The Freedom to Change Genre as a Self-Published Author

From Woman Writers, Women’s Books

Traditional publishers like an author to stick to the genre that has been successful for them. Self-publishing provides an author the freedom to write in any genre they wish. However, anything you self-publish or is traditionally published under your name will be forever on Amazon, whether you like it or not. The only control you have is to stop self-publishing the titles you no longer want to distribute. But the title and description, and possibly used copies, will always be there, reminding you that you didn’t always write as well as you do now.

For me, writing and publishing started with my book THE CLAY CANVAS. I fell in love with the maiolica style of ceramic painting while living in Italy. After returning to the U.S. I found a way to replicate it using American products, and was soon doing commissions. Finding joy in creative painting on functional, everyday ceramics, I decided to write an illustrated guide not only to give instructions for the complete ceramic process, but also to give advice on finding inspiration, starting a business etc. The book was traditionally published and led to my writing dozens of articles for ceramics and crafts magazines.

Having discovered the joys of writing, I was eager to try my hand at fiction. A novel about World War II seemed the right place to start, as the war had never been far from my mind. I was born a year before the war ended, though luckily ten days after Rome was liberated. But the cost of that war was everywhere. It had exploded my Viennese Jewish-Catholic family, sending its members to three different continents, never to be fully reunited. I grew up with fellow displaced Europeans—many of them also Viennese—in Italy, Argentina and New York. I listened and absorbed their stories, understanding that the past is never really past, and there are losses you never get over even when life is good.

I wrote my novel and sent it out to publishers—something one could do thirty years ago. I received letters of encouragement but was told that the novel needed some structural changes. I tried to fix it but didn’t fully understand what was meant, so it remained unpublished as my husband and I moved to Switzerland for his work with the U.N. We stayed for six years and the novel was put aside.

When we returned my son surprised me by having it printed in book form. I was delighted and reformatted it and self-published it on Amazon. Then changed the cover and the title and republished it. A few friends ordered copies.

I joined a small writers’ group and began to write in earnest. I read books about writing, and took online writing classes. The more I learned, the more I realized what I had done wrong the first time around. I “unpublished” the early versions, but to my dismay the titles will live on on Amazon, though they are not available for purchase.

With the encouragement of my writers’ group, I wrote a new novel. But World War II still beckoned and I returned to the Vienna novel and totally changed the earlier version. I unexpectedly found myself writing about what life might have been for someone who had stayed in Vienna and lived through the war and its aftermath. In the process, I collected so much information, videos, articles, photographs, that I incorporated them into my website

I sought professional assessment to make sure I had it right this time, and then self-published. I soon discovered one major advantage of self-publishing. I could correct overlooked typos, reformat using Vellum, and change the cover to be more marketable. The new improved novel, ALL THAT LINGERS, was given a Kirkus star, received a silver star and honorable mention in book competitions and good customer reviews.

It was time to return to the novel I’d worked on before. THE BEST THING ABOUT BENNETT is not historical fiction, and not defined by war. It is the story of a woman who, in striving to become the person she had always longed to be, breaks out of her shell to find friendship, adventure and love. It was inspired in part by experiences my husband and I had in Uganda.

I debated whether to publish under a pseudonym, as it was a different genre, but realized there was no point. Amazon already had a record of my multi-genre writing.

I’d self-published an updated edition of my ceramic book, adding many more photographs, and also offering it in ebook format.

The designs I’d painted on a series of ceramic tiles had been the inspiration for watercolor paintings I used to illustrate a whimsical, alliterative alphabet book for children. I self-published that as well.

Link to the rest at Woman Writers, Women’s Books

1 thought on “The Freedom to Change Genre as a Self-Published Author”

  1. I only wish I could chase other authors with my name away.

    As my husband points out, if I had actually changed my maiden name, lo those many decades ago, it would be unique in the US (and probably the world), though a bit of a challenge to pronounce. So it’s my own fault. 🙂

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