Self-Publishing: My Great Learning Experience

Compiled by Maribel Steel

How exciting would it be to be able to announce to the world, "My first book has just been published!" I’m delighted to say that this is how I first heard of my fellow peer and writer friend, Mary Hiland sharing the story of her long overdue struggle to have her book published. For anyone in this similar dilemma to publish or not to publish, let’s see how it turned out for Mary.

The Bumpy Road to Self-Publishing

By Mary Hiland

Mary Hiland standing on a bridge next to a deer statue looking out

This day has been in the making for over two years. After sending out about 150 query letters to traditional publishers all around the world, I finally decided to bite the bullet and self-publish my first book, The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living, A Daughter’s Memoir. I fought with it for a long time, but I thought if it was going to be published in my lifetime, I’d better get real and take matters into my own hands, as many of my friends had done.

Lessons Learned

Self-publishing has been a great learning experience. For instance, I was able to have the book cover designed to my liking and the photographs selected by my sighted daughter, Kara. Proofreading of the manuscript was much more of a project than I had expected. I ended up asking four people to read, reread, and make suggestions for corrections before I felt the book was ready for publication. I learned too that if you choose to go with a traditional publisher, they make most of the choices, even though you are expected to do most of the marketing of your book.

My Book Synopsis

Making the decision to move an elderly parent into assisted living against her will has myriad challenges. Like many adult children who want to respect their parents’ wishes, I didn’t take action until it was crucial. But unlike most adult children, I had to deal with this crisis as an only child who is totally blind. The logistics alone were only the start of my uphill struggle with this task.

book cover bumpy road to assisted living with picture of two hands grasped together

For the last two years of my mother’s life, I learned many lessons about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and she learned to accept the difficulties of being 98 and living in an assisted living community.

In The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living, A Daughter’s Memoir, I describe the move, my mother’s adjustment to a foreign way of life, and the emotional trauma for both of us. I also offer advice and comfort for others experiencing this inevitable change. What makes my story unique is that I tell it with blindness always in the background. You will find some touching moments, some troubling, and some relative to your own life. This is a memoir woven through my observations of who my mother was and who I am.

Would I Do It Again?

If I write a second book, I probably will self-publish. It was a rather expensive venture, but I believe I can cut costs by being more diligent in the editing process before sending it to a professional editor, which is essential for a blind author. Marketing my book myself has proved to be a stretch outside my comfort zone, but so far, my efforts have had positive results. I like being able to design my own cover, arrange my photos myself, and to have the final say on what gets cut and what does not. Having complete control of the finished product is the key to calling it my own. Self-publishing no longer has the stigma of a vanity publication. Books that are self-published find their way into book signings and onto book store shelves, not just into the hands of our family and friends. They are real books, and we are real authors.

Links to Mary’s Book and Video About the Book

Interview with Mary Hiland, Author of The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living, a Daughter’s Memoir

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living, A Daughter’s Memoir by Mary Hiland

Mary’s video about The Bumpy Road

Learn More About Self-Publishing

How I Self-Published a Book as a Writer Who Is Visually Impaired

Self-Publishing: Challenges and Rewards

Please comment on self-publishing. Do you have an experience in the publishing world or tips you would like to share? Leave your comments below.