I had the honor to get a hold of some of Mr. Sowder’s time and ask him a few questions. I wanted to do a more in-depth follow-up to the post I did called The Word: Mythbusting – Stereotypes and Misconceptions of Self-pubbing and independent pubbing and that’s what this is meant to be. I wanted the perspective of a publisher and not just my perspective as a working author, graphic artist, and formatter in the business.

Edd Sowder is the type of man to not hold back his thoughts or feelings when it comes to business and thus he was the perfect person for me to ask. He’s been publishing for many years and brings to this Q&A his experience and expertise.

I hope in some way that those that read this gain a perspective and insight they may not have had before on things behind-the-scenes of publishing. So many of us go into submissions unaware of what may be going through the mind of the person we’re sending a manuscript to. This is inside one such mind.


In your opinion, what should someone know before submitting to a publisher?

My opinion varies from day to day. Recently, well…when our submissions were still open, I noticed that a lot of authors were submitting first drafts, if not second. I feel that if you are an author, and have written the next great novel in history, you should have someone beta (prior to submitting your books a “beta reader”) your novel from one end to the other and help you with suggestions on fixing plot holes. Additionally, if you could allow time from when the novel was submitted, many publishers have what’s called a “slush pile” of books to read and yours is just as important as the others, so if they say it will take at least three months, don’t email them a week later and say, “did you like my book?”


I feel that if you are an author, and have written the next great novel in history, you should have someone beta your novel from one end to the other and help you with suggestions on fixing plot holes.

Edd Sowder

Many believe the publisher should take on full responsibility for the marketing of a project where others believe in splitting the responsibility, what should people know on this? I have read where some will do all the marketing for the author and others will do zero.

Ours is somewhat in the middle of that. In today’s world, an author should be just as proud of their book as the publisher is. Now if the idea of marketing your books is just completely devastating to you, guess what? If you self-publish it, you will still have to do that as well but you will not have the same amount of reach, you will have to come out of pocket for the edits, cover, interior, and deal with the business side of being published. It is not as glorious as some think. Here is a piece of real information, NO book is accepted by a big five publisher anymore without a marketing plan submitted for approval by the author. I have heard this and read it in several areas. Will my company do it for you? No, not exactly. We will do some light promotional posting, some follow up after the book is out, a few posts on social media a few times a year for you but that is about all the time I have. I actually expect my authors to do the bulk of it themselves. It does show when they, and/or I, do find a few minutes to post something about the back catalog. There is no reason why it would not show something if the author did it as well. Each author is different though. And to ask if an author will or will not, well… most will at the beginning of the life of the book, but soon after it has come out, they discontinue to do so. I have seen it a lot. It is unfortunate but we all get pretty busy.


Here is a piece of real information, NO book is accepted by a big five publisher anymore without a marketing plan submitted for approval by the author.

Edd Sowder

From an active publisher, what is your take on what you see authors doing wrong?

I think I just answered that in the last question but I can elaborate one that I have seen all too often that burns me, and many other publishers up. You have a book with a publisher, and one with another, and you have self-published a few. Great! Good for you! We could not be happier for you and if you ask, I am certain that we may even help you spread the word on your newest book that was self-published as we have the time… just don’t forget that this industry does not revolve around the last book you let out into the world. It is hinged upon all of your catalogs. You have a book here, there, and now a new one but when did you stop loving that first one you have with the initial publisher who took a huge risk on your name, book, concept and put their funds into it to make your dreams come true? Is that now the step-child you never liked? It happens all the time and it hurts not just the publisher but you as well as nobody remembers the first books you put out because you are spending so much time promoting the newest one. Bundle it, ask for a sale to help promote it, make sure that you are not bastardizing the prior catalog you have just because the newest book is ready. They all deserve equal attention.


…just don’t forget that this industry does not revolve around the last book you let out into the world. It is hinged upon all of your catalogs.

Edd Sowder

The situation is a newcomer/green writer to the business doesn’t know what to do, they’ve got a bunch of things done, ideas, and no networking. Advice for those people coming in and unsure what to do and what not to do?

