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June 14, 2015
By Drucilla Shultz
Editor turned indie author Roz Siegel offers tips on hiring publishing professionals and not implicating family members in fiction.

Roz Siegel is not new to publishing. Having worked as an editor at Simon & Schuster and Random House, Siegel -- now director of acquisitions at MJF Books -- is well versed in the traditional publishing path. However, when the small press that published her first book—Goodie One Shoes (2010), which Publishers Weekly called “a fast-paced debut”—declined to publish her second book, her decision to self-publish “was not so much a choice as a necessity.” Well-Heeled received a star from PW, with our reviewer calling it a “worthy sequel” and proclaiming, “admirers of Kinky Friedman’s comic mayhem should be pleased.”

Siegel consulted with friends before going the indie route. Those friends happened to be Sisters in Crime, a group of female mystery writers who swap information on agents, publishers, publicity, conferences, and self-publishing. Siegel is extremely happy she made the decision to self-publish, but regrets that she hesitated so long: “It was easier and more satisfying than I imagined. There were so many different companies offering self-publishing services and I was so used to the conventional publishing process, and fearful of leaving my comfort zone, that I became paralyzed. I could have written book number three in all the time I wasted on indecision.”

Describing herself as a “non-techie,” Siegel found that she “enjoyed the challenge of learning the technical aspects of self-publishing,” but concedes that social media is difficult for her; she would prefer to write in her spare time rather than promote herself on Twitter and Facebook: “Using social media requires a two-step process for me: first learning how to use the technology in the most efficient manner, and then overcoming a social shyness to feel more comfortable in a public arena.”

"Tell everyone you know, have ever met, ever hope to meet, that you have written a book they might like to read."
With experience in both the traditional publishing and self-publishing, we asked Siegel for tips for indie authors:

Don’t Do Everything Yourself

“Hire professionals to help you in all aspects—especially for your jacket. Self-publishing does not mean you do everything yourself. Publishers hire editors, designers, and publicists for good reason. There are many experienced freelance editors, book designers, and jacket designers who now make a living as consultants to authors who want to self-publish. For fiction writers in particular, it is extremely helpful to hire readers/editors to give you feedback on whether or not your book is making sense. It is important to pay them for their expertise—and for their ability to tell the truth, regardless if it will hurt your feelings. Asking your mother, husband, or best friend to comment will get you nowhere.” 

Naming Advice

“Avoid naming any of your characters with the same first letter as a family member, especially if the character is a bad guy or gal. They will inevitably claim you are making snide, undercover comments about them despite repeated claims of innocence.”

Shout from the Rooftops

“Tell everyone you know, have ever met, ever hope to meet, that you have written a book they might like to read.”