Self-Publishing Insights: Q&A With Lisa Renee Jones

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Community

Today I am so excited to host Lisa Renee Jones at DIY MFA. Throughout her career, Lisa has navigated both the traditional publishing world and self-publishing, and has lots of great insights about both. An entrepreneur at heart, Lisa is the CEO of a multi-state staffing agency that has been featured in several magazines and was recognized as one of the fastest growing women-owned businesses by Entrepreneur magazine. Lisa is business rockstar and she brings this savvy to publishing her books as well.

As a marketing junkie myself, I loved learning about how Lisa shifts between traditional and self-publishing and hearing her advice on all things writing. I had the chance to meet Lisa at BEA and it was a true meeting of the minds. Read on to get Lisa’s insights and advice about both traditional and self-publishing.


1) Why did you choose to self-publish?

There are benefits to NY publishing and self publishing. I decided to add self publishing as a piece of my career because my years in business taught me that everything changes, which means you as a person have to as well. As things change and grow, you have to learn and take advantage of opportunity, but be insightful enough not to realize a new change will happen again. What is great now will again shift. It’s about creating a well-rounded portfolio that you as a business person are in control of, be it choosing the right NY deals or self publishing.

2) Tell us the story of how you chose to switch gears to traditional publishing? What is it like to navigate both worlds?

I was in traditional publishing for many years before I ever self published, so it was more a matter of finding the right way to meld them together. Adding traditional publishing for a series that was optioned for television made sense, and we already knew that was in the works when I signed the NY deal for the Inside Out series. Traditional publishing gives the books expanded distribution to readers.

3) What factors played into that decision?

I skipped forward and answered that in the last reply but to add to my response, the money and options (contractual rights) of future work had to be right. I also wanted to feel good about the publisher and the people I’d be working with, and I love my editor at Simon and Schuster. Anyone in traditional publishing that has been around any time at all knows how important the relationship between editor and author is to success. Also distribution and foreign rights were key to me, and then marketing and how that would be handled now and later.

4) Contrast between self-publishing and a traditional book deal?

photo1Self Publishing offers the author more control where traditional publishing gives the publishing house more control. The author IS the publishing house for self-published works.

You get paid differently as a self published author. Lump sum up front with traditional and then chunks of money when certain contractual terms are met. In self-publishing you get paid every 60 days.

Some would say you have less work with traditional publishing on editing and administrative work but I honestly don’t see that. I get my work edited no matter what and there are many stages of the editing process an author proofs the work during. You do pay for editing and covers on your own.

As for promotion, most NY authors determined to sell books spend money to advertise no matter what.

There is more flexibility with self pub. You can see what works or doesn’t work and make fast changes, even to a cover.

a) What was your favorite part of self-publishing? Traditional publishing?

My readers finding my books and liking them is always the most rewarding wonderful part of being a writer.

b) What was your least favorite part of each?

Stressing over deadlines and worry over how readers will feel about the work. As writers we always want to make our readers happy. That is everything or the rest means nothing.

c) What took you most by surprise?

How many authors don’t see this as a business. Yes your work is your heart and soul, but publishers need to make money to stay in business. Authors have to treat this as a business. Those they are dealing with are.

5) What’s the #1 piece of advice you’d give a writer who is deciding between self-publishing and traditional?

Educate yourself and that doesn’t mean once. Over and over you need to learn from others and put yourself in positions to keep learning. Make the time or the changes happening around you will happen and leave you in the dust.

6) For your next creative project, do you plan to self-publish or go the traditional route? Give us a hint about this project. We’re dying to know, what’s next?

I just self published Escaping Reality, my first new adult, that like the Inside Out Series, is a sexy mystery. I love mystery and alpha men so you will find lots of both. Then Revealing Us, my 3rd Inside Out novel is out in September.


Lisa Renee Jones is the author of more than 30 best-selling novels. Jones has impressive roots in the business world as the owner and CEO of a multi-state staffing agency that was consistently recognized by The Austin Business Journal and Dallas Women magazine and grossed up to $16 million in sales. In 1998 her company was listed seventh in a list of fastest growing women-owned businesses by Entrepreneur magazine. She has brought this aptitude to the business of marketing her novels to create a smashing success using social media. Her publishing career began in 2007 and has grown to encompass her successful self-publishing career as well as more than 30 books with Simon & Schuster, Avon, Kensington, Harlequin, NAL, Berkley and Elloras Cave.

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