Molting like a Cicada (or Self-Publishing)

“Courage is the hallmark of a warrior.”


I remember visiting Taiwan and hearing a repetitive whirring from the tree above me. It was the song of a cicada. Cicadas are known as “tree crickets” and live on branches. While their cousin crickets on the ground produce music by rubbing their wings, cicadas actually have built-in noisemakers (tymbals) that can be manipulated by using their muscles. In Chinese culture, cicadas are a symbol of immortality (because of their long lifespan) and rebirth (from their molting practices).

Like the butterfly, cicadas transform. They climb out of their old molted shells and spread forth their wings. What does molting have to do with warriors, like in the above quote? There is a battle tactic called “shedding off the golden cicada shell.” It’s part of the “36 Stratagems” written by General Wang in The Book of Qi. The technique he refers to involves masking yourself and becoming inconspicuous in order to avoid being attacked.

Interestingly enough, the physical shells of cicadas are actually highly valuable in Chinese medicine. Moltings offer a lot of chitin, protein, and amino acid. They’re supposed to have sweet and cold properties. The healing benefits of the shells include reducing fevers, soothing itches, and relieving spasms.

For me, I’m also molting. I’m shedding the old and taking on the new, just in time for the New Year. I’m also exhibiting the hallmark of a warrior by venturing into self-publishing. I recently got offered a publishing contract for my cozy mystery novel but have since decided to self-publish. I’m wading into unknown waters, like my friend Evelyne Holingue (please check out her new middle-grade novel).

My next step is a foundational piece: editing. I’ve already reworked my story using online and in-person critique groups, along with beta readers. Now, though, I’m getting professional help by soliciting a few editors for sample edits on my manuscript. These folks have done work on cozy mysteries before and came either recommended by acquaintances or through the acknowledgments pages of books I liked.

Is this all crazy or foolish? Possibly. But I invite you to follow me as I continue on my new publishing journey this year.

Foodie Friday: Tofu Fah
Foodie Friday: Tofu Toast


  1. Congratulations on deciding to try a new venture! What a great way to start a new year. I wish you the best and can’t wait to read your new book!

  2. Interesting facts, Jennifer! Love learning new things. Who knew the wings of Cicada had medicinal properties. I wish you well on your self-pub endeavors.

  3. I wish you well. I haven’t been brave enough to self-publish yet–so much work to take on yourself–but I know many authors who have wouldn’t do it any other way. The control it offers must be a great feeling. Good luck!

  4. Bravo, Jennifer! It will be a journey you won’t forget. Thank you for all the facts about the cicadas. I knew so little about them! Thanks also for the link to my blog. Your new novel sounds intriguing and different, so I will look forward to it, and in between will follow your adventure toward publication. Again, congrats for making the jump.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      I know I’ll be learning a lot on this journey. It’s good to follow other authors who’ve paved the way–thanks!

  5. Good luck Jennifer! Thank you for sharing your publishing journey with us. I admire your determination and hope all goes well. What made you decide to go the self-publishing route? Is this the cozy mystery I read a bit of? I liked the little bit I read and can’t wait to see it in print!

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      Thanks, Julia! This is the cozy mystery that you read a part of :) Even though I got an offer through a small press, I thought I wanted to try self-publishing and learn more about the process.

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