Kristen Otte

Finding Love and Laughter through Story

From One Writer to Another – Some Thoughts on Self-Publishing


Today’s post is the third in a writing tips and advice series called From One Writer to Another. First, I tackled some general advice, then I told the truth about blogging, and I gave a few tips to write fiction faster. Today’s post tackles self-publishing.

About a year ago, I wrote a post called the Ins and Outs of Self-Publishing talking about the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing. I still agree with what I wrote then, but I wanted to add a few more notes about what I’ve learned about self-publishing after releasing another book.

First, self-publishing is pretty easy to do for someone with reasonable skills on a computer. The actual formatting for both my paperback and ebook versions of The Adventures of Zelda were relatively painless. The ebook versions maybe took 2 hours to format and polish with another couple hours for the paperback format for Createspace. (If my old version of Microsoft Word wasn’t so terrible, the Createspace format would be even quicker!)

All of this is to say it is true anybody can self-publish. Even if you can’t figure out the formatting, someone will do it for you for a nominal fee. And that my friends is what is amazing about self-publishing. There is a way to put your words out in a format for others to read. I love it. I am able to pass out books and spread the word about my writing through self-publishing. I am building a name for myself. It’s great.

But, the road to self-publishing success is long. Unless you are the lucky one of one million writers, your first book isn’t going to sell enough to pay your bills, even if it’s a great book. Success in the self-publishing arena takes dedication, patience, and consistency.

And so, if you want to be a successful self-published author, write a book, publish it, and then immediately start writing another. Realize your success will come down the road when you have several books out for readers. So keep writing and get a critical mass of books published. Focus on writing good books first.

When you have published three to five good books, it is time to start the serious marketing. Start looking for ways to advertise and reach new readers whether that’s paid advertising, blog interviews, book signings, etc. Then when you find new readers, they have another book to buy, and your name to pass on to other readers.

If you look at the majority of successful indie authors (Lindsay Buroker, Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, J.F. Penn, David Wood, Hugh Howey), they have several books out, usually in the double digits. When you have 5, 8, or 10 books out, it becomes much easier to market and spread the word about your writing.

So that’s my strategy, especially in the next nine months. I’m focusing hard on writing fiction, less on workshops, marketing, and even blogging (although I still will do it). The plan is to have at least two more fiction books out by next summer and then market my name. I believe in self-publishing and making a career of writing. But, I understand the time and commitment of doing it, and I’m willing to make the sacrifice.

What do you like about self-publishing?  What don’t you like about self-publishing?


7 thoughts on “From One Writer to Another – Some Thoughts on Self-Publishing

  1. Hi Kristen, that’s exactly my strategy as well. I released my first crime novel two months ago, and I’m working on having the second ready to go by March next year. The third will come out in December next year, and only then will I look at doing some serious marketing. Self publishing is a long term project, it’s a career, and I think you need to look at it like that in order to be successful. And you are totally right – readers who like your book are going to want more, if you don’t have more to offer your name will unfortunately be forgotten, regardless of how good your book might be.

    Thanks for a great post, I’m off to explore the rest of your blog!

  2. That’s a great idea regarding having several titles out there before you start seriously promoting. I never thought about it, but it makes sense.

    • It makes more sense, the more I think about it.

      Let’s say you do a promotion for a new book through bookbub. It spikes your sales for that book, but then what does the reader do if you have nothing else for him or her to buy? You hope they subscribe to your blog or newsletter, but let’s be honest, they probably won’t. So by the time your next book comes out in six months, the readers have forgotten about you (Even if they liked your book!).

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