Interview – Ali Isaac on Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

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Dear readers,

please welcome today’s interview guest Ali Isaac (website:!

This interview is part of Ali’s blog tour to celebrate the publication of the second book in the Conor Kelly trilogy: Conor Kelly and the Fenian King.

Ali, thank you very much for stopping by and talking about the very important topic of self-publishing vs traditional publishing.  🙂



You self published your first two books, Conor Kelly and The Four Treasures of Eirean, and Conor Kelly and The Fenian King. Why did you choose the self publishing route over traditional publishing?

I was impatient, plain and simple! I wanted people to start reading my book straight away. I did try querying agents and publishers, but it’s such a subjective process. I was proud of my new book-baby, and I got sick of all the rejections, even though I knew everyone, even the most famous authors, gets them. The independent publishing scene was just starting to take off at the time. I watched it with interest, and after reading an article about Amanda Hocking’s success, I decided I wanted to be a part of this brave new wave of Indie authors.

What is the hardest aspect of self publishing?

Well, you have to be able to fulfil so many different roles within the publishing process, that you begin to feel like a jack-of-all-trades and a master-of-none! It’s hard to find the time in the day to fit it all in without neglecting your other real roles, ie employee, mother, housekeeper, dog-walker, children’s taxi-service, you get the picture. So most of my writing and publishing work gets done in the morning while the kids are at school, and late in the evening when they are in bed. I am not at my most alert at these times, it has to be said! But writers are driven to do what they do, I don’t know why. It’s hard to be effective in such a wide variety of roles, too; we’re not all cut out to be great at editing, or marketing. Artistic, creative types are usually rubbish at the business end… all we want to do is carry on writing, not spend time formatting and tweeting.

Which aspect of self publishing do you enjoy most?

Of course I enjoy the creative side of what I do, the writing. It is pure escapism from real life for me. But there are other creative elements I have had to work on, too, such as designing book covers, and making trailers. I had never done anything like this before. It was quite daunting, but I surprised myself by really enjoying this side of my work. Of course I have a lot to learn still, but I’m heading in the right direction. There have been some unexpected pleasures, too. For example, I set up my blog to support my books, but in actual fact, my blog has taken on a life of its own, which I really love! And through blogging and the use of social media, I have come into contact with some really lovely people who have become friends, even though we’ve never met.

If a Big Six publisher came along tomorrow and offered you a contract, would you take it?

Ooooh, that’s a hard one! I’m sure I’d be very flattered and excited that a Big Six publisher found my books good enough to be willing to invest in me. I should probably jump at the chance, but I have worked so hard to achieve so much on my own… I’d hate to give that up and lose it. It would depend very much on the terms and conditions. If the offer was good enough to provide financial security for my family, I’d be mad to refuse! But the reality is, big publishers are not willing to take a risk on an unknown author in the current publishing climate. I may find myself with an editor, and an in house cover designer, but I’d lose all autonomy, and whilst it would be fabulous to see my books in print on the shelves in every book shop in Ireland, if the first print run failed to bring in enough dosh, my books would never again see the light of day. I’d still end up doing all my own publicity and marketing, and be handing over most of the income to the publisher for my troubles. On the other hand, having a smaller share of larger sales might be better than earning a larger share of not much at all, lol! At this stage, it’s not about money for me; it’s about my books being read.

So, what have you learned along the way on your self publishing journey, and what would you have done differently?

I learned that I did everything wrong with the first book! I hit the ‘publish’ button with absolutely no author platform to support me whatsoever, and the only people who bought my book were my friends and family! Now I have a blog with a clear message, a presence across social media, a mini blog tour, and a small following… my platform is petite but perfectly formed and growing. I’m in a much better place for the launch of the second book… did I tell you it’s available on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Apple from Monday 14th July, lol! With hindsight, I would have waited until all three books in the trilogy were ready at once, before publishing, rather than release them years apart. Indie success seems to come from keeping your head down and getting on with producing a catalogue of good quality writing, not by getting hung up on marketing or distracted by social media, and that’s just what I intend to do.

Thank you very much for joining me here today, Ali!


More about The Tir Na Nog Trilogy

Blurb for Book 1 – Conor Kelly and the Four Treasures of Eirean
Conor Kelly is not your average hero. Trapped inside a body he can’t control, Conor’s mind is as active and alert as that of any teenage boy. On the outside, however, he’s about as interactive as a lump of wood.

