It Takes a Tribe (to Publish a Book)

To write a book is a solitary endeavor. It must be so. Sure, writers have sources that help fine-tune their work, but it is the writer—and her alone—who must write the words.

But writing a book, if it is to be published (and really, what purpose does a book serve if not shared with the world?), is just the first step in a daunting and seemingly never-ending process that must happen before your book is delivered into the hands of readers.

Fork in road coutesy of usda.gov

The first step in the process is deciding whether to try the traditional publishing route (in which approximately 2-3 out of every 10,000 manuscripts will be accepted and will deliver royalties in the neighborhood of 7.5% per paperback book sold and 20% for every ebook), or self-publish (which provides for royalties of up to 70%).

Fork in Road Multiple

For a number of reasons, I chose the self-publishing route, and suddenly a long list of tasks and decisions lay before me. I sat down to list them all out and realized I had no idea where to begin. My head began to spin, and after hours of wracking my brain, I ended up with a To Do list that looked something like this:

To Do List

Because I’d joined my local chapter of Romance Writers of America, I had a fabulous critique partner, but I knew I would need beta readers, an editor, and a cover artist. I would need reviewers, a manuscript converter, and a whole host of things I probably hadn’t thought of. Oh yeah, and a social platform.

Image Courtesy of Google Images
Image Courtesy of Google Images

I’m an introvert by nature, and you want me to go out into cyberspace to promote myself and pimp my work? Eeww, no way! That just feels…wrong. And scary. And so not like me.

To say that I felt alone and overwhelmed is an understatement. So much so that I actually shelved the idea of publishing my first book and wrote another one. And then another.

And then over dinner one night with my critique partner, Patricia Rickrode (writing as Jansen Schmidt), we began to talk about publishing. I lamented, “I know I want to self-publish, but it takes a bloody village to produce a book. And I have no idea where to start.”

“Then join the Tribe,” Patricia said. “That’s how I got started blogging and doing social media.”

I blinked. Twice. “The Tribe?”

“Yeah, the WANA Tribe,” Patricia said.

WANA stands for We Are Not Alone.  The WANA Tribe’s motto is:

Creativity cannot thrive on its own. Genius needs help, support, and love. Your family doesn’t get you? They no longer have to. WE TOTALLY GET YOU!

A motto that still brings tears to my eyes! Finally, someone who gets me. ME!

“But what is WANA Tribe, exactly?” you might be asking.

Founded by WANA Mama Kristen Lamb, who has devoted her career to helping writers, WANA is a group of creatives sharing their knowledge and experience to help other creatives like you (and me). A “tribe” is a group, designed to discuss a specific topic. Here are just a few examples of current (active) tribes:

Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
Christian Writers
YA Writers
Self-Publishers
Scrivener Users Unite!
Writing While Parenting
Social Marketing
Time Travelers

Additionally, WANA offers a host of classes, many of which I’ve taken. With instructors like Kristen Lamb, Marcy Kennedy and Lisa Hall-Wilson (just to name a few) I’m the proud owner of a blog (obviously, you’re reading it), an author Twitter account (which I actually know how to use now—thank you Marcy!) and a Facebook Author Page.

Through my fellow WANA’s I’ve found an editor, a cover artist, and someone to convert my manuscript to print and ebook formats (I figured out how to upload the files onto Amazon all by myself—YAY me!). And I found a tech guy who understands that I am a true technophobe and takes care of all my website maintenance—Jay Donovan (find him at www.techsurgeons.com).

So thank you, Kristen Lamb, you’re more than just our WANA Mama. You’re a mentor, a friend, and a true blessing to writers everywhere.

And thank you, Patricia Rickrode, for telling me about the Tribe.

To join WANA Tribe (membership is FREE!), CLICK HERE. Use #mywana to share your writing-related tweets.

For more about Kristen Lamb, and to read her informational motivational blog, CLICK HERE.

What about you? If you’re a self-published author, who has helped you in your journey to publication? Do you have any resources for others you’d like to share?

If you don’t write but love to read, was it surprising to learn about all the things indie authors have to manage in order to deliver their book to you?

10 comments on… “It Takes a Tribe (to Publish a Book)”

    • Me too, Suzanne. It’s been a fun (and scary) adventure. Couldn’t have done it without the support of WANA’a and other authors (like you)! 🙂

  1. Thanks for this great resource tip, Suzanne! I tried to sign up, but evidently their photo uploader isn’t working, and unless you upload a photo, their site won’t let you sign in. Hhhmmm – nothing on their help center on this either, and no way to contact a real person. How did you get in originally? Is there a trick?

    • Hi Yvonne. I will send you the email for the technical contact for their site. A GREAT guy (who does all my website hosting/maintenance) named Jay Donovan. He’ll get you squared away! I didn’t realize you need to have a photo when you set up your account. Glad you asked.

  2. Suzy-Q, while I really do find this post interesting and well, super informative, who knew?! Right? But, I am ever impressed with your writing. Is there anything you can’t write about and make funny, sassy and ubber smart? Hugs and kudos

    • Awww, thanks Pamela! The answer is no, because I learned how to blog from the WANA Mama herself. Of course, our mama might’ve contributed a little bit as well. 🙂


  3. Loucinda McGary


    Hey, I’m pretty much an extrovert (and have the Meyers-Briggs scores to prove it) and self-publishing was overwhelming for me too! But being traditionally published first gave me a tiny bit of a leg up. At least I realized what was in store, and I was determined to do it myself, which I did.

    I’m very happy to be an Indie Author and am thrilled that you’ve joined our ranks, Suzanne! BIG CONGRATS!

    • Cindy – I have to add you to the shortlist of people who have helped me (and continue to do so) get published. It is such a daunting (and exciting!) time and I thank God every day for writers/friends like you who are willing to share their knowledge. I hope some day I can pay it forward. Big hugs.

  4. I’ve been a WANA for 3 years now and I never would have published my first book without the tribe! I’m pretty sure Patricia was in our original group. So glad you found us!

    • Thanks, Jennifer! Me too. I continue to be amazed at how helpful writers are to one another. It’s truly remarkable. Thanks for stopping by!

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