Why I Chose to Self-publish After Two Successful Traditionally Published Books

Or: Why I'm self-publishing 10 Books in 10 months

I went to my first AA meeting (Alcoholics Anonymous for those unfamiliar) when I was in fourth grade. No, I wasn't an extremely young person with a substance abuse problem. However, my mother didn't have particularly strong boundaries or a sense of what might be appropriate for kids, never mind the fact that the other attendees probably weren't thrilled to share their issues with the ten-year old sitting in the circle eating store brand vanilla cookies and drinking apple juice. But you know… Life.

Prior to this, my mother used to drive a white Thunderbird circa the 80s. She had a red bumper sticker that said, "Shit Happens." Once she drove it off the side of a cliff. It was a small cliff, but still. The thing survived. So did she. Incidentally, the engine exploded outside of Queens and that was that. Anyway, the point is yes, shit does happen. It happens all of the time. Shitty things. Shitty people. Shitty emojis. Shit pickles. For a long time I wholly believed in that phrase—it was printed on a bumper sticker after all!—and that when shit happened, well, it was shitty. Instead of the popular earworm from the Lego movie: "Everything is awesome," my childhood anthem was, "Everything is shitty."

But I've come to understand that although shit happens it isn't so much the shit itself that causes the problem, it's how we react, respond, or run from our shit. Sometimes we flip our shit, fly off the handle, go bonkers. This often results in broken glass, lawsuits, and headaches. We can also run, and just say, "Screw it. I can't handle this shit." This often results in the shit coming back to us in one form or another much like Karma, but only because it's a lesson the Universe still wants us to learn. A third option is we can just wallow in our shit like a pig in mud. "Oh, woe is me, my life is shit."

Alternately, we can respond. This is like the yoga-spa-meditative answer to life. This is digging deep and realizing that the world and the man aren't out to get me, however there is no escape from my problems or my emotions. (For many years, I was under the impression that feeling what we dub negative emotions is bad and should be avoided at all costs. That's not to say I enjoy depression or anxiety, but they're often indicators of a life out of balance and ultimately serve a purpose in our growth as individuals and as part of the community at large. But I digress...)

So responding to life (versus reacting) might look something like this: "Wow, this is a really shitty situation. It makes me feel like shit (or any given variation on feeling shitty). How the heck did I find myself here? Why am I surrounded by so much shit? What did I do to contribute to this shit pickle? Was I shitty to so and so? What is my role in this shit sitch? And then the big leap… What can I do to change this? Or in other words, how can I clean up the shit from my side of the street?

I'm not saying when really, really bad things happen it's our fault. No, what I'm saying is that I've completed 27 manuscripts, totaling well over 1,770,077 words. (Not including projects that I never finished), and when only two of those are traditionally published, one of which hasn't earned out its advance, I might find myself wallowing or pointing fingers or wanting to throw my laptop out of a second story window. This isn't to say I'm not incredibly, extremely, sometimes struck dumb with gratitude about my opportunity in the publishing world. I've met some incredible people, learned getting a book from draft to bookshelf is a collaborative team effort, and being read by readers is a privilege. All of that is true and very much on my heart. What I'm saying is I might once or twice have felt like, well, why don't agents/editors want my next book? (This is the finger pointing) Why aren't readers reading my work? Why, why, why? Why me? Why not me? (This is the wallowing).

But I've realized this isn't shit. This is life and damn, it's grand because I have the opportunity to grow. How? By dialing back all the frustration and whining and using what sometimes feels like overwhelming and shitty emotions as fuel. It's time to get creative. To analyze the situation as objectively as possible and then ask myself, "Okay, now what? What's next?"

It's responding instead of reacting or running.

I've been thinking a lot lately about words like tenacity, persistence, and perseverance. The road of an artist, a creative, and author is traveled one brushstroke, one word, one step at a time. It isn't always easy, but neither is love. And that's why we do it. Right? I write because I have to, because I have stories to tell, because it fills me with a kind of joy I don't find elsewhere. And when I write I'm not thinking about sales or fans or even holding the published book in my hands. Rather, I write for the sake of writing even when it's challenging, even when my character is in a corner, even when sales are lousy. Even when it's shitty for goodness sakes! It can feel severe at times, harsh, but I persevere because with every word I'm a little closer to the love and light in the world and to me that is success.

So if I'm already successful then what do I fear I have to lose? Because that's what feeling shitty is: fear. It's being afraid of daring, failing, succeeding, shining. It's being afraid of living a life where everything is indeed AWESOME. And being able to handle your shit when it isn't.

