Why being a self-published author is kind of like being a Salem witch

This is a post by Novel Publicity President, Emlyn Chand

Let's face it – the publishing industry is changing. We can all pretty much agree on that, right?

What we've got on our hands is an oncoming era of enlightenment (I prefer that to the often-touted “revolution”). ‘T wasn’t long ago that being a self-published author was practically as shocking and horrific as being a witch in Salem, Massachusetts circa 1700.

“What damnation have you wrought upon yourself? Upon us all?” The traditional pub villagers would cry as they rushed for their pitch forks and torches. “Be gone with you, unnatural creatures!”

And those unkind words were enough to send us packing. They didn’t have to chase us out of the village, for we never had any real magic, we were never any real threat.


We opened our eyes. We saw the true powers we possessed, and we saw the villagers for what they lacked.

We are able to manipulate our circumstances. We have more control than any who’ve gone before us. Self-publishing truly is magic.

But we can’t just walk around all blasé, showing off our green skin and harry warts while levitating our way through the park. That would be a mistake. We need to put on a little bit of concealer and keep our feet on the ground. We wouldn’t want to scare them away.

Similarly, a self-published or indie author needs to put on a bit of a show. We need to know when to conform to the “village” way of life and when to do our own damn thang. If we can get them to come in for a closer look, they might understand our allure. Then they’ll stop being so afraid.

Our make-up isn’t Maybelline to cover that green skin (I ♥ you, Elphaba). No. We apply our foundation by writing a truly fetching and well-edited manuscript. We dab on the blush when we take the time and expense needed to don an attractive book cover. Our lipstick is a professional, personal, and functional web presence.

Don’t we look pretty? We do, I tell you. And we’re all the more beautiful for knowing that we possess something so much deeper within: creativity, stick-to-it-ness, bravery, and of course – magic.

If you really examine the state of the publishing industry, it’s not the traditional house execs that populate the villages. Oh, they’re definitely the mayors, the cryers, and a few other choice townspeople. But if you want to see who lives in the village, go and knock on a few doors.

It’s the readers, bibliophiles, book addicts. They’re the ones who built this town. The mayor would have no village to govern if ‘tweren’t for them.

And thank God for it!

We arrived on their doorsteps – beaten, bloody, in need of a hot meal and a bit of rest. They may have been put off by our bedraggled appearance, but they ultimately let us in and showed us the true nature of their hospitality.

I kind of like this town; I think I’ll move in 😉


Emlyn Chand, President of Novel PublicityAbout this post's author:

Emlyn Chand is the president of Novel Publicity and a YA author. She loves to hear and tell stories and emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Her first novel Farsighted released in late 2011 and is of the YA genre. Learn more about Emlyn at www.emlynchand.com or by connecting with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or GoodReads.


What an interesting way to think of self-publishing. I never thought of it that way before. But it’s just like that isn’t it? Trad publishers want to shut us up and keep sowing the wonderful dream package to us writers to buy into but we refuse to do it. We’re rebelling against the system of crap that the trad publishers want to feed us. We’re witches all the same, lol. Rebellious. Strong. Independent. Free. Nothing is better then having control over your book after waiting so long for it to see the light.

Anyway, just ranting onward about the revolution. 🙂 Thanks for such a clever post!

    Emlyn Chand

    Hi, Larissa. So happy to hear that you enjoyed my rambling metaphor 😀

Suzan Battah

This is my favorite blog about self publishing, so true and entertaining. I am happy to be compared to a Salem Witch of the 1700’s. Who are other writers to judge? Writing is an art and if it’s great writing and no one gets to share it than it’s a big shame. There is also really bad and I mean really bad writing out there as well but this is the industry. Singers, artists, writers – all have to chase their dreams. I’ve noticed over the years how jealous some writers can be of each other, it’s so competitive but I’m proud and happy of other writers achievements and never put anyone down or look down my nose at another writers achievements. You may like someones work or not but always be happy for someone elses success regardless of how they got published. You’re right, publishing is changing in so many ways and indie and selfpublished writers are slowly being embraced. I’m so checking out your book and wish you all the best Emlyn, you have a fan and cheersquad in me.
Suzan Battah

Emlyn Chand

Hi Suzan. Thanks for the wonderful comment. I agree that the snobbery and jealousy exists. It’s pretty sad. Don’t you think we’d be more powerful as a coven rather than as isolated indie witches?

Suzan Battah

Absolutely, when we all join forces together, praise each other and cheer on the successes we become stronger. Go Indies! I’m proud to be an Independent Self Published Author and not ashamed to say it! I’ll join your coven anyday Emlyn and you can join mine, in fact I’m happy to for us to visit each other whenever :)))

    Emlyn Chand

    Okay, let’s coven up!

DeAnna Troupe

What an awesome blog post! I couldn’t have put it better myself. That’s exactly why I decided to self publish my own books. I wanted more control over the process.

Marissa Farrar

Loved the post and the metaphor!

A few years ago my husband tried to get me to self-publish. I ground in my heels with the exact same mentality as those chasing down the Salem witches. Not long after I got myself a publishing deal for a couple of books. After pathetic sales and very little help on the publishers side, I managed to get my books back. I paid for them to be redited, have new covers designed and put them back out on the market place myself. A couple of months later and they hit the bestseller lists on kindle for their category and have now sold several thousand copies.
Self publishing was the best thing I ever did!

    Emlyn Chand

    Wow, Melissa. What an amazing success story. Would you consider blogging some advice for our blog? I’m sure our readers would love to hear your tips!

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