15 July 2013

Self-publishing vs Publishing with an Indie Press A Guest Post by Donald Dempsey

Books to be returned...
When I decided to write my book the thought of publishing it wasn't even a consideration. I thought it would wind up like most of my other projects, either a pile of notes or a few chapters sitting in a folder gathering dust. Unlike previous attempts to put my thoughts or ideas into words, my memoir poured out of me. I've often said this story virtually wrote itself. Many was the time I reread something I’d written and found myself surprised by the content. After I finished Betty’s Child, I had no idea what to do with it. My wife and some close friends urged me to try and get it published, so I researched how to go about doing so. I put together query letters and submitted them to agents and publishers, rarely hearing back from them. The closest I came to success was garnering some interest from an agent who was about to retire, but she couldn't get anyone else to take on the book due to a downsizing of publishers and agents. Eventually, I gave up. I don’t remember who first suggested it or how self-publishing became an option, but somehow I became involved with a company called IUniverse. From the very beginning, it was a very unpleasant experience. I never dealt with the same person, and it was always another fee to take the next unexpected step. Undisclosed charges were frequent. If I paid for this service it would increase my chances of attracting a publisher. If I agreed to pay more money for certain packages or services my book would be available to a wider market. There was always one reason or another to pay more money. My frustration mounted. It wasn’t very long before I wished I had just left my book in the drawer where I’d tossed it. Nothing they promised me was ever delivered. Betty’s Child sold a few copies now and then, but not much else happened. Even though I felt the book was meaningful and had a message worth putting out, I soon gave up again. I stopped answering calls from IUniverse. Months passed. I threw all the extra copies in a box in my office and forgot about the book altogether. And then, out of the blue, Mike O’Mary from Dream of Things called me and asked to take a look at my book. He liked what some of the reviewers said. I sent him a copy and everything moved pretty quickly after that. Mike has been a publisher, editor, marketer, valuable source of information, and a friend. His belief in Betty’s Child rekindled my own. Mike’s knowledge of the ebook market opened up windows of opportunity I didn’t know existed. Without him, there wouldn’t be a Betty’s Child, so I find myself often saying the book is just as much his as mine. Of course, the irony here is that Dream of Things never would have noticed Betty’s Child if I hadn’t put myself through the torture of self-publishing. And I’ve heard of some very successful authors getting their start after first working with companies like IUniverse. For me, self-publishing was a very stressful experience. I tend to like things straightforward and forthright. So I’d hate to dissuade someone from chasing their dream of publication. My personal experiences may not reflect the norm.     

About the Author:
Don Dempsey experienced childhood abuse and neglect first hand, but went on to have a fulfilling family life as an adult and to own his own business. "If you're lucky, you make it to adulthood in one piece," says Don. "But there's no guarantee the rest of your life is going to be any better. Abused kids are often plagued by fear and insecurity. They battle depression and have trouble with relationships. In the worst cases, abused children perpetuate the cycle." But Don is living proof that you can overcome a childhood of abuse and neglect. "You start by letting go of as much of the guilt (yes, abused kids feel guilty) and as many of the bad memories as possible. At the same time, you hold on to the things that helped you survive. For me, it was the belief that you can make life better by working at it and earning it. It helps to have a sense of humor, too."
Find out more about the author by visiting him online:
Betty’s Child website:
Donald Dempsey Facebook: 

Enter to win a copy of Donald Dempsey's book, "Betty's Child'! Just leave a comment talking about your experiences or opinions with self-publishing (or indie-publishing) to enter. Contest ends July 26th.


  1. Wow this touched a nerve. The experience was very similar to my own - except for the publishing company - and the book was wriiten initially as blog posts. Also the childhood experiences are similar. Interesting.

  2. Wow, talk about a downward spiral with an upswing. Not all self-publishing is like that though and the choice is yours.

  3. Not speaking to anyone in particular - just throwing my two cents worth out into this great big world!

    In my humble opinion whether you are self-published or traditionally-published you are still an author and in the end, you wrote a book. I go back and forth about which is better and this is a conversation often had between writer friends ... in the end, all that matters is you accomplished your goal. Way to go Don - congratulations on publishing your memoir and thank you for speaking bravely about this controversial subject.


  4. Don: Thanks for sharing your thoughts on self-publishing -- and thanks for the kind words about me and Dream of Things. Just to add to the self-publish vs indie publisher discussion: It's a big challenge to write a book-length work. It's as big a challenge (if not bigger) to promote and market your book. If you are able to work with a publisher, they will ideally help you with marketing/promotion, although they will still say it's mainly up to you. At the very least, they should be able to provide you with low-cost and no-cost ideas to promote your book. In any case, whether you self-publish or are published by someone else, plan to keep working hard after the book is out. Look for economical ways to promote your book -- via a WOW! blog tour, for example, or via the many websites and e-newsletters that target e-book readers. Just keep at it!


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