Friday, July 14, 2017

You Can Take a Detour, Choose Your Road to Publishing by Karen Bell-Brege

It finally arrives, sitting in your inbox, or a letter in your hand. You hesitate – for a second, you then madly click or tear into it. Your heart sinks, and now your day, your week, your life, is totally ruined! You’ve been down this road before, as you grab the nearest counter with your hand on your head, you can barely stand up…the agony, the defeat. You wonder how much longer you can take the rejection as you proceed to shamefully degrade yourself. Telling yourself you were an idiot to think you could write, let alone get published. Okay, maybe not so dramatic, but you know that awful, sinking, pit of your stomach, feeling of rejection.

When you do come to grips, the only thing you can think about is how many times you’ve been rejected, enough to wallpaper the entire bathroom? Nah, more like your living room. How many times has your family seen the tears or heard the whining? Only to witness your mood instantly change  - this is where you think about how you don’t care, you WILL find a publisher. You wonder who the people are that have the say on whether you make it past the slush pile. 20-year-old interns, that have been up all night and binge read on their phones? It’s then you notice that your family is no longer home. Some have snuck out the back door, and the ones still there, have their headphones on, including the dog. If you’ve hit this stage kudos to you, because this is where you’ve turned a corner - a glimmer of hope is emerging and you realize you can keep going.

It does seem like everyone wants to write a book – it’s rare you meet someone that doesn’t. But you did it –this proves you have it in you to be successful. You sat down, opened a vein, put your creative, soul baring self on the page. If you have the gumption and wherewithal to do that – then you can get published. If you’ve had the perseverance to put your butt in the chair, day after day, or night after night, with a job, a family, pets, bills, in this digital age, along with the other daily accouterments, then you can’t give up. You are a writer, because after all, you made it to a place that few have the verve and nerve to go.

But maybe you’ve had it, it’s been a few years, and you know you will have to wait even longer if you do get an offer. You want to hold your book in your hands, now. Here is where you ask yourself, “Self, is it time to start thinking about other options?” If your self is in agreement, you could think about self-publishing, or vanity publishing, (vastly different), or an e-book. Although, these are not decisions to take lightly. Many people, some stores, reviewers, associations, and the gatekeepers of traditional publishing still look down their noses at self-publishing. However, it is changing, and it can be a viable route, history has proven that.

We all know that Indy publishing is growing in leaps and bounds in the world of music and movies, and slowly gaining traction in the book world. But keep your eyes open, going in. It too is a beast, requiring time, money and guts – mostly guts.

Although, traditional publishing now requires you to market, promote and develop a platform for your book. If you also do this with your self-published books (which you must), who knows, it could also be the road to getting traditionally published. If it’s a route you’re considering, do your homework, research it thoroughly and decide if its right for you.

Here are some stories of literary greats that started out like you, wanting to share their love of children’s books. They took the self-publishing road less travelled, journey into the unknown, which led them full circle.

Surprisingly, self-publishing has been around longer than we realize. In 1901 Beatrix Potter felt the need to share her story of the adorable rabbit that was hopping around in her head, THE TALES OF PETER RABBIT. After being rejected numerous times, she went on to self-publish 250 copies of her book. A year later a publishing house that rejected her picked up her book. The firm went on to publish 22 more of her books, which continue to sell to this day.

If the name Christopher Paolini doesn’t sound familiar, the title ERAGON, might. There are a few different stories about how Paolini self-published. Some say his parents owned a printing company and printed it, then paid for him to travel the states promoting it. Others say he used a print-on-demand company. Either way he started out self-publishing. On his journey he became friends with Carl Hiassen, and was then picked up by Alfred A. Knopf and went on to sell millions of books.

Amanda Hocking went the e-book self-publishing route and sold over a million copies of her young adult books. She eventually signed a $2 million contract with St. Martins press for her TRYLLE trilogy that is optioned for a film, and for her new four book series, WATERSONG.

There are countless other famous authors that took this route. So, don’t give up! Hold your head up high. Either road you take, you can be a published author.

Disclaimer: Self-publishing – where you physically have the books printed at a printer and do everything yourself from writing to marketing to storing, is not for the weak, lazy, faint-hearted, tired, unimaginative, uncreative, greedy, money-hungry…but then again, if you were any of those things, you wouldn’t be a writer, right?

Karen Bell-Brege and Darrin Brege
Karen Bell- Brege is an author and has self-published 9 chapter books (the MICK MORRIS MYTH SOLVER and GHOST BOARD POSSE series), a picture book (MONSTER'S FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL) and a sketchbook (SKETCH THE MYTHS). She is also an improv performer, speaker and trainer. She is a former radio host, communications specialist for Chrysler and copywriter, toured with Working Woman Magazine, and has done countless voice-overs. Darrin Brege is the illustrator for the books, and is also a VP Creative Director for Helloworld. He was the original cover artist for the MICHIGAN and AMERICAN CHILLERS series, and was a voice impressionist for ESPN radio. They met when Darrin auditioned for Karen’s improv troupe and have been laughing and creating together ever since. They say their best creation is their son, Mick, and when you meet them, they will most certainly make you laugh. Learn more at

*BONUS* Karen and Darrin have so much experience to share. There are no shortcuts on the road to publishing, but here's a resource list they created to help you begin your own research.


Michigan book printers – a bonus because it’s always nice to say that your book is, Made in Michigan.

McNaughton Gunn
60 Woodland Drive E,
Saline, MI 48176
Renee Lane – A wonderful person to work with.
(734) 429-5411

Color House Graphics
3505 Eastern Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508
Gary Nyenhuis
(616) 916-7370

Thomson-Shore Inc.
7300 W. Joy Road
Dexter, MI 48130
Ann Arbor, Michigan
(734) 426-3939

ISBN To purchase your ISBN

Make sure you copyright your work.

Cover Art
Graphic designers and artists can be expensive, but you want your book to look professional. Talk to other authors to see who they use, or contact a local college art department. There are many aspiring art students that do fantastic work, and would love to get a freelance job (see your artist’s portfolio before you decide). Also, have a contract and make sure you own the rights to the work you buy.

Be sure to have your book edited professionally. There are many online resources, however it’s best to use a local editor, and get references.

Formatting & Typesetting
You can do this yourself, once you decide the size of your book and page count. You can also hire a freelancer, or your printer may provide this service, or recommend someone.

Largest publisher and distributor of ebooks.

Ebook formatting service.

Print-On-Demand/Vanity Presses/Self-Publishing Service – BEWARE!
Another route to go but not really self-publishing – you do not own your ISBN – they do. Research this before you invest in it.

Traditional Publishers & Agents
Attend conferences. Meet agents. Buy the book, Writer’s Market 2017, (current year), which lists agents, publishing houses, what they’re looking for, and how to submit.

Gumption and Perseverance
You’ve got it, just look inside yourself.


  1. Hooray for Karen and Darrin, as hard-working and fun-loving a couple as you will ever meet. They are immensely talented and enthusiastic, and exceptional human beings. And, they do a dead-on Marge and Homer Simpson.

    1. Thanks so much, Charlie!!! Right back at you and Ruth:)

  2. Love this post! Thanks so much to Karen and Darrin for the encouragement and wisdom...two things we all desperately need in this bunny-eat-bunny business we love:)