Kelly Maher

Paths to publication

I first started writing in the late 1990s, and joined RWA in 2000. Back then, getting published by what is now called a “traditional” publisher was the Holy Grail in romance writing for a great majority of the writers pursuing a career in the field. That’s where the money was. Digital publishing was in its infancy, despite the concept of ebooks being almost thirty years old at that point. These days most readers, let alone authors, are aware of the sea changes which have occurred in how written stories are consumed. My first story was published in 2006. I had three stories of shorter lengths published that year. Since then I’ve had, on average, one release a year–most of them in the digital-first market. Not what you’d consider a career-building track record, especially since the majority of those stories have been on the shorter end of the spectrum.

Now that I’m refocusing my energies on building this career after ten years of building my day career, I’m facing an industry that has greatly changed since I first started writing. I now need to weigh the potentials of self-publishing in addition to digital-first and traditional publishers. Much of what I see from those who have been successful self-publishing is the amount of time they spend tweaking the marketing aspects of their books. They change the covers, the blurbs, the titles until something works and their sales numbers start growing. There are aspects to self-publishing I do appreciate, but others? Not so much.

I fully intend on keeping my day job. In addition to the very nice pay I make there, I get really nice benefits including health insurance. There are a lot of things which I’m willing to risk in building my writing career. Health insurance is not one of them. Every author needs to consider where their line in the sand is. And I emphasize sand. A few years from now, my response may be different. Because I’m not willing to abandon the day career, I have to then prioritize my time. Do I want to spend what time I have writing new stories, or do I want to split that time and produce less, but potentially make more money by selling directly to my readers? At this point in time, with the small track record I have, and with what I’m writing, I’m making the decision to pursue more traditional paths of publication. After seeing what some authors have done in the last few years with choosing self-publishing, I know it’s an avenue that is open to me. But it doesn’t fit what I want out of my career and life at this point in time. I respect the hard work required to make self-publishing a success. I’m willing to put in that hard work. What I don’t have right now is the time.

On that note, who are some of your favorite self-published authors and/or stories?

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