It’s time I came out of the closet. I have been suffering with this secret for years. While society is more accepting of people who dare to follow their hearts and be different, there is still stigma attached to this secret I have been harboring. Once I reveal it, I know my parents will love me the same. My sister and brother, too. Even my friends. But there are narrow-minded, prejudiced and discriminatory people who will shun me. But still, I must be true to who I am. Therefore, I am officially coming out of the closet as a self-published author.

            Did you think I was coming out of the closet as a lesbian? I already did that twenty years ago. It was and remains very natural for me to present myself to the world as a gay woman. But coming out as a self-published author has been more difficult.

            Why is that so when the following are true:

            Self-published writers can marry, foster children and adopt children in every state.

            The children of self-published authors do not get bullied in school.

            The spouses of self-published authors can collect their social security benefits.

            Writers who are self-published are allowed to be by their writing partner’s bedside if she should become sick.

            Hate crimes are not committed against self-published authors.

            Why did I hesitate to come out of the closet as a self-published author? Why did I allow myself to feel inferior since I am not traditionally published?

            The answer: I was afraid and embarrassed not to fit into the expectations of society.

            But what I know now - what I have always known - is that we are all the same. Living, breathing, loving and creative people who want to be happy.

            I also know that self-published authors are just like those who are traditionally published:

            We have our books edited.

            Our books are properly formatted.

            The covers of our books are expertly designed.

            Our books are available as eBooks and paperbacks and for distribution on-line and in brick-and-mortar stores.

            Our books are marketed and publicized.

            Sometimes our books sell and sometimes they don’t.

            We do book signings, speak at events, appear at book groups and write blog posts.

            We have fans.

            Where we differ from those traditionally published is that we do not have to send query after query hoping an agent finds us worthy, we don’t have to wait for that agent to sell our books, we do not have to hang on another two years after that for our books to be available to readers, we have full editing control, and we do not need the approval of a publishing community that looks to copy the latest successful novel. In other words, I do not have to write a Fifty Shades of Grey knock-off to get published.

            Looking back, I don’t know why I feared coming out of the closet as a self-published author except now that I am out, I am never going back in.

            To all of you self-published authors who are hiding in the literary closet, I encourage you to step out. You are collecting more royalty payments with each book you sell. You keep all of the rights to your books and your cover art. Editors and publishers who work for traditional houses are culling the Internet looking for self-published authors. Hollywood is watching us too.

            Shout that you are self-published and be proud. Wave a flag. March in a parade. After all, we – the self-published writers of the world – are here to stay.

            To read my story of going from traditionally published to self-published, click here and read my blog post: Alchemy.

joanne lewis

When Joanne Lewis is not practicing law, she is writing. She pens murder mysteries, historical fiction and historical fantasy books and is the author of several award-winning novels. As an author, she hopes to entertain, to educate, and perhaps to enlighten. As an attorney, she is most proud of her work as an assistant state attorney and as a guardian ad litem representing the best interests of children.

Her books are available on Kindle, as paperbacks, and as audio books.

Her latest release is Bee King, a historical novel that is about the first person in the United States diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and takes place from the start of the Civil War until 1910. Just like the people who inhabited Five Points in lower Manhattan during the 1800s and the turn of the century, Bee King traverses the pentagonal streets where abolitionists battled copperheads, immigrants clashed among social, religious and political strife, and doctors and psychologists strained to help patients. Told in Five Points (sections), Bee King is dramatized through conventional literary devices as well as through newspaper articles, a manifesto, and other non-traditional tools.

The Forbidden trilogy consists of the novels: Forbidden Room, Forbidden Night, and Forbidden Horses. Forbidden Room is her best-selling novel.

In Forbidden Room, the first book in the Forbidden trilogy, new attorney Michael Tucker has few clients, yearns to be like his famous grandmother and cannot afford to move out of his parents' home. Sara Goldstein is an heiress accused of killing her uncle. When Sara hires Michael, he gets the chance to defend an innocent person, a beautiful lover and notoriety like his grandmother. But is it more than he asked for? Is Sara innocent or is she a murderer?

Forbidden Night, the second book in the Forbidden trilogy, delves further into Michael and Sara’s complicated relationship, as well as into Soldier Boy’s psyche, into their family histories, and into the creation of the carousel horses. The question posed in Forbidden Room, the first book of the Forbidden trilogy—Is Sara innocent or is she a murderer—is answered.

Forbidden Horses, the final book in the Forbidden trilogy, travels to the eighteenth century and takes place in Austria to reveal the troubled history of the creation of the carousel horses.

Michelangelo & Me is a series of five novellas in the genre of historical fantasy.

In the first book of the series, Michelangelo & the Morgue, seventeen-year-old Michelangelo defies religious and political powers in order to capture a serial killer who is murdering the artists of Florence. In Sleeping Cupid, the second book, Michelangelo’s believed-to-be lost statue narrates his journey from fifteenth century Florence, Italy until the present day where he lives in an attic in a sleepy Florida town. Future books in the anthology include Space Between, School of the World and Michelangelo & Me.

The Lantern is a historical novel about a modern-day woman's search to find a girl from 15th century Florence, Italy who dared to enter the competition to build the lantern on top of Brunelleschi's dome. Across time and space, three lives collide as they battle abuse, disease, fear and prejudice in pursuit of their dreams. Along the way, they intersect with some of the most famous figures of the Renaissance including members of the Medici, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello and a young Michelangelo.

Wicked Good, a different kind of love story, begins in Bangor, Maine. Fifteen-year-old Rory is not defined by his diagnoses of Asperger's syndrome and Bipolar Disorder and lives life to the fullest. Archer, his adoptive mother, is Rory's biggest fan. Rory searches for his birth parents to find out why he is the way he is. He discovers his roots in Salem, Massachusetts where the Salem Witch Trials had occurred, and in Gloucester, Massachusetts where fishermen went down with the Andrea Gail during the Perfect Storm. He also learns his true roots are closest to his home in Bangor. As Rory discovers truths about himself, Archer learns about herself too.

Make Your Own Luck is the unforgettable and moving novel of Remy Summer Woods, a young attorney who refuses to believe thirteen-year-old Bonita Pickney killed her father, Patrick Pickney. Remy risks her relationship with her own father as well as her life to prove Bonita's innocence. Along with learning what happened the night Patrick was murdered, Remy discovers hard truths about her family and herself.

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