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Updated on November 13, 2015
My achievements
My achievements

Seeing the books I'd written lining my own bookshelf...

I couldn't believe it myself at first, but it's true!

A novelist's ego has to be larger than life in order to create characters and give them everything they need to fulfill their imaginary destiny.

Consider the writer who submits a finished novel and is rejected time and time again. How is the ego doing now?

It's difficult for an author to accept that their work may never be published. There are fewer publishing houses publishing fewer books, yet there are more people, and more writers than ever. What to do? What to do?

Self publish!

It will be a learning curve, but it will be worth it at the end. Besides, if it was not meant to be we would not have spent the time and effort writing the novels in the first place. Think of it as being part of the task and have fun with it.

Rejection Slips


One day I decided that I was writing for myself.Of course I sent my three inch thick manuscript to New York City with SASE. It came right back. No, actually, it took a long, long time and I am pretty sure the rejection slip (which is actually a letter) arrived before the manuscript did. I was horribly disappointed, down in the dumps for a while, until I decided I must have sent it to the wrong publishing house. Or perhaps it was not the type of story anyone liked. I didn't know anybody who liked to read.

So I wrote another story which I sent to Harlequin. I followed their guidelines to a tee so surely this time the rejection slip would not come. When a letter did arrive it was long, kind and apologetic. My story cornered on a touring male-female rock band's romantic tribulations. The publishing house said that my material was not suited to their category of readers. So I steered away from Rock n Roll and wrote Swinger, a story centered around a troop of flying trapese artists in Montreal. We really have those here; we have Cirque Du Soliel. The House suggested topics they would prefer. Someone on the opposite end of that last letter felt really sorry for me. I was grimly impressed.

Caleche Vieux Montral

Horse drawn carriage in Old Montreal
Horse drawn carriage in Old Montreal | Source

PHOTO: Back cover photo of the novel Detecting Obsession. Photo was taken at the bottom of Place Jacques Cartier, on the waterfront of Old Montreal.

Cover of the novel Detecting Obsession
Cover of the novel Detecting Obsession

The Move

Time For Change

I didn't send anything out for a long while. There was quite a large pile of paper accumulating in my drawers and closet because I kept on creating characters and writing for myself. Soon after I finished writing Detecting Obsession I moved to a small studio apartment and the pile of paper stayed on the curb with the rest of the garbage when I left. I was convinced Detecting Obsession had all the right ingredients for a romance novel; mystery, love, tears and laughs, and bright script. I sent it to Harlequin. They sent it back. Third time is NOT the charm. Needless to say, I wrote the story out of their guidelines, yet the book remains in the romance category.

PHOTO: The front cover of the novel Detecting Obsession looks into a courtyard off the main cobblestone rue St-Jacques; through a lane horseback riders used in Old Montreal.

Cover of the novel "Matters of Honor"
Cover of the novel "Matters of Honor"

Computer Technology

A World of Difference for Writers

When a computer replaced my electronic word processor I decided to enter into it the only other book I had kept from the curb, Matters Of Honor. Rewriting and editing was much easier using my new PC. It was a thousand pages of typing and thousands of hours of editing that I wouldn't get back, but I felt that I had to do it, for myself. Afterwards, I met a writer from Texas through her publishing house. We corresponded, and after reading the second part of Matters of Honor, she encouraged me to submit it to another publishing house. I couldn't face the rejection slip. I didn't even read it.

Head Games & Minds Crimes
Head Games & Minds Crimes

On The Cusp

Discovering Self Publishing

I didn't write much when I was working full time, so whenever I had time off the characters were teeming for identity. They wanted names, features, mannerisms, histories. They wanted to come out and play good girl meets the bad guy and stuff happens. So I wrote Head Games & Mind Crimes.

Soon after I finished writing Minimum Safe Distance I heard about a new thing called self-publishing. How did one do that and how much did it cost? I had dealt with St. Martins Press with one of my very first novels. They had accepted to publish it and sent me a contract to fill out and sign. My heart was racing up until I read the part about 'subsidy publishing' and the thousands of dollars I would have to pay.

