We indie writers often talk about the breakthroughs we’ve made because of ebook publishing, but we forget to mention what an incredible innovation print-on-demand (POD) publishing for print books was. My guest today on How I First Published, Melissa McGovern Taylor, got her start with POD publishing and has a very encouraging story. Read on!
What was your first published novel?
My first published novel was The Road to Mercy, a Christian romance I began writing in 2001.
Was it a traditional publishing contract or did you go indie?
I decided to go with indie publishing through print-on-demand.
How did that come about?
I’d spent years submitting The Road to Mercy to publishers and agents. I did lots of editing. I finally got so tired of the rejection and bouts of editing and rewriting that I became sick of my own novel! I wanted so badly to hold the published book in my hands. At first, I looked into working with a self-publisher, but I couldn’t afford to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for boxes and boxes of books. When I found out about CreateSpace in 2010, I was intrigued. I did my homework and discovered that I had the computer skills to do my own book layout. I even have a husband who is a multimedia producer, so he knows photography and graphic design. He created the cover, and I’ve always loved it. I never wanted my book to look like it was self-published, and I’ve always been proud of its professional appearance.
How did this make you feel? Has it been as good as you expected, or a letdown, or exhausting, for example?
Holding the book in my hands was thrilling. I cried a little and had my husband take a picture of me holding it. I was excited, and I honestly felt like a real author. I knew I always was an author, but there’s something about holding that printed book in your hands that gives you that confirmation.
Tell us what’s happened with your writing journey since.
After publishing my first novel, I shared it with family and friends because I had no marketing budget. Their responses were touching. My grandfather ordered something like a dozen copies and gave them out as Christmas gifts! Another family friend did the same thing. Several women in my church read the book and gave me much praise for it. But it wasn’t until 2014, that the miracle of Kindle Direct really expanded my book’s reach. I published my novel digitally and did a freebie weekend. I was astounded at the number of downloads—over 4,000! Then the reviews rolled in. The Road to Mercy now has 44 reviews on Amazon, 32 of which are 5 stars. The funny thing is I can’t seem to give up on this book. Even though it’s published, I still make changes and submit it to agents from time-to-time. I’ve gotten as far as a complete manuscript read-through twice with the same agent! Even if this story never reaches a broader audience, I’ll be happy with this first edition. Since publishing The Road to Mercy, I’ve self-published a Christian YA novel (Enemy of Gideon), and finished a middle grades novella. Currently, I’m splitting my time between writing an MG fantasy novel and an MG historical novel.
Melissa McGovern Taylor has been writing fiction since she won her first writing contest as a kid. She’s not a genre writer but a storyteller, so the story might be a romance in North Carolina, a suspense in a post-apocalyptic future, or a fantasy adventure in another realm. She has a BA in writing from Methodist University, and her writing credits include fiction and nonfiction in local, national, and international publications. In 2011, she received a local artist grant for her newest release and first YA novel, Enemy of Gideon. Her short story, “Gabe”, won first place in the Salvation Army Writers Contest in 2013. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband and two children.