My husband, Dr. Roger McIntire, and I started our own publishing company 20-some years ago. He writes practical books for parents and his books have been published by mainstream publishers, but he got tired of their mediocre marketing efforts and decided he’d rather publish his books himself and retain control.

Fortunately, I’ve been in the writing and publishing business most of my professional life, so I had skills that complemented his in establishing our small press. I also joined the Independent Book Publishing Association, which provides invaluable expertise, information, education and marketing opportunities. Our books have received excellent reviews, won the approval of the Parents’ Choice Foundation, and been translated and published in eight other countries.

In the last five years, we developed the imprint, Amanita Books, to publish my fiction, which now numbers five novels. My novels also receive excellent reviews.

Still, when we discuss our books, we feel the stigma of being self-published, and no matter how good my reviews are or how much people say they enjoy my books, I cannot participate as an author or presenter at the Malice Domestic Conference.

This conference would be a natural for my books, especially the 90s Club cozy mysteries.

Another major barrier is that the major reviewing magazines—the ones libraries refer to in buying books–generally exclude self-publishers. A couple will review your book if you pay a fee, but then you wonder how much that review is really worth.

I am proud of my novels and I’m glad I went the self-publishing route. Seeking validation, I did approach a number of agents and a couple of mystery publishers at first without success. That could have discouraged me enough to quit. I’m sure many exceptional writers have succumbed to the lack of encouragement from agents and publishers, not because their writing was poor or their plots boring or badly executed or the formatting and presentation were unprofessional.
No, the reasons for rejection could be totally unrelated:
* The agent’s first reader was hungover or depressed or upset or otherwise unreceptive.
* The agent’s perception of how well your book might do in the current marketing trends was negative.
* The agent or first reader doesn’t relate to your generation or personality or characters.
* Other concerns unrelated to the merit of your book.

I’ve met or listened to a number of agents at writers’ conferences and many of them are youngish (late 20s, early 30s), varnished by New York, and adept at handling cocktails. They think well of themselves, generally, and why not? The whole writing community grovels at the feet of these gatekeepers. But in the end, your guess is as good as theirs. I have not been impressed, and I think I would find most of them uninteresting to talk with.

I would rather put my faith in the industry reviews and reader comments than in the opinions of agents and other publishers who have their own agendas, none of which include you and your manuscript. Don’t look to them to judge whether your manuscript is worthy of publication.

Self-publishing has helped me develop as a writer, speaker and workshop leader. This would not have happened if I had wallowed in the stagnant swamp of agent rejections.

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