This brings me to the notion of the shit sandwich. Mark Manson of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck fame and also highlighted in Liz Gilbert's Big Magic posits this: "WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR OF SHIT SANDWICH AND DOES IT COME WITH AN OLIVE?"

The idea is that in life, "everything sucks, some of the time." To follow the theme of this essay, I'd say, somethings are shitty, some of the time. What this means is that life has its ups and downs, ebbs and flows, highs and lows. Our endeavors, passions, and dreams all take dedicated action, hard work, sweat, diligence…and more. According to Mark, the shit sandwich question becomes, "what struggle or sacrifice are you willing to tolerate? Ultimately, what determines our ability to stick with something we care about is our ability to handle the rough patches and ride out the inevitable rotten days." And I'll add, even then, not wholly focusing on the shitty stuff because when we focus on shit, chances are we'll see, if not get, more of it.

This resonates with me on a high frequency. This is what writing and publishing and being in it for the long game means. It means I'm going to keep writing. I'm not quitting after 1,770,077 words. Not after hundreds (okay, thousands) of rejections from literary agents—I've lost track. Not when sales average around the $2 range for weeks. And certainly not when life happens.

I'm going to keep writing and growing and getting better at craft and storytelling and doing what I do because it makes me happy. If it connects me with millions or just brings a smile to the faces of a handful of people or tears to the eyes of a girl from Hungary or enters the hearts of a thousand or so people who see themselves in a story I write—, either way it’s a win. It's not quantity, but the quality of the experience

When the dog wakes me up early, and I still find the energy to get in a chapter or three. When I lose track of time and find myself in that magical, expansive place of creation. When I come to a deeper understanding of who I am and who you are and what it means that the universe has our backs because we're all connected I'm living life.

That's my shit sandwich and, I'll gladly eat it with an olive.

Okay, moving on from shit. I got off track. Way off track. I was talking about AA meetings, but now you get a better sense of my childhood and how over the years it's provided me with opportunities to deeply reflect on life.

So have you ever been to an AA meeting? Or a therapy group formatted similar to one? If we were in the mildewed basement of a church somewhere in Massachusetts, I'd start by saying, "My name is Deirdre Riordan Hall. I'm a traditionally and self-published novelist who enjoys eating a particular kind of shit sandwich layered with creative writing, teen fiction, fantasy, and romance. It's lovely to meet you."

What made me come to this meeting?

Remember I mentioned I've written 27 books? I call them my backlist and in order to move what felt like stagnant energy surrounding my writing life (in other words, my shit sandwich had gotten kind of stale), I decided to shift my energy. Just before New Year's, I had what one of my high school besties might have called a "flash of brilliance." One of those light bulb moments. Don't get me wrong, I mulled it over with charts and graphs and a lot of bubbles in my stomach, but in the end I decided to call it, "2017, an epic year in self-publishing." Or "Ten books in ten months." Or "This is my shit sandwich, want a bite?" Okay, no, not that. But ambitious and nutty and awesome, I know! That's me in three words.

I needed to share those older books to make room for the new!

I did this because I write in a variety of genres: contemporary and fantasy, even moving between women's, teen, and middle grade. By self-publishing, I can easily shift between all of these, whereas traditional prefers you pick one and stick to it. Not always, but much of the time.

I also decided to return to my roots as it were: back in 2012, I think, I learned about self-publishing and got up the guts to go for it aka I followed my bliss with the, ahem, Follow your Bliss six book romance series.

Self-publishing gives me a lot of creative freedom, from content to cover design. That also means I also have to do or outsource it, but I enjoy the process, or at least am willing to eat the shittier parts of it (with olives, natch).

Although I can sing the praises of my publishing team at Skyscape all darn day (they're amazing, creative, inspiring, insightful, and really, really awesome). As a writer, it's also nice to have full creative freedom. Lately, I'm all about freedom in time and finances and life in general.

A while back, I contributed to Forever YA with a post about being a hybrid author if you're interested in knowing more about my experience.

