murder weapon: no fingerprints, no evidence. And in a town this small, the killer is someone she knows. Nita’s strength will be put to the test as she faces losing her friends, her town, and the man she loves.


To connect with Angela:
Angela Wallace loves gun-toting good boys and could have been a cop in another life except for the unfortunate condition of real blood making her queasy. Good thing writing gun and sword fights isn’t a problem. In her books you’ll find the power of love, magic, and redemption. 

Blog: http://angelawallace.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Angela-Wallace-Author/232511253453440
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelaRWallace

I hope you enjoyed this interview! If you leave a comment to this post, both Angela and I will be answering them today. Open Q&A time. Hint, hint 🙂