Ask questions. Each publisher, author, editor, graphic artist, will have ideas of what you should and should not do to get things rolling. Join a couple of groups online that are primarily other authors and be certain you join a few that are readers too. You will need beta readers. Those that will read your book before it goes to print and help you mold the idea. These people are just as important as the ones who publish it for you. I cannot express to you how important in today’s world social media is for sales. Everyone behind a computer screen is anonymous and nobody knows more about your story than you do. So, share it with friends, family, and loved ones online in excerpts. Don’t give them a whole chapter but give them a part of the book, a passage, that you are particularly fond of writing. Do some interviews. Get on some podcasts as a guest, start an online blog, guest write on a few. It will keep your name in the spotlight and when your book comes out, people will be looking for it.


I cannot express to you how important in today’s world social media is for sales. Everyone behind a computer screen is anonymous and nobody knows more about your story than you do.

Edd Sowder

You’ve gone to many conventions, met a bunch of celebrities. What can you share for an author starting off in conventions? What should they remember about dealing with celebrities?

Be yourself, be gracious, and be thankful. If you are an introvert, as most authors are, take someone along with you who can help liven up the table a bit for the passersby to talk to. If you are an extrovert, like me, go out a few times a day and walk the area to see who all is there. Meet other authors, artists, and for Pete’s sake, get bookmarks, business cards, or something else that will tell others who you are in case they do not buy today. New authors going to cons are hard sells. But sometimes, if you can get in good with a neighbor, they will point people in your direction for you. We have done it for others and likewise, others have done it for us. As far as dealing with celebrities, if there is an after party to go to where they will be there, do it. No excuses. Just go. They will be more relaxed, likely having a drink, chatting with others, and less in the mindset of having to make money. We have met some incredible people on our journeys and many of them are still friends with us to this day. Some have even brought us into cons with them as we get along with them so well. Remember, at the end of the day, we are all just people. Being in the place of a celebrated actor/actress, remember to respect their privacy, ask for permissions, and be cool. All of them like to get something cool from fans (many are readers too), and if you can get a photo op at the end of the con with them, all the better.


Be yourself, be gracious, and be thankful. If you are an introvert, as most authors are, take someone along with you who can help liven up the table a bit for the passersby to talk to. If you are an extrovert, like me, go out a few times a day and walk the area to see who all is there.

Edd Sowder

What’s your take on the saying ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’? Some don’t submit to more than one publisher whereas some prefer doing this?

While I would like to have exclusivity on all published works, that is unreasonable. We suggest—since we know we are not the only publisher out there—to shop around. If you tell us that your book is being submitted to other publishers, as well as ours, we will understand. It will not speed us up in getting to your potential work but we do want to know ahead of time. Submitting to a publisher and then not submitting to others while you wait seems like you are willing to just wait and see. I suggest, weighing the options and looking for who seems to be the best fit for you. Much like we are implementing new tactics for new submissions, we expect that you, the author, are willing to look to not just reputation of the publisher but also ask questions to authors that are with that publisher. If the overall atmosphere seems good for you, and you are willing to wait on them, then by all means submit and be inquisitive but if you get an overall bad feeling from them, or their authors are highly dismissive of how they work with them, walk away. Keep in mind that not all authors will feel that they are getting a fair shake from the publisher, and not all publishers will feel that the authors are doing their fair share of working with the publisher. So, take all info with a grain of salt, so to speak, and weigh the pros and cons of each decision.


If the overall atmosphere seems good for you, and you are willing to wait on them, then by all means submit and be inquisitive but if you get an overall bad feeling from them, or their authors are highly dismissive of how they work with them, walk away.

Edd Sowder

Pet peeves that authors should know about publishers?