Also, here is my editorial schedule, as it were:

1/17: Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told women’s romantic comedy
2/17: How Not to Fall in Love women’s romantic comedy novella
3/17: Chasing Days a young adult novel
4/17: Spent a young adult novel
5/17: Tide a young adult fantasy, Sea & Sand Series
6/17: Anchored a young adult fantasy, Sea & Sand Series 
>I also snuck in My Essential Oils Journal because I'm obsessed with them & needed a way to keep track<
7/17: Fight Camp Book 1: Firebird Born a young adult dystopian
8/17: Fight Camp Book 2: Firebird Rising a young adult dystopian
9/17: An Irish Dancer's Handbook (just what it sounds like)
10/17: Fairy Cakes middle grade magical realism

Previously Published:
Through the Jungle a FREE prequel & sequel to the
To the Sea a new adult novel
Surfaced a new adult novella
In the Desert a new adult novel
Mirrored a new adult novella
On the Mountain a new adult novel
Kindled a new adult novella

Sugar a young adult novel
Pearl a young adult novel

Book Promotion 365: how to reach readers and share your work with the world non-fiction

So this is life. Life happens. Books  happen.

If you'd like to try the shit sandwich I mentioned, if you eat them every day for lunch, or if you enjoy the results of my shit sandwiches (no, don't go there; remember, this is a metaphor), we're in this together. This thing called life. We're in the same community, supported by the same universe. It's hard and it's awesome. It's shitty and it's beautiful.

Life is the kind of paradox that will leaves me wonderstruck on the daily, even if I have a shit sandwich in my hand. You too?

 P.S. If you know anyone who might gain insight from reading this, please share!

Fight Camp: Firebird Born Cover Reveal

It's cover reveal day! Yay!🔥

My latest two-book series is a dystopian called 
Fight Camp: Firebird Born. 

And it involves:



And fighting... lots of fighting 

Fighting for freedom

Fighting for love

And for what's right... 
(I almost started singing the Beastie Boys song, 
because believe it or not there is some partying.)

But you came here for the cover, right? 

Don't worry, I won't make you fight for it ;-)

Scroll down...


When government officials recruit sixteen-year-old Aran Fenn to summer camp, she leaves her idyllic home in Domain AL and crashes into a violent reality of aggressive campers and ultimate fight training. As she struggles to trust her bunkmate—who knocks her out on the first night—and Cal—who helps heal her wounds in secret—, she quickly realizes telling the counselors that she wants to go home isn’t an option.

Weeks pass and Aran prepares for the trials, including a high voltage tug of war, crossing a bed of hot coals, and enduring ten minutes in the Cage. She learns she's supposed to be at a different camp to exploit her intelligence, but fight camp is supposedly the better of the two. She's also told her green eyes are a life-threatening liability and finds out that after the Last War the Regime isolated the people to create a stronger army, rendering her life a science experiment.

Aran doesn't want to fight, but rather get home to her family even if that means letting go of her budding romance with Cal. However, when she learns the reality of her world, she's willing to put her life on the line and do whatever it takes to gain freedom.

Fight Camp: Firebird Born comes out on July 11th. 

Pre order your copy now! 

And please add to Goodreads!


Oh, and you don't have to wait long for the sequel, Fight Camp: Firebird Rising. It hits shelves August 15th.

Did you catch the puzzle reveal over on Insta? Let me know what you think of the cover. It's by Cheyanne at the amazing Nova Book Covers. Check out her Etsy.

I'd love to know what some of your favorite dystopian reads are. And if you're wondering just how geeky I get, I went to the opening of Divergent as a dauntless. Just sayin'. 


Epic Sci Fi Summer Loop Giveaway on Instagram

Welcome to the Epic Sci Fi Summer INSTAGRAM Loop Giveaway. There are a total of 8 authors participating, which means you have the chance to win 8+ books, swag, and a $30 Amazon Gift card! If you complete the loop, you'll be entered to win the following prizes:
A signed copy of Deviants by Maureen McGowan
A digital copy of Double Life by S. Usher Evans
A signed copy of Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand
A signed copy of Fight Camp: Firebird Born by Deirdre Riordan Hall
Digital copies of the three-book City of Legends Series by Cheyanne Young
A signed copy of In Between Seasons by Cassandra Giovanni
A digital copy of Blood & Water by Briana Morgan
Plus book SWAG & a $30 Amazon Gift Card
Here's how to do the loop aka the rules. (It's kind of like a game of telephone ;-)
1. Follow all of the accounts in the loop. If you tap the photo, the name of the next author for you to visit is tagged.

2. Tell a friend! Comment below with a friend you'd think would like to enter too! Also feel free to comment! We'd love to know what is going to make your summer epic!

3. Remember you must follow ALL Instagram accounts (there are 8) in order for your entry to be valid. We’ll be checking!

4. Once you get back here, you’ve completed the loop!

5. Winners will be announced on July 5, 2017
*This giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by Instagram.

Hope you have fun & do let me know in the comments below or on Instagram what's going to make your summer epic! 


