Self-publishing and why I chose this path — Lillian Archer


Prodigal Spell C

Bonjour! I am Lillian Archer, and I am tres excited to be posting on Magical Words today. Merci beaucoup to the MW team, and go buy some of their books.

My book, Prodigal Spell, is a historical fantasy set in 1790s London and the Caribbean at the height of British colonial expansion. It is the story of Julia Richmond, a London society wife, who is hiding her witchcraft from her husband, her friends, and the church. She must choose between the man she loves or a heritage she detests before a demon kills her father. It is a story about severely fractured people and relationships hiding in a historical fantasy.


I began my publishing journey like many others- I procured an agent, and then waited for a contract from a publishing house. Not a single house wanted to purchase the book. Several houses expressed interest, and I offered to rewrite my book, but the only suggestions most houses offered were to rewrite it as a romance. One problem- I am not a romance writer, and I do not want to be one.


You see, as a debut author in today’s publishing climate, the publishers we were speaking with had no idea how to market my book. It was a genre-blending affair, and that did not compute with their algorithms. An established author with a following like D.B. Jackson- sure, they would talk. But not to me.


Here is where I start making disclaimers. The opinions I am about to relate are mine alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Magical Words regular contributors, their agents, their publishers, etc. My opinions are such- not fact, and not applicable to everyone. Your mileage may vary. When I talk about self-publishing, I am specifically referring to ebook only format. Self-pubbed books as print books is a whole different post.


I decided to self-publish because at the root of the matter was my conviction that my work was too good to sit on my hard-drive collecting virtual dust. My agent, and others whose opinion I value (and not a one of them related to me) agreed. I started reading blogs, trolling the Kindle boards, and generally educating myself on self-pubbing.


Self-publishing is much like traditional publishing- all the same steps are present. I vetted and hired proofreaders, developmental editors, formatters, and cover artists. I coordinated all these professionals on a timeline to publication. I established accounts on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, a website with a blog, and Goodreads. I developed a marketing plan, established a budget, and kept the whole thing going, all while outlining and writing book two. I will be up on Wattpad with a few short stories based in this world later this year, because I want to use the same peeps and that is the time schedule I must work within.


The easiest part by far was actually uploading the files to the different websites. My formatters provided me with separate files for Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers, as well as simple directions to effect a successful upload. Tres easy.


The hardest part? Everything else. Maintaining a production schedule and sticking to it. Keeping on task to meet deadlines. Researching every step in the process, and ensuring I brokered with professionals and not scam predatory companies out to make money on my inexperience.


Self-publishing is a good decision for me because it allows me to place a niche product in the marketplace. This may not work depending on your genre- I am particularly thinking of children’s books, maybe even middle-grade books, picture books, or some non-fiction because the electronic format is not conducive to seeing those works in their intended consummation.


 All this to say that IMO, if someone wants to self-publish because they think that is a get-rich-quick scheme, then please reconsider. It is a lot of work for a questionable return on investment. If you want to self-publish because it offers a better business plan for you, then go for it. Just understand that in the end, we are all authors doing the same things- writing stories we hope entertain others. For me, anyway, that is my ultimate goal.

Lillian Archer bio:

Bonjour! I live in Virginia, love historical things, and have been known to hang about cemeteries or haunted places to talk with the natives. I run, so that I can work out plot details in my head. I cook when I have to, but it is magnificent when I do. I love the Caribbean, and ask me about hiking my first volcano there if you see me at a conference. My first work, Prodigal Spell, is available at Amazon. 


15 comments to Self-publishing and why I chose this path — Lillian Archer

  • Fellow self-publisher here, Lillian. I enjoyed your post. I went into self-pubbing for similar reasons – I want to write different stories that don’t necessarily slot neatly into a popular, guaranteed-to-sell genre. I’m only at the beginning of my journey too (just released my second book) and it is a lot of work. But, I have friends who are trying the traditional route and they seem to have to work just as hard for a smaller cut of the pie. If an author writes a good story, is prepared to listen to criticism and feedback, can hire professional help, and spend time marketing, then self-publishing is viable.

