Why I Temporarily Returned to Self-Publishing, Part One by Laurel Osterkamp

Why I Temporarily Returned to Self-Publishing, Part One byLaurel OsterkampLet’s welcome back Laurel Osterkamp as she shares with us “Why I Temporarily Returned to Self-Publishing, Part One.” Enjoy!


I’m often jealous of authors who realize early what they want to write and how to brand and market their books and their author platform. That’s not me.

I’m great at finishing books, but not so great at finding and identifying my readers.

I’ve written over a dozen novels, several novellas, and numerous short stories. Many of them are published; three (soon to be four) of my novels are traditionally published, but not by anyone who will get my paperbacks on bookstores’ shelves.

Some of my work I’ve unpublished and some hasn’t yet been shown to the world.

I switch genres, from chick lit to women’s fiction to literary to psychological thrillers to contemporary romance. At one point I had an agent.

Mostly, I’ve self-published and at times experienced modest success, winning awards and making sales.

Some highlights include being featured in USA Today books, and interviewed on Lori & Julia’s book club, a highly popular Minneapolis/St. Paul radio show that often hosts best-selling authors.

Dreaming of Success

But none of it has amounted to the success I still dream about. Perhaps “dream” is the wrong word to use here. I do a lot more than dream; I constantly look for new ways to achieve more, and then I work as hard as I can to get there.

That leads me to last fall, when while putting together a new Amazon ad, I noticed an unfamiliar author who’d achieved best-seller status. Lucy Score.

Her books didn’t look like my type of read, but I was impressed by how successful she was. Then, the next time I was walking through the book section at Target, I saw several of her titles.

Good for her, I thought to myself, and then I veered off to find a gallon of milk.

Months later, while researching romance authors, I saw her titles again. I visited her website and discovered that most of her titles are self-published!

Not only that, but her books published by her own company, That’s What She Said, are her highest selling novels. The traditionally published ones do okay, but not as well as the self-published ones.

Lucy Score has it going on.

She’s one of those authors I mentioned at the top, the type I envy because they figured out early on how to brand and market their writing.

(That’s not to say her writing isn’t clever and well-done. I began reading one of her novels, and while it wasn’t for me, I thought she had a strong and appealing voice.)

The Point

Okay. You might be asking yourself, what’s the point of this story?

Here it is: Lucy Score and the realization that I can enjoy writing something that is also marketable has compelled me back to self-publishing, and to re-release one of my self-published titles.

I created a new edition, a tighter version now in paperback, with plans to make an audio version as well.

I published The Next Breath almost ten years ago. It won Honorable Mention for Women’s Fiction in the RONE Awards, which are prestigious because they don’t charge you anything to enter.

However, going back and re-editing my novel was super cringy. Why did I ever think this book was any good? 

I asked myself this multiple times. I consoled myself with this rationalization: Since writing The Next Breath, I’d written five more novels, four of which would be published by someone other than me.

I completed a master’s degree in creative writing. I’d learned a huge amount about editing and revisions. And by writing and publishing short fiction with online literary journals, I’d gained the ability to use an economy of words for maximum effect.

Editing The Next Breath

I wound up cutting nearly 20,000 words from The Next Breath.

But I also added a prologue and extended some scenes, so it’s still over 80,000.

Originally, I decided to release the new edition of The Next Breath so I could hype something as I wait for the release date of contemporary romance, The Side Project (published by The Wild Rose Press hopefully sometime this fall.) I decided to do an audio version, but first I’d need to tighten it.

Then, I changed its cover so it would look similar to the cover TWRP designed for The Side Project. Because, you know it’s all about branding.

I also decided that in order to seem legit, I ought to release a print version.

So I spent a hefty sum to have the file formatted as a paperback. Then, I uploaded it onto Amazon, thinking I’d publish the print version solely through them. However, something happened when I had the ARC version of my paperback sent to me.

I fell in love.

Everything was just how I wanted it. It looked great, and flipping through the book’s pages, I’m confident that this time, the writing is good. I haven’t deluded myself into believing that Target or B&N will magically stock my book on its shelves.

However, there are some local independent bookstores in the Twin Cities who might, especially one that specializes in romance.

I went on their website, and they said all books they carry must be distributed by Ingram.

So, yesterday I created an account, uploaded my files, and now I’m waiting for them to send me the digital proof.

In the meantime, I’m finding reviewers, contacting influencers, entering contests, posting on social media, setting up Amazon ads, and trying to create hype.

It’s the same stuff I’ve done in the last two years for two of my traditionally published titles. However, now, 100% of the potential royalties will go to me.

It’s too soon to say if self-publishing will make it more difficult to succeed.

Or, perhaps having all this control will make it easier.

My ultimate goal with this project is to make enough sales and get enough reviews that I can attract one of my favorite audiobook narrators (one with a large following) to sign on for the recording.

But side-goals include selling paperback copies in local independent bookstores, and gaining positive reviews and accolades.

We’ll see. I’ll let you know how the launch and first few weeks post-release went next month. Stay tuned!

See The Next Breath on Amazon.


About the Author 

Laurel OsterkampLaurel Osterkamp is obsessed with writing and doesn’t know how to stop. In addition to her novels, she has short fiction published in literary journals all over the web, and runs her website, laurellit.com, with book reviews, lesson plans, and writing advice. When she’s not writing (which is rare) she’s often teaching adult ESL, going running while listening to audiobooks, or educating her daughter about the OG teen soap opera, Beverly Hills 90210. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.

Social Media:

Website: https://laurellit.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlaurelosterkamp
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/laurel-osterkamp
Instagram: Laurel Osterkamp (@laurel_osterkamp) • Instagram photos and videos

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