Anchored Release Day!

I've written a lot about patience and why it's important, especially in the writing and publishing world. But it's so stinking hard to wait for things, amiright? 

Patience is one of my most valued, but least cultivated virtues. (Sigh.) But when I get to the last page of a book and there's the hint of a cliffhanger or I'm actually dangling over the edge, I just want that next book so bad and have to wait a year or more (gasp!) for the followup. #readerproblems. 

Well, not this time, friends. Anchored, the second  novel in the Sea & Sand series comes out today! Just about a month after Tide. How's that for awesome? Or as Tyler would say, "Totally radical, dudes." Kidding. Sorta. Actually, Sean his bestie is more into the surfer speak, but I digress.

It's release day! Yay! Celebrate with me on social and share with your friends because good friends share good books ;-)

As men continue to succumb to the sea, Tyler fears for the safety of the people in Land's End and struggles to maintain the secrecy of the underwater world, including the origins of his girlfriend, Amara, former mero, aka mermaid.  
But the biggest mystery of all is his connection to the ocean.

After his aunt passes away, Tyler puts pieces of his genealogy together when she leaves him and Kiwa, a local girl and surfer, her house and maritime legacy. The ex-friends are at odds after she deceived him, yet she has answers.

However, Kiwa's gone missing.

Going on information gathered about the history of the mero, Tyler and Amara travel from Atlantic to Pacific. There, they make a startling discovery about ghost pirates, an angry sea king, unrequited love, and an ancient curse.

However, everything they're looking for is a lot closer than they realize.

Clues and sea relics lead Tyler to the Magna Maris, an ancient document outlining how to break the curse and reunite the inhabitants of the sea and put an end to the theft of the souls of men.

Unfortunately, Amara believes she's the curse breaker.

Tyler has to convince Amara they can be together while fighting an epic battle for life on land and below the ocean, along with grappling with the truth of who he really is.

 ~ ~ ~

Get your copy of Anchored

US // UK // AU

~ ~ ~

Please share the Sea & Sand Series love with your Twitter, 

Facebook, & social media friends:

Copy and paste to Tweet:
Never trust a mermaid's kiss. Tide & Anchored, a two book series told on the sea & sand #youngadult  #fantasy https://www.amazon.com/Anchored-Sea-Sand-Book-2-ebook/dp/B0725DWZCL

Copy & Paste for Facebook:
When sailors go missing off the coast of the Atlantic, Tyler learns alluring and beautiful doesn't mean harmless, leaving it up to him to stop the mero. But when a girl goes missing, questions about his family ancestry prompt Tyler and Amara on a trip from Atlantic to Pacific to find answers and save mariners from losing their souls to the sea. Along the way, he has to find a lost relic, face the mero, the skylo, a boat of ghost pirates, the Great Sea Council, and Poseidon along with the truth of who he really is. https://www.amazon.com/Anchored-Sea-Sand-Book-2-ebook/dp/B0725DWZCL
~ ~ ~

There you have it! Thank you so much for joining me on this mermaid and magic journey. I'd love if you leave a review on Amazon & Goodreads, and of course tell your friends and family how much you enjoyed the books. 

And stay tuned because there's more fiction from me coming your way!


Romantic Summer Reading Challenge

Hey, book lovers! This one is for my women's fiction readers. Remember those summer reading programs from when we were kids? You would read a certain number of books and get a pizza. Or maybe if you completed a list of books you received a certificate and a prize from the librarian. Why should the fun end just because we're adults? Join us this summer for the inaugural Romantic Summer Reading Challenge

Now through midnight (CDT) September 4, read all ten books on our reading list to win prizes. This year’s featured books include:

How does it work? When you finish each book on the list, leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Then, once you are done with all ten, copy the links on the entry form, complete the rest of the information, and submit it. After September 4, everyone who completes the challenge will receive a free ebook from one of the authors’ backlist. You will also be entered in the drawing for a chance to win one of ten prize packages created by the authors (valued at $20 each) and the grand prize of a $100 Amazon gift card. (No purchase necessary to win. Prize packages limited to U.S. residents only this year.)

What if you’ve already read one (or more) of the books on this list? It still counts. Just post your review and share the link on the form

If this sounds like fun way to discover new authors, score a free book, and enter for a chance to win prizes, please join us! You can also follow the Facebook page, which will include author takeovers that give you a chance to interact with authors and other readers throughout the summer.

I'm so excited for this unique challenge + the great prizes!!! Please share the summer reads you're most excited for!

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