Well, that is a good question. That list can grow substantially daily and shrink just as fast depending on the schedule, the stressors of the day, and the attitudes of those involved, myself included. One thing that publishers hate is for someone to refer to themselves as the “next Stephen King, Anne Rice, James Patterson, Lovecraft, Wells, Harris, etc.” Let us make that determination for you. No, on second thought, let your readers and reviewers do it. If your style is much like Koontz, or Rushdie, your readers will notice. Don’t make the assumption that you are the next anyone. Be you. Be honest. If you are influenced by those prolific authors, then, by all means, state it in interviews that you enjoy their works but if you are trying to be the replacement for Gaiman, you need to have the clout to back that up. Another pet peeve that publishers, well I personally hate, is an unedited manuscript sent in with credits installed in the file that says who edited it. Now, all editors will see a sentence differently than the next but if you have several hundred mistakes per chapter in your submission but it was supposedly edited prior to submitting, and you named that person, as the editor, we already expect a very clean version of the MS. When we get in there and start reading only to find these mistakes, missing words, sentence structure that is horrific and not in any way ready to be considered… it slows us down. If we really want to know if the sub is worth it, we will read on trying to ignore the issues but sometimes, the issues will outweigh the story. This is where beta readers come in handy. Additionally, never submit a first draft. I think I said something about this earlier… or a second. Revisions are your friend. A submission is a piece of your soul. You are baring it for the other world to see and it is also a career path. Treat it as such. Never get too upset if you get a rejection. It comes with the territory and developing a thick skin as it takes to handle it will go further for you than wallowing in self-pity. Hopefully, the rejection that comes back will have some creative ideas to help you grow. I know when I send one back, it has ideas in it to help the author but many other publishers will send a form letter. Those are too impersonal and it’s like they never read through your submission. Why waste your time like that? Keep in mind that most publishers work on a release schedule and many times it has to fit with their preconceived budget to operate for the year. If they tell you the book is accepted and will not release until such and such date, ask them what you can do in the meantime to help them and yourself in potential sales. They should have some good ideas to get your name out there. Remember, your name is now a brand, the book is a product. You need to sell it as much as the publisher will, if not more. You are competing with over one million other books a year to get a piece of the proverbial pie in sales, although other authors are not your competition by any means.


One thing that publishers hate is for someone to refer to themselves as the “next Stephen King, Anne Rice, James Patterson, Lovecraft, Wells, Harris, etc.” Let us make that determination for you. No, on second thought, let your readers and reviewers do it. If your style is much like Koontz, or Rushdie, your readers will notice. Don’t make the assumption that you are the next anyone. Be you. Be honest.

Edd Sowder

Interesting Reads and Related Content

We’ve all been there, at least us writers. We are somewhere between the beginning and the end of a story and find ourselves not wanting to go back. We hover with the taunting blinking icon awaiting those words that never come and we ultimately find ourselves on social media distracting from the story that needs to be written. It’s common place, but what to do? What to do? I decided to share my top 10 ways to keep going and getting it done.

Some of these may work for you and some of these may not work for you. I listed what I know has worked for me, some times one or two will work and sometimes just one, but this is my personal list rewritten for this post.

