Yes, we are celebrating Ali Cross this month. Don’t forget to enter for a free e-book of BECOME as well as a chance to win some swag! Leave a comment here. Not here. I will announce winners tomorrow!

Today we have an interview with Ali about self-publishing. You might think that I am shamelessly using my blog to promote my friend. Yes, I am. But I also believe in Ali and her work. Not only is she a fiercely talented writer, she is a remarkable person and I think we can all learn something from her. Also, I find self-publishing to be increasingly fascinating.

I see 4 reasons to self-publish:

1. You only want to publish a book so you can have a keepsake and share it with your friends and family. You don’t really care about readership or making writing a career.

2. You want to be your own boss. You enjoy being an entrepeneur and taking charge of all the details of your book from editing to design to sales and marketing and the endless lists between. It’s a rush!

3. You don’t have the patience for traditional publishing. And yes, it takes a fair amount. A boatload, actually. Plan on ten years from the time you’ve decided you want to be a writer to the day your book comes out in print (with lots of frustration and rejections during that time.) That’s a pretty fair estimate. It will be about nine years for me by the time my book comes out. If you can’t come to terms with that, then maybe self-publishing is the road for you. 

4. And lastly, a reason which could be mixed with any of the above, you just want your book to have a chance. Maybe you’ve tried to go the traditional route to no avail, but you still believe there is a market for your book and want to share it with others.

I have serious respect for those who self publish. It’s a huge undertaking, one which requires skill and confidence. For myself it’s not something I’ve considered, because I have neither the skills nor the confidence self-publishing requires. For me it was get a publisher or let the writing die.

Writing a book itself is an enormous amount of work, and though I know I’ll have to do a lot of work outside my writing to promote my books, there is so much that goes into publishing, more than most people ever consider. And a lot of self-publishing is just having the confidence to go at it alone. You face some roadblocks that traditionally published authors don’t, including the skeptical attitude that many people have when it comes to self-publishing. Your readership is automatically limited. I don’t have that confidence. I really wanted to be a part of a team of professionals who know books, people who could help me succeed, who believe in me and are willing to spend time and money to promote my work. I don’t think I have what it takes to do it all on my own.

But Ali Cross does. She’s got the skills, confidence, and guts to go at it on her own, and she has graciously agreed to answer a few questions about her journey. So welcome Ali!

1. Why did you decide to self-publish? 

I decided to self-publish because I believed I had a good story that was ready to be read but I couldn’t find anyone who believed in it enough to put it out there. My choice was either to shelve it for a year or two and try querying it again, or to just go for it myself. I’m not very good at waiting so . . . I went for it!

2. What value do you think you gained from your experience of trying to go the traditional route? 

Through agent suggestions and revision requests, my story became stronger, for sure. I learned that I didn’t suck as a writer, but that it was the story itself that the agents couldn’t buy in to. I believed, though, that they were wrong–that there is a market for my book. Strangely, the experience of querying, revising, and querying some more brought me to this place where I have a strong belief in myself and my book.

3. What do you think are the pros and cons of going this route? 

The main con is probably believing. You don’t have anyone else to hold you up when you feel like you can’t go on. You have to create your own team, and since you chose them instead of them choosing you (like an agent who loves your story and chooses it from the pile of hopefuls), there’s this whisper of doubt that follows you around. You have to be stronger than that doubt.

The pros are thrilling! I have all the control, all the power. I can decide how I want to market my book, what the cover will look like, whether or not I follow a particular storyline or create a sequel. I don’t have to worry about the second or third book being picked up, I already KNOW the other books will be published and what story they will tell. I love that!

4. What advice do you have for writers who are thinking about e-publishing? 

I think the most important thing a writer needs to do when they self-publish is build a strong team. You have to have people who will read your work and not just love it. Pick people you trust to tell you the truth–because you need that refiner’s fire to create your best story. Usually an agent and/or editor will do that for you, but when you’re on your own you’re it. So pick critical and confident people to help you make your story the best it can be. Oh, but they should love you and your story too; they should just be highly motivated to help you not suck. 🙂

5. Is there ever a case where you would tell someone NOT to self-publish?

Um, I don’t think so. I can’t think of a time, anyway. But wait, I was thinking of story alone–there’s another important element that must be considered. 
Can you, as a person, hack it?
It’s a boatload of work, I’m telling you. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. And you need all the confidence you can muster. Some people (and this is not a bad thing, it’s just is) who really need the support of a professional publishing team. I think it’s important to know for yourself what you’re capable of and how much you’re willing to do alone, Because sometimes you will feel very alone. There’s no shame in admitting it, and you’ll be better off if you take some time for introspection before jumping into the self-pub pool!
Thank you Ali! 
Don’t forget to enter for Ali’s book BECOME! 

So there you have it! There’s not right path for everyone in this business, and sometimes it’s just a matter of figuring out what you have in your tool belt, where you want your writing to go, and what it is you really want with your publishing experience. 


  1. I admire self-publishers too! I’m not sure I could trust myself to do it all right, so I’d leave that to the people who are much smarter than me.

    And I’m still trying to get my hands on this book!!! Count me in 🙂

  2. Ali is really great, and so is her book. Great interview!

  3. Wonderful interview, Ali and Liesl. Ali, that last answer really resonated with me. I think I’m the type of person who could self-publish successfully (I have a lot of innate drive and learn new things pretty quickly), but to be honest, I think I also kind of need the validation that comes with a traditional publishing contract.

    Then again, I’ve always thought that if you’re not enough without it (whatever “it” is), you’ll never be enough with it, so maybe I just need to buck up and be my own validation:) In any case, I admire your commitment to BECOME and your faith in your own self-worth as a writer. Hope I win tomorrow!

    P.S. Liesl, you will never believe what my word verification was just now: “regalit.” What a coincidence! 🙂

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Yay Ali! And thanks for the post, Liesl. I very much enjoyed your blog comment earlier today :).

    • Lara

    • September 6, 2012

    • 7:10 am

    Hello Miss Liesl. Maybe you remember me from WWCC – suite mates. I just learned about your career as a writer and your book. Congrats. I’ve been super intimidated, perusing your blog. See, I am actually on the verge of self-publishing myself. So scary! This post gave me some reassurance. Anyway, I am so happy for your success!

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