a good choice when a novel defies easy classification - meet Amy L. Bernstein, Award-winning novelist/journalist, book coach
Dreams of Song Times - An explosive fantasy of love, loss, and redemption. A mermaid full of secrets, on the run, and ready to risk everything for a future she never saw coming. Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Kobo
Why did you decide to self-publish? Did you have any doubts?
I chose to self-publish Dreams of Song Times because the novel defies easy classification by genre, which makes it more difficult to place with an agent or an independent publisher. It’s a coming-of-age story with elements of magical realism mixed in with politics, social justice, and violence. Hmmm, what shelf does that book belong on?
By self-publishing, I could define the story and its place in the literary marketplace on my own terms. I did have concerns and doubts about doing this. Chief among them: Would I market the book adequately to generate sales? Would the book garner positive reviews, especially since I didn’t vet it through traditional channels?
What did you like best?
Once I’d published the book, I came to appreciate having full control over the marketing strategies I pursued and being able to offer discounts for promo purposes. What I appreciated most, however, were all the positive reviews the book received that directedly reflected all my hard work. There was no intermediary editor or beta reader. I really just put it out there (after many rewrites and much consideration). So the positive feedback was validating.
What was the hardest part?
I believe self-publishing has some real drawbacks—or at least, let’s call them trade-offs. There’s no validating organization behind you to promote the book or tell the world that someone besides you believes in it. Many respectable reviewing outlets still will not review self-published books. Bookstores are not keen to promote in-store sales or readings of self-published books. And marketing has been, as I suspected, challenging, even though I’m active on all major social media platforms.
There is still a whiff of stigma, or suspicion, around self-published fiction—that it’s not as good as other books, or that self-publishing is a vanity endeavor.
Would you do it again?
I don’t plan to self-publish again—or at least, not in the foreseeable future. My goal is to secure an agent or another traditional publishing contract for future work.
What advice do you have for authors just starting?
First-time authors who plan to self-publish should begin with an open-minded exploration of the full publishing landscape. It’s easy to fall back on the assumption that having complete control over your book is the best option—but that is not always the case. A traditional publisher, even a small one with a good reputation, can help a writer with professional formatting and cover design, obtaining an ISBN, doing some publicity, brand-building, and supporting future work.
New authors should embark on self-publishing with their eyes wide open. It’s important to get educated on all the time and money that goes into self-publishing in a reasonably professional way, ranging from cover design to scheduling cover reveals and giveaways, developing marketing campaigns, and finding readers and reviewers.
Amy L. Bernstein writes stories that let readers feel while making them think. Her novels include The Potrero Complex, finalist for the 2020 Petrichor Prize; the award-winning The Nighthawkers; Dreams of Song Times; and Fran, The Second Time Around. Amy’s poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies and she is a regular contributor on Medium. She is an award-winning journalist, speechwriter, playwright, and certified nonfiction book coach. Amy also teaches workshops on various aspects of the craft of writing. She is a frequent guest on podcasts to discuss writing, publishing, and creativity. She lives and writes in Baltimore, Maryland, which often inspires her poetry and fiction. In addition to Baltimore you can find Amy at https://amywrites.live
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