Minimum Safe Distance
Minimum Safe Distance

Hot & Cold

Just a few years ago I paid an agency to submit my manuscript to publishing houses they deemed would consider my work. No more guessing or shipping and receiving manuscripts. They were experts who knew the territory and they would put my work into the right hands where it belonged.Don't do it!

For my money all I got was a letter every 3 months saying where they had supposedly submitted it. They obviously submitted it to their bank accounts in my honor. This led me to avid research into this new self-publishing prospect, but it was really new, very complicated and I spent countless hours trying to make Mobi Pocket ebooks to no avail. It was a new kind of writer's block and I eventually gave up.

PHOTO: You can almost see through the window into the bunker where Leah Carter is being held hostage.

Novel: The Box
Novel: The Box

Impending Job Termination

The Box

One year things were slow at work. The jobs were shifting to China. Dreading the impending layoffs, day after day, I started to write The Box. It provided me with a distraction and each day after work I would enter the new stuff I had written in my home computer. I began looking at Lulu ebook publishing again, then I got laid off and did not pursue it. The buck stopped there. I was pretty sure there would be some fine print, eventually, I just had not gotten to it yet, so why bother? At the very least, my concentration on finishing The Box kept the blunt edge off losing my employment.

Personal Challenge

Encouragement is Necessary

While I was writing Breaking The Protocol Lynda read another of my books and I was encouraged enough to seek an agent. I wrote synopses and sent a lot of emails. Some wrote back that the story was not for them, most said their plate was full and others did not reply at all.

After Lynda read Breaking The Protocol and liked it, I told her that I had an idea for a new book centered around human trafficking. She alluded that the subject was too harsh to contain romance. A challenge! I wrote The Missing for Lynda! Not for myself. Well, perhaps a little for myself as well. I was pumped. January, February and March in Montreal's cold and snowy winter wonderland passed by like mere weeks. Was that because I had a clear goal and an audience? I think so!

Book Printing and Publishing Online

Months later I received an email from Lulu which was very different than the others they had sent me in the past. Bring Your Book To The World. Print your books and ebooks for FREE. Control your work. Reach more readers. Next to that I read, Barnes&Noble, iBookstore, Baker&Taylor, Nook, Amazon. What impressed me most was the idea of holding the printed books in my hands.

So I set off to Learn More. I would have to learn to format text, make cover art, and be my own editor, which isn't usual, but it had to be done. I made my first printed book my last novel The Missing. I could not wait to have all of the formatting right. I just had to see it. See the quality of the paper and print. It was everything they said it would be; glossy full-color front and back covers and sharp printed text inside. I even worked on the spines so when together on a shelf the titles and my name lined up.

Of course I had to purchase each of the copies Lulu printed for me, and pay for S&H. Once I had my formatting and covers all set I had to comb through all that text. I found errors galore. Possibly plenty more I didn't find. Then I had the arduous undertaking of creating ebooks that would be suitable for international distributors. ePubs.

Once again I started with The Missing. I figured I would try to launch the paperback and its ebook sidekick at the same time. I was losing my mind. Each time I received an email from Lulu with Action Needed in the title I had heart palpitations. But I persevered and got through it. The others were a piece of cake. A piece of cake that took over a year to bake and frost. Now I've reached the hardest part of the endeavor, marketing!

Breaking the Protocol
Breaking the Protocol

Drawing Attention

If Lulu claims 1000 new titles a day, how will my books draw attention? They will not. I'll have to draw attention to them. The first thing I did was make my author spotlight at Lulu which is a good starting point since each novel I have published either as a paperback or ebook is displayed and available there.

Then I made another author spotlight at Amazon. Now I am writing hubs for you about myself, my books and other things I am interested in. It isn't cut-and-dried. Marketing is dreadfully difficult when you don't have any connections that are correctly connected.

Long-winded am I? But if you like relationships and crime thrillers, my forte is a delightful combo of 'good girl meets the bad guy' scenarios. Nothing too mushy or extreme.

My novels are available as an ebook or a 6x9 paperback. For excerpts and other details visit or on Amazon Carol's Store.

© 2013 Carol Houle

R U Inspired to Try Self Publishing?

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    • profile image

      Carrie Challoner 3 years ago

      Brilliant article I self published my book this year which was autobiographical but now working on a few books, non fiction and fiction, this has really helped motivate me and continue as it can be slow at first when self publish but this gives me hope.

