Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Shelby Patrick: DIY Publishing and the Digital Revolution

Written By: Tracy - May• 10•11

Not too long ago, self-published authors were mavericks going against the grain. But since authors like Jim C. Hines and Michael A. Stackpole have become vocal supporters of self-publishing through digital media the format has gained some mainstream notice. This spring, when self-published author Amanda Hocking signed a deal with St. Martin’s Press, some authors began to sit up and take notice. Now many writers are trying out self-publishing and those early self-published authors don’t look like such mavericks after all.

I spoke recently with Shelby Patrick, author of the self-published novel When Angels Sing about self publishing and how it’s changing the landscape of publishing.

When angels sing is a thriller in which the protagonist, Jenna Michaels is stalked by someone that she meets on the internet.

Blaze was the perfect man: sweet, charming, and 100% gentleman. There was only one catch. Jenna Michaels had never met him face to face. He was her Internet chat buddy. So when he invites her out to visit him, she jumps at the chance. But he’s not anything like she expected, and even worse, he has no recollection of ever talking to her. She doesn’t give up though and decides to find out who the person was behind the Internet buddy. She soon realizes she should have turned tail and ran home because her two weeks in Montana are about to be turned into a cat and mouse game as she is stalked through the streets of Stevensville by a psychotic killer.

When Angels Sing is a thriller with overtones of “be careful who you meet on the internet.” Where did you get the idea for the book?

This idea is actually based a little on fact. I met a guy on the Internet and moved across country to live with him, only to find out he wasn’t who I thought he was. Of course, I’ve added a little more danger to the story and fictionalized it.

What was the process like to bring it to print?

This was my first self-published novel, so I didn’t really have a clue how to put it together. It had to be the correct size for the publisher to print it and I had a little difficulty working with the margins and setting up the final piece. It took several tries and probably weeks before they accepted the format and then I had to send for a proof, which I found plenty of errors with, so I had to start the process all over again. Luckily, the format was already in place so making any changes was much easier. The cover art was another story. I had to use my knowledge of math and measurements to create the perfect cover’s format. It was a very difficult process and there were no templates for the size I wanted, so it had to be done by scratch. It took longer to format the cover than it did for the actual book.

What made you decide to publish your book yourself instead of going the traditional publishing route or even settling on a small publisher?

The publishing industry is very competitive. After paying an editor for a professional edit job, I thought that would make things easier, but I still got plenty of rejections. I had another book that was offered three different contracts; unfortunately, none of them were satisfactory. I decided to try and publish it myself, just as a test. I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

What are some of the things that you had to learn to do for yourself that a publisher might have done for you in the past?

Formatting and submitting the manuscript, of course. The worst part is advertising and getting the word out.

What are some of the advantages to self publishing?

You get to create your own cover, have more control of the layout of the book, and are able to choose its pricing.

What are some of the disadvantages?

You have to do all the work — editing, formatting, submitting, selling, promoting, etc. Self-published books are a little bit more pricey too.

There used to be a stigma attached to self publishing. But it seems that these days even bigger authors who established their reputation in traditional publishing are choosing to self publish. Has this helped you as someone who chose to forgo traditional publishing all together? If so how?

A lot of people out there are still against self-published authors. After all, now anyone can publish a book, and a lot of those self-published books may not really be that well written. It’s refreshing to know that some of the great authors of our time started out self-publishing or went the traditional route and have now delved into the self-published world. There’s still a long way to go before this form of publishing is truly accepted among the masses.

If a traditional publisher approached you (the way that they did with Amanda Hocking) and offered a contract, do you think you would take it?

If the contract was negotiable and both sides prospered from it.

Any advice to others who are thinking of going the self-publishing route?

It’s an option best left open; however, as it is not truly recognized as “the thing to do” in today’s society, I’d advise at least trying to get your first book published through a traditional publisher. Unless you’re somewhat of a celebrity already, you need to have a following before you attempt it on your own.

If you could go back and produce When Angels Sing all over again, is there anything about the process that you would do differently?

I was in a hurry to get the book out before Christmas, so I rushed it. The story itself could have been revised at least one more time and I went ahead and submitted it rather quickly. Traditional publishers take a year or two before the book comes out and I can see why. Rushing into things only results in mistakes. Good writing takes time. Research, write, edit, proof, and then start all over again.

Where can we find the book on the internet? Do you have a webpage? Facebook fan page?

It’s available at,, and

You can read the first few chapters online at:

Signed copies, along with free bookmarks, can be ordered at my web page,

The Facebook fan page is located at and my blog can be found at

I also have a trailer for the book at:

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  1. Most interesting! Thanks for the insight. 🙂

  2. Thanks Tracy for posting this today. I really appreciate it.

    • Tracy says:

      No problem. It was an interesting interview. I’ve wanted to post an interview on the subject of self publishing right now, especially since it is getting so much attention right now. Thank you!

  3. Refreshing take on self-publishing in digital. Always is the promo that’s hardest, no matter what route one takes to authorship. Maybe it always was? Heavy sigh. Good to share stories with people who love their craft.