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Canadian author, Lorna J. Carleton.

Located in the store entrance of the Coles at the Northgate Mall sits a full table of dragon-themed decorations. The exquisite display presented upon shoppers draws their attention. Those who come up can find a blue and white female dragon rider statuette, a brown geode dragon egg, a pewter and amethyst wand, and a set of dragon bookends. Blue, green and clear gems and jewels, medallions, and necklaces adorn the table top. However, these items are not for sale. They are merely for show to bring attention to the stack of books sitting in one of the corners. And under the table is a stuffed toy dragon to play with for the kids who say hi to the woman standing behind the table. That woman is Canadian author, Lorna J. Carleton.

Hailing from British Columbia, Carleton has spent the last two months promoting her first published novel, The Dragons of Nibiru, across Canada. During her visit to Regina on March 3rd, she was not only signing her books but also talking about her journey as an author and self-publisher.

"I always wanted to write," Carleton says. "But I was told I sucked, and I agreed with the people telling me that. So I stopped writing."

However, later she started writing again. In 2014, she put together a book of poetry which she never released to anyone. "It was more like a political statement."

After a couple of other tries writing, she wrote The Dragons of Nibiru. It was a novel she wanted to publish. She reached out to a publishing agency to promote it. "I tried to send it to a publisher," Carleton says.

Hoping that they would stay true to their word, she was expecting them to take care of the book's promotion. They were to launch a website and other similar logistics. "I tried that route," Carleton says. "And after a year I still didn't have anything. I paid for that, and they said "We won't do that until your book is available.""

Frustrated with the publishing agency, she explains that she's not the only one to go through this type of situation. "After you talk to other people who've tried it, spent their money, they're realizing that it's like a vanity press."

"All this has been a trial and error."

Therefore, she decided to publish her book on her own. "I purchased a program that you can learn how to typeset," Carleton says. "And a friend of mine who's actually an editor, I paid him to learn how to use the program. He typeset it into a PDF, and we printed the book".

"I'm my own publisher now."

"A business point of view is to come up with a pilot project to help authors," Carleton says. This project pilot is her artisan publishing company, Go Free Directory. "I'm trying to figure out how I can do this to help other authors." As well as any other artists may they be writers, sculptors, musicians or jewelers. Because, as she emotionally explains, "they are who create the future ... The people who are trying to make the planet a better place".

Although Carleton has had quite a journey to successfully publish her first novel, John Agnew, publisher at Coteau Books in Regina agrees that it is very competitive to get a publishing contract with an agency. "I think there are more manuscripts out there. And as a result, more and more people are turning to self-publishing because they are finding it difficult to get into the publisher's."

He explains that Coteau Books receives a dozen of manuscripts each week. "They take time to read and assess. It can take a year for us to get back to [someone] because we are buried in manuscripts."

And when asked about the process of promoting a book at Coteau Books, Agnew says, "once we've committed to the book, we start promoting it."

That said, he believes that both publishing avenues, going to a publisher or self-publishing, have their rewards.

"Some people who self-publish and are very aggressive and confident in sales and marketing make a ton of money. And particularly, if they do it through online sale. So there's something to be said for both sides," Agnew says. "My own view is that if you are a natural born entrepreneur with boundless energy and time, then, go for [it] as a self-publisher. If you want the support of the infrastructure of the Canadian book industry, go try, and find a publisher."

It's clear from Carleton's story that self-publishing is not an easy feat. But for the Canadian author, her drive is fueled by her passion for helping others. "I keep doing what I'm doing. I'm going to do well because I have hope."

The first novel of a seven-part series, The Dragons of Nibiru, is available online at lornajcarleton.com. The second novel, The Dragons of Earth, will be available at the end of March 2018 and the third in August 2018.