My Self-Publishing Nightmare

V Pendragon
6 min readSep 18, 2023

This is the second time I have posted this piece. I wrote it in the second week of September, 2003, and, when I went to publish it here on Medium, it had disappeared from my desktop. It was nowhere to be found. Not in the trash. Not in Email. Not in any folder anywhere… and I was feeling a tad paranoid… now I’m just pissed.

I intend to re-issue this piece on a regular basis until I get from Amazon Pro Publishing the money they owe me for dragging me through their “self-publishing” process and paying all the ‘associated’ fees that entailed — or — they publish the book. They took over $1000 from me overall and they did not publish the book.

I am an elderly — late 70’s — disabled woman. I am typing this with the sides of my thumb nails which is the way I type everything… including the autobiography that I finally completed earlier this year. My usual publisher, whom I honor and respect, declined to publish my autobiography because the books they publish are primarily on spiritual matters and, although the life I’d led was exactly the reason that I ended up involved with — and writing about — matters spiritual, my life itself had been just about as far from spiritually uplifting as you can get, so I can’t say as I blame them. The book is definitely outside their very lovely parameters… still, I felt that it needed to be written for the sake of the countless individuals who, like myself, were horribly abused as children and then made to feel — not always consciously or on purpose, but sometimes under not-so-veiled threats — that they should never speak of what happened to them.

I do not want to be publishing this particular editorial piece which is concerned with the truly frustrating and disheartening experience I endured attempting to get the book “self published,” but at this point, because for reasons unexplained and, to me, inexplicable, it is not getting published… at least not so far. What follows is the story to this point, today.

Earlier this year, my publishers turned down my manuscript- an autobiography — which I knew they would. Although the events that are related in that book are the very things that allowed me to become — or perhaps forced me to become — a person who would be writing books about healing from trauma, it is a work that, in itself, is far, far from their spiritually-oriented publishing. Despite the fact that I knew full well that they would most likely reject the manuscript, I found it disconcerting as, without having experienced the ongoing trauma that was my childhood, I would never have ended up writing books on healing. But they didn’t want the ugly stuff. Their focus is on The Light and they were stickin’ to that. Thus my unpleasant adventure in the world of so-called self- publishing began.

I investigated I don’t know how many options; I stopped counting at around six. The cost was, to me, staggering. Then I remembered Amazon. I called and spoke with a woman whose name, if this frazzled brain recalls correctly, was Joan. The cost to publish there was high… but not higher than the lowest of the other options I’d been given. I needed to think about it and bowed, as politely as I could, out of the conversation.

The next morning, in my inbox, there was an Email from someone name John. The return address read “Oh,” I thought to myself, “someone is getting back to me… perhaps with a better offer. “ I responded to the Email, discovered that I was right — or, perhaps more correctly, thought I had discovered that I was right — and took the better offer.

Not long afterwards, I received an Email from Joan asking me if I’d given any more thought to the matter and to her offer. I responded, letting her know about the Email from John. She responded immediately, clearly disturbed by my actions, asking why I’d done it. I explained everything as I understood things to be, telling her about the Email address and my perception that this was from someone ‘higher up’ that she’d passed our negotiations on to. I sent her what I’d been sent and have never heard from her since. I felt terrible.

I’d feel worse.

I have had, as mentioned previously, a few books published by a very reputable publisher: Ozark Mountain Publishing. I’d send them my completed manuscripts; they’d edit them; I’d review them; they’d publish them. It was good. I had no idea, though, just how remarkably good it was until I experienced so-called self-publishing.

I understand that, because the book in question will be on the record as coming from a self-publishing company with a reputation of its own to think about, that they would want the book edited as well. Only, since it is a “self-publisher,” it is as well a “self-proofreader”…sort of. What happened for me was that the ‘pros’ at APP and I differed on matters pertaining to what I considered ‘style’ and ‘voice’ and I’m not really sure what they considered because the changes they’d send were never explained. It took numerous back-and-forth Emails to sort that out but they finally got it, though at first it was rare, indeed, when I didn’t have to un-correct their corrections.

Then there came the matter of the cover. As the title of the book is Scorpio x 10, they presented me with a couple of astrologically-based samples, most of which had a sort of stick figure hanging by one hand from the constellation. The samples were far from thrilling but certainly better than anything I could create and I approved one.

Then it came time for the actual release of the book. There were more options than I’d imagined: soft cover/hard cover, online sales only or actual release to bookstores (more money to put out, of course), and ISBN# to protect the book from being ‘stolen’ and reprinted in foreign lands (yet again another financial investment). I suspect I’m forgetting some information here but you get the idea: more money, more money, more money. Then there was something about setting up some sort of account for the financial stuff. I turned that over to my husband as it seemed more complicated than I could grok.

But here’s the thing, about three weeks ago I was informed that the book would be published and ‘out’ in two weeks. After almost a month had passed, I ran a search for “Scorpio x 10” on Amazon and came up with nothing. Nothing.

Previous to now, I’d had a publisher; they edited my books and then published them. I’d expected something similar would happen with self-publishing except that I would be responsible for editing and other decision-making events around the actual publication. Then, yesterday morning, I received an Email asking if I was “ready to publish.” I responded to the Email stating that I was, in fact, quite ready to publish. A while later I received an Email with what appeared to be a password, a jumble of letters and numbers. That’s what was in the Email. Just that.

I wish I could tell you today that I knew what was supposed to happen but I have no idea. All I know — which I had to discover in retrospect — is that the jumble had indeed been a password that, I’m imagining, was linked to the book in some way, or to my ‘account.’ I went about my business and, sometime later, when I got back to my Email, there was a message about my having waited too long to … too long to do what? There had, literally, been nothing in that Email to indicate anything, just this jumble of letters and numbers. I still don’t know. I’m imagining that the password was linked to some part of the process to get this book printed but no one told me anything. Nothing.

I Emailed the ‘publishers’ to find out when we could try this again, once I thought that I had deduced what was supposed to happen. But literally nothing further has happened. I am writing this on a Friday. I think most businesses are up and running on a Friday. I sent out an inquiry this morning but, as of 3:20 PM, have heard absolutely nothing back.

So if you’re new to this — as I am — and you’d ever given a thought to self-publishing you might want to avoid Amazon Publishing Pros. Just sayin’. Clearly it’s no place for a neophyte.

PS: The books pictured above are the ones published by Ozark Mountain



V Pendragon

Artist; Author of self-help books on healing with Ozark Mt. Publishers; survivor of two 'fatal, incurable' diseases and a healthy dose of CSA