Wednesday, July 27, 2016

J. Cornell Michel On Being Indie

On "Being Indie" is a blog series that introduces us to a wide variety of small press authors and publishers as they discuss what being indie means to them.

San Francisco resident J. Cornell Michel is a fourth generation writer, but she's the first one in her family to write about zombies. She works in a patent law firm as a docket supervisor during the day and spends her free time writing stories about the undead. 

Jordan's Brains, J. Cornell Michel's first novel, was praised by IndieReader for being "funny and fast-paced" and for "offering a new look at a dead-tired subject." Zombie Zeitgeist is a chilling collection of Michel's short stories. In her book 'Twas the Bite Before Christmas, she added zombies to Clement C. Moore's classic Christmas story. Michel's second novel, Where's My Dinner?, is about a virus that turns women into zombies but doesn't infect men. You can find out more about J Cornell Michel and her novel at: , and on Twitter at 

Deciding how to publish your novel is pretty overwhelming these days. There's self-publishing, submitting directly to small presses, querying literary agents, or disappearing into the slush piles at big publishing houses. Once I finished my first novel I researched all my options, and after much deliberation I decided not to even bother submitting to publishers or agents. I didn't send a single query. Instead I saved my pennies to hire a decent editor and cover artist.

I had several reasons for going the indie route. Part of me was terrified of rejection, but a bigger part was terrified that a publisher might want to change my story or my protagonist. My first novel, Jordan's Brains, was fairly strange in that I never revealed my main character's gender, and I didn't want anyone to change that. So I decided to keep total control over my story and do everything on my own.

Another reason I chose to self-publish is that agents and publishers usually run away screaming from trendy topics, like zombies, which is what I write about. Since traditionally publishing a novel usually takes eighteen months, industry professionals don't know what's going to be trending by the time the book is actually published, so they usually don't want to take on clients who write about something that could be passé by the time it's published (totally understandable). The thing is, people want to read books about said popular subjects, so if you write about zombies, vampires, or other trendy topics, then self-publishing might be the best option for you.

The two main perks of self-publishing are 1). There's a lot of freedom involved. You can write about whatever the hell you want, be it risqué or bland, and no one can force you to change it. You also have total control over the cover design, blurb, etc. 2). Self-publishing is much faster than traditional publishing. You can publish your novel in a couple days as opposed to a couple years. For impatient folks that's a real plus!

I definitely made some mistakes when publishing my first novel. I spent too much money on a mediocre cover by buying the proofreading/cover design/formatting package through CreateSpace. Big mistake. For my subsequent novels I networked and met some outstanding indie artists who designed exponentially better covers for a fraction of the price. That would be my advice to first-time authors who want to self-publish: seek out other indies to design your cover and edit your manuscript. And it's a huge help to interact with other indie authors who can cheer you on and maybe even beta read for you. A great place to meet fellow indie authors is

My publishing journey has been so much fun, and I've met several authors along the way who have become great friends. Yes, it's expensive and a lot of work, but if you're passionate about your book, I say go for it. Self-publish that sucker!

No comments:

Post a Comment