    • Carol Houle profile image

      Carol Houle 3 years ago from Montreal

      Thanks so much for the encouragement, guys. It is greatly appreciated!

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 3 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Carol - Your hub held my attention from beginning to end. I have several friends who self publish, but I never heard their stories about the effort and procedure. One friend uses Lulu. What is amazing to me is the fact that you had written so many books by the time you self published. You must be organized, or maybe you wrote over a long period of time. Congratulations on your Rising Star accolade. Pinning, Blessings, Audrey

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 3 years ago from California

      Writing stories that are truly marketable is certainly a daunting task - I know, I tried. And self-publishing sounds so terrifying I've never tried it. Hey, now I just write hubs, but occasionally I get the urge to try writing another screenplay. Thanks for the great hub. Later!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Congrats! Your hard work and perseverance have yielded fruitful results at last. I admire your boldness and will power to win the fight without losing hope. Wish you all the best.

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 3 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Congratulations! You certainly have perseverance! I do urge you to check out Pinterest; it definitely isn't just for children. All kinds of people use it to promote their work. Do you have a Facebook page? I have noticed that many people have a personal Facebook account and a business Facebook account where they show their stuff, whatever it might be (I myself am into art, and I am planning to create a separate Facebook page for my art).

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Terrific perseverance. I like your style.

    • kimberlysusanne profile image

      Kim Henson 3 years ago

      Very interesting, congratulations!! Your motivation, detection, and perseverance is inspiring. Good for you! I have OFTEN dreamed of writing a novel, but being in school, planning a wedding, and working full/part-time alternately throughout the years has been a distraction. Your article is a reminder that to see change you must make a change!

    • Sandra Eastman profile image

      Sandra Joy Eastman 3 years ago from Robbinsdale MN

      Good luck on the work and Pinterest is not just for kids. I just began using it and have a board just for my book. Go into my hubs on Rubies and then you can see how I used the pics on Pinterest.

    • Sushma Webber profile image

      Sushma Webber 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Well done Carol, congratulations on self-publishing your novels. I wish you success in your marketing them and all the rest that goes with it. I recently participated in the NaNoWriMo 2014 where writers write the first draft of their novel of 50,000 words. They also have something called CampNaNoWriMo where you can write in April and July. Might be a good idea to check it out.

    • ShirleyJCJohnson profile image

      Shirley Johnson 3 years ago from Sallisaw, OK

      I'm wondering if there is a place where one can submit a manuscript, or idea, and not have to pay a small fortune, or even any amount of money, to get started. Folks like me, who live literally month to month; but, want to be published, can't be.

    • profile image

      ChocolateLily 3 years ago

      I've thought about it, but haven't tried it yet. Best of luck!

    • Carol Houle profile image

      Carol Houle 4 years ago from Montreal

      @KimGiancaterino: Thanks, Kim. No, I don't know anything about Pinterest. I'll check it out, though I imagine it must be used mainly by children. My books are oriented toward young adults :~)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 4 years ago

      Congratulations on your success, and thank you for sharing what you've learned along the way. I'm sure you've discovered Pinterest by now. I've noticed many authors promoting their books on the site (and it's free!)

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      again I can only commend your patience and perseverance. I keep readikng stories like this, as you say more and more people are writing and it does seem so difficult. I write on-line and some poetry but I think I would find a novel too difficult, too sustained an effort. Thanks for your story

    • profile image

      DebW07 4 years ago

      Your determination and perseverance are commendable. I take my (writer's) hat off to you. Thank you for sharing your story, it has reinforced my resolve to write a book one day.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      How wonderful to see your books in print! I hope they are selling well. I need to put more of my novels into books... right now I have only the one: "River Girl"... You are inspiring me to do more. I have more novels on my hard drive that I'd like to share with the world.

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 4 years ago

      I think that getting published is easier today - but being successful is still a really talent that is not easy.

    • mel-kav profile image

      mel-kav 4 years ago

      I have thought about self publishing, but I have not taken that first step yet. Congratulations on all of your published books. What a great accomplishment!

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      You have done a wonderful job. congrats on being a publisher!