With so much of the stigma surrounding self-publishing stripped away and with even well-known authors proudly taking more control over their writing and careers, now it begs the question: “What is considered successful in self-publishing?” Ultimately, that would depend on the writer’s individual goals for their books and their longer-term writing careers. “To become the next Stephen King,” is quite a lofty goal, while just getting one’s title “out there” is far more attainable.
For Stokes McMillan, who opted to work with CreateSpace to publish his title, One Night of Madness, the work of writing the book and finding a route to publication was simply to make sure the story was told. When GoodeReader first interviewed McMillan in 2011, he was still adamant that he wrote this book to simply make sure people learned about the horrific events that took place in this case of white-on-black crime in Mississippi, but also to learn that in at least this one instance, people stepped up and did the right thing, ensuring that justice was served against the men involved.
While McMillan admits that sales of his book have been slow due in part to his busy schedule and lack of time to actively market the title, it has gained a lot of recognition from the industry. After winning the Independent Publishers Book Award for Best Regional Non-Fiction (South) when it was published, McMillan has now gone on to win the prestigious Mississippi Authors Award, an accolade he shares with prior winners like John Grisham for The Firm, Kathryn Stockett for The Help, and True Blood author Charlaine Harris for Club Dead; this award marks the first time it has been bestowed upon a self-published title.
Now, McMillan’s true-crime title has been optioned for a movie, due to the happy coincidence that he was invited to have a book signing at an area bed-and-breakfast by a couple who had read and loved the book. While staying there for his signing, he was discovered that The Help was being filmed in the same town at that time and was able to meet with the production coordinator of the film.
“I had to do a lot of research to learn the lingo of publishing and of options contracts, and things like that. I had to do much of this on my own. Luckily, one of my sons is a lawyer and he looked into this for me. In the interest of full disclosure,” McMillan pointed out in an interview with GoodeReader, “I ran the options contract through [various connections] to see what I needed to do. I do now have an agent, Wendy Scmhaltz and I’m happy where I am right now.”