  • 12 – Set a goal: Giving yourself a target to aim for is utterly helpful. How else will you get from A to B? I’m not saying know instantly how the story will end, just know you want to end this story by -insert a date-. When given a deadline it’s setting a goal, but sometimes deadlines can be hard to meet. A publisher will put a deadline on a project, but you can put a secondary one just for yourself to finish by. You can set different goals, that’s just an example of one you can do. Another goal that’s common is completely x-amount of words a day, week, or even monthly.
  • 11 – Reading the work as a reader: While writing we don’t listen to what we’re doing. This is something I do during revisions and editing, don’t do it when you’re writing it’ll become a complete cluster**** if you do it during. This is a hard lesson I had to learn, but it’s an important one. Take time, if you can, to read the work or have your program read it to you. You’ll start hearing for yourself when things don’t sound right, catch errors, and give you a good first impression not as the writer, but as a reader.
  • 10 – Take a break: Sometimes we work so hard we have written ourselves into a rut. Taking a break is not only good for the story, but good for the writer. Too long in one place is bad on the body, especially the legs, and if you’re hurting you will be even less likely want to write. Just walk away for awhile, but return!
  • 9 – Don’t edit while you’re writing: This can be hard, but it will interrupt a creative flow. Revisions can come after getting the story out, they should come anyways because no one should ever publish a first draft of a manuscript or send that in to a publisher.
  • 8 – Why so serious?: Though the work is considered important, don’t take it so serious. You’re going to add pressure on top of whatever negativity that is bubbling and that’s no good. Write, take your time, and pace yourself. Too much too fast may overwhelm you very quickly, especially if you’re working on multiple projects and everything is on deadlines.
  • 7 – Write what you love: If you’re writing something you don’t enjoy my question is why? If you don’t have some passion for the project you’re involved in it will reflect in the final piece.You’ll also most likely never attempt whatever you were trying to do again.
  • 6 – Don’t quit: Remember its a marathon not a sprint. If you are rushing a project just to get it done it’ll show. If you’re doing something you don’t like it’ll show. No matter what you’re doing don’t give up! Giving up is never the answer to anything, trying and finishing is better than telling a publisher that you ‘just couldn’t do it’. If you are unable to meet a deadline you can request an extension, but repeatedly missing extensions will reflect badly upon you, the kind of person you are, and the kind of career you’re wanting for yourself. Write the story, finish the book, and don’t give up!
  • 5 – Stop while you still want to write: I know this sounds weird, but it works. If you have yourself on a time limit, emergency, or something else and you cannot write anymore get to a point where you want to keep going with the story and step away. You’ll be eager to get back to it and most likely return to the project refreshed. It’ll also be easier to return to a project that’s proving difficult.
  • 4 – Remember you’re in control: Many writers will joke that the character(s) are ‘not letting them’ write the story they way they want, but realistically we know (or hopefully many know) that we control things. We create the characters and the world. I’ve come across writers becoming frustrated because -insert character name- isn’t letting them do the scene properly. I’ve said it, others have said it, but I’ve always joked blaming that as the reason my story frustrating me, but the truth is it was well overdue for me to step away. Remember you control the story, if it isn’t working step back to a point that it was working and start again. I’ve deleted entire chapters that weren’t working, it has helped me greatly!
  • 3 – Have you purged?: I believe strongly in writer’s block being real. I had no ideas and had no want to begin even though I’d try. I didn’t have a creative burnout, I was doing other things creatively. (Though I have had a burnout) I eventually got frustrated and in this frustration I opened a word document and began writing all that I wanted in one book, then another, and another. I eventually purged all my ideas out for two series, short stories, and ideas for things that could fall into any category. I wrote about this method for Horrortree and it still is something I have used to this day when I’m having a moment. Read The Purging Method article for more details on this and see actual pictures of what I did.
  • 2 – Organize: Some people don’t do this, but it is pretty important. I use a program called Scrivener to keep things organized in stories. I don’t use it for writing, but I know many do. Ever been writing and realize so and so suddenly has blue eyes when they were suppose to be green? That’s due to disorganization while writing and forgetfulness. It can cause frustration and if it’s bad enough a complete writing breakdown leading to not wanting to do the work.
  • 1 – Don’t be lazy: Just not doing the work will hurt the work, obviously. Being lazy on the job is bad, any job really. Being lazy can lead to writing becoming an issue and you ultimately hating it when you realize the deadline is coming. The book isn’t going to get to the publisher and get published by itself! Putting in the work makes those rewards so much more delicious.

From the outside, one could easily look at the independent and self-publishing community as weird, a big joke, or even bizarre. Through my years of jumping from self-published, to being signed to a small press, and back again I have seen many conflicts arise. Authors/writers becoming upset in a vague post or this person saying something or that person not understanding. I can understand fully how frustrating it is and can be.

I wanted to write this in hopes of helping someone, anyone, to understand some of the common things you’ll see, hear, or experience from the outside looking in.

It’s easy and they’re lazy

The professionals among us would argue this until we’re blue in the face. There is nothing easy about what we do. Some parts might come easier to us than others, but that’s just life. Those of us that take this very serious talk about ‘the marathon and not the sprint’. Those that come into the field that sprint to the end (publishing) make more mistakes than those of us that understand the long game, the marathon. Mistake over mistake will eventually get noticed, by the community and readers. This is not easy! In it for the long run is hard, tedious, and so worth it for us.

