Why I decided to self-publish my own YA novel

After gathering dust in a three-ring binder for nearly five years, I recently put my young adult fiction novel, Alice Murphy’s Preservation out into the world.

I started writing this book from my dorm room as a college freshman. I always wanted to write and felt that if I didn’t try to write something substantial in college, I would never write and that scared me.

My main character, fifteen-year-old Alice Murphy, is annoyed by people who use the word “ambiguous” too often in English class. She keeps a list of phone numbers collected from bathroom stalls and various graffiti. That way if anything bad ever happens to her, she’ll find a stranger to take comfort in. Alice is shy and scared and at times, even complacent. At the same time though, she possesses an inner strength and pride in who she is.

I used to hang the pages of my novel on the walls of my small dorm room. One of my professors told me that William Faulkner used to do that to help him with the structure of his books. I liked this idea, only it struck me as careless on William Faulkner’s part. I mean, he probably only had one copy of his book at a given time. What if the pages blew away?

I’d sometimes forget that the pages were there during the week. I was so used to seeing them on my walls. And then I’d wake up in the morning and feel completely engulfed by the world I’d created.

After rewriting my novel completely several times and attending my school’s writing conference, I found a literary agent my senior year. I tried to get it published only I was repeatedly told that my book wasn’t very marketable.

At this point, I’m almost finished writing my second novel . The idea of waiting any longer for someone else’s permission to put my writing out into the world seems ridiculous to me. The idea of waiting for someone else’s permission to do anything is ridiculous. If you take the time to create something, it’s important to breathe life into it and allow it to exist in the world.

With this in mind, I self-published my book in October.

I can obviously only speak from my own experience, but I think self-publishing works particularly well for books that appeal to a niche audience. My novel presents an unglamorous, unflashy account of high school.  Plus, I have a distinct sense of humor. Books like mine fare well in their tidy little corner of the Internet.

Self-publishing is also a good fit for me personality-wise. I’m more than willing to fight for my work. My book is after all, something I created and feel passionately about. At the same time, I’m also able to take a few steps back from my writing and look at it from a business perspective. This is hard to do with something that you’re emotionally invested in, but completely necessary when you’re trying to promote your work.

Alice Murphy’s Preservation is currently available as an ebook on Amazon.  I have plans to roll it out to other ebook platforms in a couple months. Publishing it on Amazon was more or less a matter of formatting the manuscript properly and selecting an appropriate cover.

The cover was an important creative decision for me. That is, afterall, what everyone sees. After exploring a number of different options, I decided to design the cover myself. I wanted it to be authentic to the book and more specifically, to Alice Murphy’s character. The cover re-creates a scene in the book in which one of the characters tries to have an epiphany on cue.

It’s been a great experience for me so far. Above all, I feel relieved. The reception of my book has been positive. Through my marketing efforts and work on this, I’ve been able to connect with other writers. I’ve found the sense of community that my creative life has lacked for some time now.

As a general rule, good things will come to you when you put yourself and your work out there. If you don’t put yourself out there, it’s impossible for anything to ever happen.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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