    HIstorical fantasy sounds right up my alley. I’ll check out your book 🙂

    Can I ask – have you formed an opinion of Wattpad yet? Do you think it will give you more exposure?

  • Hi Lillian! Great to see you here! Your book sounds like my kind of thing, so I’ll be checking it out shortly. 🙂

  • So nice to read a thoughtful explanation about why to self-pub. So much on the internet seems based on emotion and boils down to “self-pub sucks” or “traditional publishing sucks.” Thank you for your honesty (and your calm tone)!

  • Aderyn- I have not worked enough with Wattpad to have a formed an opinion. It started as a site for fan fiction, and that is still a large part of the offerings, but it is very easy for authors to put up shorter works to help build a fanbase. IMO, the more places you are, the better chance you have of connecting with readers. I know a fair number of self-pubbed authors who are actually putting the first book of a series on Wattpad, with the rest in the traditional channels for sale. Hope you enjoy Prodigal Spell, and feel free to reach out to me for more self-pub musings or questions on my website or email at

    Misty- yeah! I hope you enjoy it:)

  • Sisi- you are welcome! Publishing is a business, and the business plan that works for one author is not the best plan for another. We must each find our own path. Each choice has benefits and drawbacks. And, something I think gets lost in the kerfluffle, is that they are not mutually exclusive. I may write a book in the future that resonates with a publisher and is more commercially marketable for that venue. Many authors are pursuing “hybrid” careers and are quite happy.

  • mudepoz

    I know a lot of self-pubbed authors, and they do amazingly well. They do invest in excellent editors and cover artists. All of them are in erotica. It makes sense for them, and to everyone who has the ability to do it, that’s awesome. It’s a lot of work, but it appears to be fruitful if you do it well.

  • Lillian, Did we ever say?
    “A new voice in historical fantasy, Lillian Archer has it all. A must read!” -Faith Hunter, NYT Bestselling author of the Jane Yellowrock series.

    I BLURBED THIS BOOK! It’s that good! It’s soooo good.

  • *blushing*. Thank you, Faith.

  • I read the sample at amazon and it’s really good! I’m shocked no one snapped it up! The woman-centered historical fantasy genre needs to take off.

    I don’t really want to buy on amazon if I have a choice, but it doesn’t seem to be up on smashwords. Where else are you selling it? Are there links?

  • Hi Cara- right now, it is only available on Amazon, but will be on Smashwords and Kobo in a few months. You can follow me on twitter @lilliansbooks , my website or follow me on Facebook. I will announce through those media channels when everything is up and available for purchase on Smashwords or other retailers. So glad you enjoyed the sample!!

  • Thanks for your informative post! I too am considering self-publishing simply due to the fact that I am not sure that I can write “on demand” for a publisher. My schedule would make things difficult to do so, therefore, I think self-publishing might work better in that sense.

  • Thank you for flying the flag for self-publishing, Lillian. It’s great to hear someone give it an airing and being balanced about the whole thing. You’re right, it’s not a get rich quick scheme by any means, so if you think everyone is going to become a millionaire you’ll be sadly disappointed. That having been said, I too decided that I didn’t want my writing mouldering on my computer, and having looked at what it would take to even get an agent (especially here in the UK), I decided that I would rather get my work ‘out there’ and see what happened. That’s not to say that I would reject out of hand the offer of an agent &/or publisher, but I’m realistic over how heavily the odds are stacked aginst this actually happening, whatever the quality of my work. And yes, it is hard work doing all the extras, but I’m so glad I did it.

  • Congratulations! I wasn’t interested in why you chose to self-publish, not particularly in the market for that info at this time, but a quick scan of your second paragraph hit the jackpot. Your book sounds great. I bought it!

  • LinHutton- good luck with your endeavors!

    Pooks- hope you enjoy!

  • I’d like to hear more about why you decided only to publish in e-book format.