It’s not a real job

What makes it ‘not a real job?’ We pay taxes (yearly or quarterly). We put hours in (months or even years on a single project). If anything many of us will learn multiple skills along the way. For example: When I began self-publishing I hard to learn marketing, formatting, video editing, new art programs, learn new techniques to keep up with trends and pace of others marketing, and learn better ways to time-manage, stick to a schedule, and how to work with the not so friendly co-worker. Sure sounds like a job to me!

They’re all coffee-addicts

Maybe…but what else are we suppose to use when we need to be rejuvenated? A lot of us like to joke, does that mean we’re not able to take things seriously too?

Self-published books aren’t that good, the quality just sucks

If you’ve come across one that isn’t of decent quality then frankly that dear reader is an author that tried to sprint or hired a non-professional to work on their book. Many books, done by professionals, are highly checked, scanned, edited, formatted, and the whole process before publishing happened. Even then, sometimes just sometimes, a misspelling will get through. That misspelling is a warrior god that made it through many rounds of a battle and more than anything should be given a great feast.

Small book press are just scams

Lies! Vanity presses are scammers and are not the same as a small book or independent publishing house.

Self-published, hybrid published, or independently published writers really don’t have talent.  If they had any they’d be traditionally published.

That’s a big ol’ negatory. There have been many traditionally published authors that have decided to go self-publish or chose to go to a smaller press for various reasons. Does that mean they’re not talented? Many chose to publish self or go to an indie press because that’s what they wanted. If a smaller press picked them they had to have some amount of talent to have gotten their manuscript picked up.

Participation Time!

What are myths that you have come across or even though? Let’s get a discussion going!

I’ve said it many times before, too much perhaps, how writing began as a therapy for me. I came across a blog post that made many good points toward the subject of writing and therapy. I’ve never hidden that I have been in therapy, I call it mental maintenance, and it was suggested to me and others have shared they were suggested to write as well. It’s an emotional purging.

I began writing in my youth as an attempt to control a world I had no control in. I wrote about famous people liking me and thus those around me would too. I know, it’s almost sad, but I was little and in all honesty, I can’t hide my roots, I’ve chosen to embrace them. It’s where my writing began, my trying to help myself began, and it really did a lot for me at the time that has trickled through even to this day.

Some of our best ideas, as writers, come in those moments as our eyes are drifting and we’re about to fall asleep. BAM! The muse has hit us and we scramble for the nearest writing anything to scribble it down. It can be a bit of dialogue or merely a concept, but it must be written down. We have also felt that horrible gut feeling of forgetting if we haven’t written it down as well.

I’ve written about a purging method (check it out at Horror Tree) toward writing that has helped me. I’ve never been an ‘outliner’ type of writer. I have come to learn that I’m not alone with that when I took the workshop held by James Patterson (read the post here).

My best tips are:

  • Always park a notebook and pen/pencil for emergency muse wallops.
  • Writing can be therapeutic, write down EVERYTHING! You never know what could be used.
  • If you want to organize, keep a notebook separately for your thoughts, dreams, and story ideas. Even though at the moment they may seem different you just can never tell where and when inspiration may come to you. Lots of nightmares have helped me fill in the gaps of plots and stories.
  • Don’t force anything (unless you’re on a deadline then get that shit done!)
  • Keep private thoughts as private as you want if you’re doing it to work out some things in your life. Remember you DON’T have to share anything with anyone, you don’t even have to tell someone if you’re in therapy. Heck, if you don’t want to you don’t have to even publish something if you don’t feel its to the best you can.

Before Publishing

Before you ever step forward with your finished manuscript there are choices to be made. Are you going to self-publish or submit to a publishing house? What the hell does it mean to be a hybrid? What’s a vanity press? I hope today’s post helps answer some of your questions.

