Last week I attended an interesting panel discussion at Book Passage, my favorite bookstore. Four authors who self-publish (including two mystery writers!)  talked about why they’ve chosen to go the independent publishing route.

Laurie McAndish King has been published in numerous anthologies and self-publishes collections of her travel stories.


Susan McGowan writes a series of tarot-themed mysteries under the name of Bevan Atkinson:


Todd Crawshaw is a graphic designer who writes across multiple genres, from fantasy to religion.

Nicola Twrst writes a series of mysteries set in Marin County.

Their reasons for self-publishing vary, from wanting to have complete control over the content—no editors requesting more of whatever is the latest trend—to the desire to bypass the wait for a literary agent and for their book to sell.

All have had success and encouraged the audience to dive in. For a relatively modest financial outlay, you can make your book available to readers—whether as an e-book, a print book, or both. And it’s simple to make your book accessible for bookstores to order. Since most bookstores shun Amazon, it’s best to create your own publishing imprint. You can still produce your book through Amazon’s KDP service, but the publisher of record will be whatever name you set up. It’s important to also publish via Ingram Sparks, thereby enabling bookstores to order your book.

All four panelists emphasized the need for a good editor and proofreader, the importance of professional cover design, and the need to promote your work. Some authors did their own publicity, mostly through Facebook and Amazon ads. One writer hired a publicist since she had no desire to take that task on. And another writer wanted to create works that he was proud of and wasn’t concerned with sales.

So whatever motivates you, if you have a story to tell and want to get it out in the world, there’s very little standing in your way.