Susan’s Inside Writing: Outed!


I woke up this morning, Friday, convinced that author Nancy Martin and I were at irreversible odds. She’s always been very anti-self-publishing. One of her concerns — and I’ve always seen the truth of it — is that people are sucked into the scammers and the services that charge a lot of money for no return.

One of the reasons I went the route I did was because I was told, point-blank, that there’s no market for books about rock stars (Agent Barbara Poelle confirmed that yet again this afternoon). Yet I had a demand. Not a HUGE demand, but enough demand to make some money. I was told, back in 2008, that Trevor and the band were what self-publishing was perfect for: a niche book aimed at a niche audience.

I was also told that it was 100% about my subject and zero% a reflection of my writing skill and talent.

But… knowing that Nancy felt as she did, I tried to keep my world under her radar. I didn’t want to set her off, get on her bad side. I mean, heck. Nancy is an important woman in the Pittsburgh writing community. She’s smart as the devil and can deconstruct a book’s structure in one reading. I respect Nancy. I LIKE Nancy.

So imagine my surprise when I wandered into the hospitality room and Nancy asked if I’d be joining the lunch for the Published Pennwriters. You have to meet certain criteria for the Published Penns, and although I’m about to put out my fourth book, I don’t meet those criteria. I pointed that out. She told me to come anyway — she said I had important things to say and she was hoping I would say them. About my choices in the publishing game.

I ate lunch with the non-published folk, because, after all, they’d already accounted for my lunch with that group and I do like them. Most of my good friends are among them. And then I intended to sneak into the Published Penns lunch and lurk in the back.

No go.

Nancy had me walk through the room and take her seat. At the front. So that, you know, the ENTIRE ROOM (full of well-published people, including the amazing Jonathan Maberry and the awesome CJ Lyons and the way cool Jacquelyn Mitchard, as well as agents! And editors!) saw me. They were doing introductions. Nancy saved me for third-to-last. The only people who introduced themselves after me were Susan Meier and Jonathan. Wow.

And yes, I introduced myself as shamelessly self-published. I told the story of how I wanted royalties for my birthday, so I published a short story that you guys bought. (It’s still for sale, if you missed out somehow. Same price and everything!)

What I think this means is that I’m done hiding. I don’t like to talk about myself as a self-published author; we should all just be authors and be done with it already. But I need to stop NOT talking about my books. I need to put it out there — heck, there are two copies of Trevor’s Song sitting in baskets, waiting to be won by a lucky raffle winner. And yes, there are tickets in the cups beside my baskets now, too!

Time to quit hiding. Time to stop expecting to be attacked for taking an unpopular path (and how rock and roll is that? Taking the unpopular path?).

Hi. I’m Susan Helene Gottfried. I’ve got three books in print and a short story that’s available only as an e-book. And there’s another on the way, hopefully next month.

Isn’t it time you all joined the Trevolution?



  1. Penny

    May 13, 2011 5:17 pm

    I think you were not only brave, but sensible! Snobbery against self-publication is just that – snobbery! There’s nothing wrong with it. My cousin (self-published) was surprised to hear from me that her books were for sale on Amazon. You go girl! 🙂

  2. The Joel

    May 13, 2011 5:51 pm

    And there you are!
    That wasn’t so painful after all. Was it.

  3. Susan Wells Bennett

    May 13, 2011 9:32 pm

    That is awesome, Susan! Way to go! I envy you — sitting at the published writers’ table. 🙂

    When the current wall of elitism crumbles, you’ll be able to say you swung one of the early sledgehammers.

  4. Julia Smith

    May 13, 2011 9:38 pm

    *applause and cheers*

  5. Candy Beauchamp

    May 14, 2011 2:06 am

    Yeah yeah yeah… books, publishers, good for you… is the next book Trevor?!?!?!

    I’m not obsessed. I’m not!!!

  6. Dee

    May 14, 2011 2:22 am

    Have you heard of Scott Nicholson? LOL I participated in several blog tours for the sole purpose of getting his books out there. Check out the Kindle Obsessed blog just to name one. She reads and reviews and I read her reviews and often add books to my list of tbr from those reviews. I have a list of those kind of blogs in my feed reader. Many are urban fantasy readers but not all. I’d be glad to help but I do not have the readership you need. Good luck and more power to you. I am sure there are a lot of horror stories out there about self publishing but I have read quite a few successes as well. If the story is good (and yours are) you just need to find your audience and let them do the work for you. I’m proud of you 🙂

  7. Misty Rayburn

    May 15, 2011 11:58 am


    No guts, no glory! Right? 🙂 I think a very wise person said that yesterday..oh wait that was just me :-p

  8. karen

    May 16, 2011 9:51 am

    All I have to say is “Rock on, S, rock on!”

  9. Heidi Ruby Miller

    May 16, 2011 3:32 pm


    Kudos to you! You should read my husband’s post about Joe Strummer, The Clash, and Indie Pubbing ( because you two are very like-minded!

    I’ve published with big publishers, with small publishers, and now I put my first novel online this month. And, I couldn’t be happier.

    I feel your pain about hearing how the marketability factor has been what’s kept your books out of the mainstream publishing world–I was told it was because no one knew me in the SF/Fantasy world, not by one editor, but two!!

    In the end, you’re writing what you love and putting it out there for the world to read. If you hadn’t gone this route, those readers would have been deprived.

    Any time you want to do an author interview on my blog, just email me at

    Things are changing in the industry, and I think the stigma attached to putting your work out there on your own will eventually fade away.


  10. Jason Jack Miller

    May 16, 2011 3:43 pm

    I went through this earlier this year. You can read about it here, if you’d like

    I have an MA and had three books written before finally deciding I’d had it with the ‘gatekeepers.’ I think you’re doing the right thing.

    BTW, my novel is heavily music-related( Hit me up if you want to exchange books.


  11. Alice Audrey

    May 16, 2011 4:36 pm

    Yeah! Rock on! You know I’m behind you.

  12. jotter girl

    May 17, 2011 6:56 pm

    This was a great post and truly inspiring for those of us who are at the early stages in getting a book to print. Congratulations on your success!

  13. Suzan Harden

    May 19, 2011 9:01 pm

    I feel for you, Susan. I got up in front of the West Houston RWA chapter on Saturday and did the same thing to a smattering of polite applause. Funny how several people came up to me during the break and asked specific questions.

    The wall is coming down. Now, where’s David Hasslehoff and his light-up jacket?

  14. Kathleenshoop

    July 15, 2011 9:09 pm

    You are fantastic–were fantastic that day! I had no idea you were ever hiding!

  15. Conference Bound » West of Mars

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