  • Self-publish: Self-publishing means you’re putting up the funds to pay for the work required before publishing and ultimately publishing yourself.
  • Independent-publish/small publisher: Being ‘indie’ means you’re publishing through an independent publisher. An independent publisher will usually publish your book if they think it’s good enough, fits under their umbrella of genre(s) they publish, or if you’ve published before with them. (This can vary greatly publisher to publisher so don’t go saying I gave a definite in for you because it won’t work). They are not associated with the ‘top five’ or the bigger publishers, for example, Random House. They will help fund some of the cost or even all of it depending, but you may be asked to carry some of the weight if you want something special, for example hiring that one artist that does cover work you love so much.
  • Hybrid: A hybrid is someone who is publishing both ways. You can do this and it’s common for many authors to be this, having titles with publishers and titles they’ve self-published. It’s not a bad thing.
  • Vanity Press: These are where many want-to-be published fall victim. I’ve seen it many times. Vanity Press prey on the naivety of those new coming to the industry. They’re also referred to as ‘pay to publish’ because that’s how they work. You will fork up a bunch of money to ‘be published’ when the reality is a publisher, that’s legit, will be investing in you and your work, not the other way around. I really hate this kind of publisher cause in no way should it be considered a legit or viable way to be published. It’s a big ol’ scam.

Things to consider or remember:

  • To agent or not to agent? Many that want to go the route of ‘the top 5’ need an agent. Agent inquiries really are the only way to be considered for a bigger publisher. Smaller or independent publishers don’t require this, just keep your eyes peeled for when submissions open up on their websites or social media.
  • Indie or self remember: You’re going to always have to be promoting your work. Some small publishers will help and some will not. Shouldn’t matter if they are or aren’t you should be out there nevertheless. If you aren’t doing it how can you ever expect anyone else to do it for you?
  • Believe in your work: You’ve put all the work into it so far, belief in yourself and what you’ve created will reflect in how you talk about your work, your projects, and people will want to check out what’s to be believed in.

Did any of this help you? What has? Share your story in the comments!

Early 2016 I decided to work on my craft. I thought perhaps taking a workshop or a class may help me, maybe. At the time that I was thinking these things, mulling them over before taking the leap, and making the investment, I saw a few of my fellow writers taking the masterclass offered by author James Patterson.

I did my research and I found that this course was set-up in a way that you could ultimately win the honor to co-author a story with him, that was not something I was interested in. I wanted purely to hear what he had to say about publishing, writing, and his experiences in his career. I’m sure for some they wanted to co-author something with the man to boost themselves, the attention toward any work they had previously published, or just to have the experience of working with him.(Those bragging rights ya know!?) But for me, I just wanted to learn. If I’m meant to work with someone of his status in the writing world then it’ll happen…eventually.

It was set-up very much in the way that a class is at any school would be. Homework and all! Participation was a part of the entire course, but it was also very isolating, at least for me. It was more like posting to comments under classes and doing assignments than what I had expected originally, but I’m flexible and over time this just was what it was. I would do the homework and watch the videos learning whatever it was I could from them. There was another way to connect to others in the course, that being a Facebook group dedicated to those that had paid to be a part of the program, but I rarely posted there if any at all.

What I ultimately learned is that some of his advice was more of a confirmation for me. The killer of inspiration is self-doubt and the ‘walking in the darkness’ feeling that can come from being in the independent writing industry. I’m not sure if that feeling can flow over into traditional publishing, but from the field that I am in it’s common. So many of my fellow writers have admitted they didn’t know what to do, if anything at all, to help themselves. I admit, in ways, I’m like this time to time even to this day with my wondering if anything I’m doing on social media is really helping me or not, but I just breathe, sip another bit of coffee, and hand it over to my networking that I’ve worked on to aid me along the way. (Tip: Word of mouth is always a fantastic way to get attention.)

My feelings were also confirmed that if you’re going to get anywhere you’re going to have to work to get there. This is something else I’ve seen in many fellow writers in the field. Especially those that believe that because they’re with an indie publisher their job of writing the story is done, it’s not! You must always promote yourself and your work. The publishing house will help, at least the good ones, and that coupled with your own efforts will over time get you a ‘buzz’.

I do recommend trying it out for yourself if for nothing else than to settle your nerves. For the price I paid, I have a lifetime access to everything which to me sounds like a bargain. Anytime I want to go back, check out things again, perhaps even brush-up I can.

Author Rissa Blakeley invited me to post on her website. After debating what to do, going back and forth for a week, I settled on formatting tips for those that may need some advice. This is directed at authors that will be needing digital formatting tips and where you can find a more in-depth look into formatting.

Guest post here.