Then he meets Annalee. She claims to be a Sidhe Princess, some kind of fairy royalty, apparently. She offers to take him into the magical realm, where her people wield the power to help him. 

But is she just some child-snatching lunatic psychopath, or can she be trusted? On the other hand, what’s he got to lose? 

He soon discovers that Tir na Nog is not the benign, dreamy land of legend. Nor are its inhabitants, the Sidhe, the benevolent fairy folk of Irish mythology. To accept their help has a cost, but for someone who doesn’t value his life, death is a risk worth taking. 

With the blood of Lugh, God of Lightning, tingling in his veins, the boy in the wheelchair must dig deep, if he is to unlock the inherited powers dormant within him. Only he can defy disgraced Sidhe-King, Bres, who seeks to avenge himself on his brethren, and subject all mankind to his tyranny. 

In the race to recover the legendary lost talismans of power, the Four Treasures of Eirean, before Bres gets his hands on them and becomes invincible, Conor begins to wonder just whose side Annalee is on, as her chequered past comes to light. 

There are other obstacles, too; Ruairi, the Chieftain’s son, and worse, his own crippling self-doubt. Not that anything’s going to stop him. For the first time in his life, Conor finds he is not restricted by his physical limitations. Still, it’s not going to be easy. 

Nothing worth fighting for ever is. 
Book One of The Tir na Nog Trilogy begins an epic fantasy adventure which takes us back in time to the shadowy past of Ireland’s long lost legend, where fairy kings and Gods walk amongst mortals, and where feats of magic, swordsmanship and courage were customary.

Blurb for Book 2 – Conor Kelly and the Fenian King
It’s happened again. Somehow, Sidhe-Princess Annalee has embroiled Conor in another hopeless quest on behalf of her people, Ireland’s fairy folk, the Sidhe. Last time, he very nearly got himself killed. This time, things look even worse. 

For a start, Annalee can’t help him. She’s been imprisoned, accused of murdering her own father. The people of the magical realm are at war amongst themselves, whilst Tir na Nog crumbles into the sea and disaster strikes.

The sacred sisterhood of the Morrigan has arisen, wreaking havoc and destruction which threatens not only the future of the magical realm, but the world of mortals too. The Morrigan must be stopped, but how? The heroes of old are all long gone. 

Conor Kelly is just a boy in a wheelchair, but with the help of feisty side-kick Ciara, his drop-out cousin, Conor sets out in search of the mysterious Fenian King, prophecied of old to awake from his slumber beneath the green hills of Ireland, and ride to the aid of his people in their hour of greatest need. 

Along the way, Conor unearths a personal secret which undermines all he has believed about his own identity, throwing him deep into confusion. Floundering in the darkness of uncertainty and fear, the mortal boy must dig deep if he is to overcome his demons and save his friends. 

However, the search for the Fenian King is anything but easy. Known by the name of Fionn mac Cumhall, his exploits as leader of legendary war-band, the Fianna, are still told with awe today. 

So just where do you start your search for Ireland’s greatest hero? Well, first you google it, of course. Then you ask the cat…

Book Two of The Tir na Nog Trilogy continues this epic fantasy adventure which takes us back in time to the shadowy past of Ireland’s long lost legend, where fairy kings and Gods walk amongst mortals, and where feats of magic, swordsmanship and courage were customary.



30 thoughts on “Interview – Ali Isaac on Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

  1. Sounds like an interesting book. I enjoyed hearing about your journey to get published. We all make mistakes the first time around. I’m glad you’re doing better now. 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed reading about Ali Isaac’s process in the self-publishing route. I think she speaks for so many of us who are good at writing but not so good in the marketing side of writing. This was both an informative and inspiring post, Karen.

  3. Thank you Karen and Ali. I went the the self publishing route for the same reasons and I learned from my first go round. Stay inspired!

  4. Pingback: It’s Day Three of the Conor Kelly and The Fenian King Mini Blog Tour | My Train of Thoughts On… | aliisaacstoryteller

  5. Thank you for featuring me on your blog… again!!! We are so lucky to live in this digital age where we all get the same chances. The GOOD thing about self publishing is that anyone can be an author. The BAD thing about self publishing is that anyone can be an author lol!

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