The Changing Face of Publishing: Author Michelle Argyle

If you’ve ever wondered if publishing a book yourself is worth the risk, Michelle Davidson Argyle is here to talk about her experience so far with her novella, Cinders. While some people may still take a negative attitude toward self-publishing, the fact is that many writers are working hard to make their books just as good as those offered by a traditional publisher. [Full disclosure: I edited Cinders for Michelle!]

Sometimes, the experience can even lead to a publishing contract…

You spent a lot of time working on full-length adult novels. What made you decide to write this novella?

Cinders originally started as a project me and my co-hosts on The Literary Lab blog were doing. We each wanted to write a novella and then put them into a compilation, but once I was halfway through the book I realized I wanted to self-publish the novella on its own. I’m glad I did. Now Davin has written his own novella he may independently publish, and Scott is starting on his soon.

I know you started off writing it just for yourself. At what point did you start to consider self-publishing Cinders?
was always for myself, but I did know from the very beginning that I would be self-publishing it. That was the reason I decided to self-publish instead of shop it around to traditionally publish somewhere. I didn’t want to have to deal with anybody wanting to change anything or getting frustrated because I couldn’t find anyone to take a novella. There was a point, however, near the middle of writing the book, where I decided to push more with marketing than I originally intended. I saw the potential of a niche audience really liking it.

I keep reading that e-books are outselling print books these days. Did you find that to be true with this novella or have you sold more hard copies?

Since releasing the book on July 28th, I have sold 251 books for profit. Out of those, 91 have been print copies either sold through online channels or directly through me. 160 copies have been e-books. I don’t think I can really say yet if e-books are outselling print books these days. It’s hard to say from my sales because I sold a lot of copies at my release party and I’ve sold a lot of signed copies. Since this is my first book most of my sales are obviously from people who know me, and because of that people were at first more likely to buy a print copy. Still, now the e-books are outselling the print.

Do you think the expense of creating a physical book paid off or do you think first time self-publishers will do better with e-books?

I don’t think the expense of creating a physical book has paid off immediately, no. I’ve spent over $1500 on the book so far and most of that is shipping expenses (materials and postage, etc.) and the cost of ordering the physical books. It can get pricey so I can see why many writers just go with e-books to start with. I really wanted a print book, though, and I think after getting a few books out there the costs will dip lower than the profits. I hope. I’ve almost made back what I’ve spent, but not quite yet. I think this is pretty good, however, for only the first few months of the book’s release and that it is my first book I put out there.

What was the most surprising thing you learned from publishing Cinders on your own?

It’s hard to get people to buy your book. Really hard. Especially when most of the world has no idea who you are and it costs a lot of money to distribute the way a publisher would. I’ll confess right now that I expected to sell 200 copies of Cinders within the first month of its release. I was sadly disappointed, but once my vision of how things actually work clicked into place I realized how well the book did for a first release of an independently published book.

You recently signed a contract with a small publisher to release your book, Monarch. I know that initially you still planned to self-publish more novellas as part of a trilogy. What made you decide to let Rhemalda publish all of your books?

When I published Cinders I didn’t expect to sign a contract for another book, so I had already made plans to write three fairy-tale themed novellas and independently publish them. This became a project cemented in my head, so even after Monarch was signed to a publisher I still had that plan.

Because my small publisher has offered me so much freedom on Monarch, I seriously considered them taking on my novellas and then realized how much more time I’d have to write if I didn’t self-publish the books as well as get them published through Rhemalda. It simply became too much work and seemed very redundant. I can only shoulder so much!

Do you think the experience you gained from self-publishing Cinders will help you with marketing all of your books through Rhemalda?
I do think the experience I’ve gained from self-publishing Cinders will most definitely help me with marketing all of my books through Rhemalda – and even other publishers if I get to that point. Already I’ve discussed with Rhemalda different ways of marketing and how I can add to it with my own networks. It’s really nice! 

Thanks so much for your honest answers, Michelle! Congratulations on your publishing contract for Monarch and best of luck with all three of your novellas!

If you’d like to win a copy of Cinders, leave a comment before midnight, December 21. One winner will be announced Wednesday, December 22.

28 thoughts on “The Changing Face of Publishing: Author Michelle Argyle

  1. I've heard so much about this book. I applaud Michelle for her hard work. It's paying off. Just keep believing. This interview is so informative. Thank you both!! Happy Holidays!

  2. Nice interview. I hear echoes of my own feelings in Michelle's words. My e-book experiment evolved very differently (and I didn't have a print component) but it seems like we both learned a lot about marketing from our experiences, and we hope to apply that to traditionally published books in the future.

    Best of luck, Michelle!

  3. Michelle, you did a great job with this book! I have to admit that the quality of Cinders (I have the print version) is higher than that of the last traditionally published paperback I have purchased. And it's just a cool story, which I'm sure is why it has caught on so well.

    The lesson I take away from Michelle's experience with Cinders is that if you can take the time to do it right, self-publishing can be worth it.

  4. I admire Michelle's courage to self-publish and greatly appreciate her sharing her story hear and over at the Literary Lab. I look forward to hear her story how her next novel with a publisher evolves. She deserves the best!!

  5. Thanks for the interview! Reading about Michelle's experience is so informative. I wish her continued good luck and success!

    Plus, I've been hearing lots about Cinders and I love a good fairy tale-related story!

  6. Excellent interview. I've been thinking of self publishing poetry with my dad's photos for family and then try to market some as well. I like to hear what others think.

  7. Insightful interview. Thanks to both of you. I've been watching Michelle's self-publishing journey with fascination. She's certainly done everything “right” in terms of marketing. What she learned about hard-copy vs. e-books is important for anybody considering the self-publishing route.

  8. Great interview! And I was glad to hear more of Michelle's story. I was lucky enough to win a critique from her, which I hope to send off shortly. I love hearing about the publishing adventures of other writers – they are so varied these days (and I'm obviously a big fan of small publishers too!). Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. That was an interesting interview, and I appreciated hearing from an author who has decided to self-publish. I think there's a lot more change to come in the world of publishing!

  10. Thank you, Michelle and Sherrie! That was a great insight into self-publishing. And I'm so happy for Michelle and her success–she used to be my neighbor and we didn't even know each other wrote novels! :o)

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