Self-Publishing: An Author’s Experiences

Diane Greenlay BRAG

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

I’d like to welcome Dianne Greenlay to Layered Pages today to talk about Self-publishing and her experiences with this industry thus far. Born and raised on the Canadian prairies, Dianne has won multiple awards for her historical action novels, “Quintspinner – A Pirate’s Quest” and “Deadly Misfortune”.

She is also a playwright and Creative Director of the long-running (25 years) theater group, Darkhorse Theatre. Drawing from this background, Greenlay has strayed into the genre of humor and comedy, also penning “The Camping Guy”, which won “Best Play 2014” at Theatrefest and is available as both a one act comedy (live theater script) and a short story.

“Quintspinner” and “Deadly Misfortune” are set in the 1700’s, in the pirate-infested waters of the West Indies for which Greenlay did an enormous amount of research – she hauled sail on a tall ship, snorkeled Caribbean shipwrecks, survived a near fatal swamping of a dinghy by a spouting Orca, got dumped off a surfboard and caught in an ocean riptide – well you get the picture – and she lived to write about it.

Greenlay began writing her first novel to fulfill one of the items on her bucket list. It was either that, or learn to play the bagpipes. Her husband is grateful for her choice.

She is fluent in at least her mother tongue and she thanks her fierce English teachers for that.

More of her thoughts on life can be found at her website

Dianne, when did you decide you were going to self-publish?

In 2009, I was finishing up my first novel, and after receiving a few rejections, I began to read about and research how to improve my query. I began to see articles about successful authors who were self-publishing, and being an impatient personality, the timeline for an author to get his/her book to market that way really appealed to me. I self-published my first novel in 2010.

Quintspinner BRAG cover

What has your experience been like along the way?

I was a techno troglodyte. I had had all of my teenagers’ do all of my computer work for me and when the last of my teenagers graduated and moved away from home, I couldn’t even cut and paste! To say the learning curve to self-publishing was steep is putting it mildly! Thankfully there were people out there with the skills that I lacked and plenty of sharing of information among self-published authors who helped me to reach my goals. Now I know enough to be able to pay it forward to other upcoming authors looking to self-publish. The atmosphere and attitude among self-publishers is amazing – rather than being competitive they are there to bolster each other up, to share ideas, tips, ideas, and to generally be encouraging to one other.

What are some of the challenges you have faced?

By far, the biggest challenge that I have encountered has been, and continues to be, doing effective marketing for my books. Self-publishing has exploded in the past couple of years to the point that competition for readers’ eyes and money is huge. There are millions of books out there, and it’s quite a chore to come up with an effective promotional plan that will lift one’s book(s) up above the crowd, to get it noticed.

What have you learned in this industry?

Writing may be a hobby for some, but publishing is a business, and as such, one has to be willing to continually learn. Also, because it is a business, financial know-how is important, and it is crucial to have plans – publishing plans (covers, blurbs, editing, etc.), marketing plans (which platforms to publish on, pricing, release dates, advertising options, etc.) and finally, it is absolutely crucial to have a thick skin. That first one star review can pierce you like an arrow.

What are the do’s and don’ts of self-publishing?

The do’s:

  • get a professional edit and cover design,
  • write a kick-@#$ blurb for your book,
  • enter some award contests – they are helpful in gaining recognition, and
  • have a plan in plan in place to obtain early reviews.

Without these things, your marketing/publicity attempts will fail.

The don’ts:

  • neglect grammar and typos,
  • argue with that reviewer who left a low or negative review (hold your head up and walk away! In silence.),
  • skimp on your cover (it’s your precious book’s introduction to the world, after all!)

What are the promotional techniques you use via social media and how much time a week do you spend promoting your work?

I use Twitter personally, and belong to an author’s group who are my “street team” and who also use Twitter, Facebook Author pages, and their blogs, to assist me in any announcements, interviews, etc. that I may be doing. It takes about ½ hour each day to get all of the social media things done.

What are the different sites you use to promote your book?

I have a very long list that I have compiled over the past five years of sites that I promote on, and before I promote my next book, I will revamp it as some sites were more effective than others. Among the most effective are BookBub, Ereader News Today, Kindle Nation Daily, and The Choosy Bookworm.

Where do you see this industry in five to ten years?

The book publishing industry is changing so fast, I think it’s anyone’s guess as to where it will be 5 years from now. However, I think the buying public’s perception of the self-published book is improving all of the time, and I don’t think that being an indie author with a self-published book will be an issue at all by that time.

If something can be improved upon in this industry, what do you think it should be?

Improvements? I think we are presently going through a general social media glut and burn-out. There are so many sites offering services, promotion, book news, and publishing skills, that it’s hard to keep up. It’s every writer’s responsibility to investigate what they are comfortable with, what works for them, and narrow it down. Technology is always changing – just as we think we have it down, it changes and the “next best thing” arrives. There is no catching up, really. And the new sites and information will hopefully continue to be an improvement and more user friendly over previous ones.

How long have you been an indie author?

I self-published my first novel in 2010, so I am in my sixth year of being an Indie author, and lovin’ it!




8 thoughts on “Self-Publishing: An Author’s Experiences

    • Yes, as Indies, our greatest strength is the sharing of our experiences. I have had conversations with “artists” in other field such as music and art, and they are absolutely astounded to hear of how willingly Indie authors share info and offer support to each other. This apparently doesn’t happen in other industries. (Lucky to be in one that does, ain’t we??) Thanks for dropping by. 🙂


  1. Whoa! What a great interview and just filled with inspiration and tips. I especially like that Dianne did not gloss over the hard work an indie
    author must do to be successful. Educating ourselves is key.


    • Thanks Jackie! Yes, it’s hard to believe all of the aspects necessary to mroph from being a writer into an “author”. That’s when the business side of things kicks in and the real work begins.


  2. Nice piece, Dianne, and I share many of your views on the necessity of a professional approach to publishing, as well as the glut in social media! Lots to stay on top of, and we’re all on our own journeys sorting it out. Best of luck to you!


    • Thank you Lorraine! I love your way of looking at it: “we’re all on our own journeys sorting it out.” No absolute pathway, but we all have a similar destination in mind. Thanks for dropping in.


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