How Self-Publishing Changed My Life

I was just about to push the publish button when a little voice in the back of my head told me not to. It said I would ruin my future writing career. It said I wouldn’t be taken seriously as an author.

Luckily, I decided not to listen. I did it anyway, self-publishing my little book of poetry and sending it off to the world.

Today (December 16) marks one year that my book has been published and each day I am grateful that I stuck with my decision.


I started my blog in 2015. Called “365 Days of Writing,” I delved into poetry—a genre I didn’t write very often—and wrote one every day for a year. 365 poems later, I had an audience of thousands that encouraged me to self-publish a poetry collection.

I knew nothing about self-publishing, but when I did some research, I found that a lot of people—including avid readers and traditionally published authors—didn’t take self-published books seriously.

Since it’s an autonomous and fairly inexpensive option, anyone can self-publish a book. So it’s understandable why some people may not take it seriously.

But many authors have proved them wrong.

Successful self-published authors

Amanda Lovelace, self-published author of the princess saves herself in this one, took home a Goodreads Choice Award for poetry, got picked up by a traditional publisher, and became a bestseller at Barnes and Noble.

K.Y. Robinson sold a handful of copies her first couple months after self-publishing The Chaos of Longing. After selling thousands of copies, her book got picked up by a traditional publisher and is sold in stores worldwide.

Jennae Cecelia, is the self-published author of four poetry books, including Amazon bestseller Uncaged Wallflower. Cecelia has sold thousands of books and even teaches others how to market and sell their book.

And these successes are just a few in the poetry community—there is a myriad of accomplishments that self-published authors have achieved in every genre. In fact, Written Word Media reports that over 50 percent of market share is now held by small presses and indie authors.

Why it matters to me

It’s important for me to spread the word about self-publishing because it changed my life. That may sound cliché, but it took me years to gather the courage to begin writing publicly. I always wanted to write, but I was scared of what people would think.

As more and more people read my work, my confidence in both my writing and myself has grown tremendously. When I self-published my book, my goal was to sell 50 copies. I never imagined thousands of people would enjoy my poems. Before self-publishing, I was terrified of showing my work to the people I love, even though I knew they would support me. After self-publishing, I’ve grown more comfortable with my friends and family reading my book and blog.

If you want to look down on non-traditionally published authors, go for it. But do not deny their passion—doing everything themselves (from writing, editing, formatting, cover design, and marketing)–so they can share their story with others.

How self-publishing has helped other authors

I interviewed a few of my favorite authors to capture their experiences with self-publishing. Here’s what they had to say:

Amanda Lovelace:

“Self-publishing got me traditionally published, and now writing is my full-time career. I get to do exactly what I love, as opposed to settling for the second-best path.” Initially shocked by her book’s success, she added, “I thought it would be a fun little project for myself, not the beginning of my dream career!”

K.Y. Robinson:

“I honestly never thought it would sell more than a handful of copies! I self-published my book in May 2016. By the end of summer 2017, over 21,000 copies were sold. Andrews McMeel Publishing, a traditional publisher, released a revised and expanded edition of my collection this past September.”

Jennae Cecelia:

“Self-publishing has given me opportunities I used to only dream about. It’s given me the opportunity to make writing my career so I don’t have to work a job I don’t like. Plus, I’m so grateful for the financial freedom it’s given me.”

Need more proof?

I tweeted my followers (many of whom are self-published authors) and asked them to share how self-publishing changed their life. Here’s what they had to say:

Even though writing is my passion, and has been for as long as I can remember, the fear of other people reading my work terrified me. I’m not perfect and my work isn’t perfect, but ever since self-publishing I gained the confidence to tell my family and friends about my book and my blog. Furthermore, I’ve inspired others to share their work too. Hearing people say that my book has helped them or encouraged them to write has been the most rewarding aspect of all.

So, if you’ve been thinking about self-publishing, go ahead and hit that publish button. There’s a story inside you that the world wants to hear.

(If you want to learn about the self-publishing process, I wrote a post that covers the basics. Click here to check it out.)

Shelby Leigh

Thanks to the poetry community for contributing to this article. The following authors were featured:

Cheyenne Raine, Gizem Erdogan, McKayla DeBonis, Lexi Vranick, Isabelle Kenyon, Leila Tualla, Melissa Jennings, Matt Banks, Jennae Cecelia, K.Y. Robinson, and Amanda Lovelace.

Each name is linked to their Amazon page or book. Please check out their work!