Why I’m Self-Publishing


Before the days of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform and paperback distributors like Createspace, the way the self-publish your novel meant going to a small indie press, they would make a few dozen of your books and you would hand them out to friends, family, and maybe put an ad in the classifieds sections of newspapers.

Things have come a long way. Self-publishing has exploded in popularity due to easy access tools like Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, and many more. The industry has gained notoreity due to smash hit self-publishing successes like Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, Brenna Aubrey, and E.L James.

Although there are many indie author success stories and self-publishing being tagged with the often touted benefit of having full creative freedom over your work, these were not major reasons as to why I chose self-publishing. Below are some of the reasons why I chose the self-publishing route.

I’m not about that publishing business mindset

When you go the traditionally published route, they whip your novel into shape, promote it, do some release day publicity and then…it’s a matter of being hopeful. Hopeful that readers will buy the book, connect with it, and recommend it to others. What happens if you don’t bring in a desired amount of money? You’re cut. It’s harsh but it something that happens in the traditional publishing industry a lot. I don’t see too much of a problem with it because at the end of the day publishing companies are still businesses. They need/want to hit a certain amount and if you don’t bring in the desired amount of money, you’re cut.

I’m in a tricky, emerging and not yet fully understood genre market

New Adult fiction. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. St. Martin’s Press coined the term in 2009. A genre sometimes labeled as “older YA”, focusing on characters, age 18-25 leaving home, navigating college and career and coming into adulthood. Self-publishing had been driving the genre into popularity.  Despite the growing number of New Adult novels, traditional publishers as well as others still don’t know what to think of the genre. Stereotypes such as it being a genre for reckless behavior, lacking responsibilities and casual sex have circulated.

My novel doesn’t involve any of those things, it just focuses on a woman, recently graduated from college, trying to determine her next direction in life. It has themes of courage, hustle, tenacity, and creating one’s own legacy. Publishing companies probably wouldn’t understand my novel and where it would fit in the book market. I want to be the one to drive readers to my book and show them the struggles so many millennials face when coming into new found adulthood. I understand my brand and novel better than some publishing company would.

Money & Pricing

If I went the traditional publishing route, my book would probably sell for $9.99 for the e-book and $15.00 for the paperback. Even with a publishing company to back me and several marketing and promotional efforts, I still think not as many people would buy the book at these prices as opposed to the lower prices indie titles are at (usually $2.99 or $3.99)

I’m selling my book at a lower price to attract more readers and engage with more readers. Word of mouth and awareness for my novel is far more important than money.

You have a longer window of opportunity with self-publishing 

With traditional publishing, they release your book, do a few book signings, interviews, and after a few weeks, or months, if you can’t bring in a certain amount of money, they pull it from book stores and minimize publicity and marketing. Many traditional published authors have talked about how a lot of the book marketing falls on them after releasing and they get little help from the publishing company.

With self-publishing you months and years on end to reach readers. Maroon 5’s beloved first album, Songs About Jane, was a slow burning success and took over two years to start getting recognition. While this isn’t a self publishing story, it is a good example of how sometimes it takes a while for things to catch on and have the so called “hitting it big”. Self-publishing allows a much longer period of exposure than traditionally publishing books.


Even with the list of reasons why I’m self-publishing, there are some not so sunny sides to it. Many like to romanticize self-publishing. There are things to note when going the indie route. For one, self-publishing (depending on the way you look at it) can get expensive. Developmental editing, copyediting, cover design, formatting, copyrights, and more can add up. Self-publishers spend an average of $2,300 for each book they release. You can spend a lot lower or a lot higher, regardless of the price, you will have to spend a pretty (but not soo pretty) penny to yield a quality book that people would want to buy.

Even though you’re self-publishing, some tradition publishing rules still apply: put together a media kit, figure out target audience, get a good editor, get a good cover design and make a welcoming author website.

Self-publishing has it’s advantages, disadvantages and is a lot of work but I’m embracing it. I can’t wait till I have that feeling of holding my own book in my hands and being able to connect with readers.

Image by Alice Hampton

The Icky Nature of Self-Promotion as an Author

self promotion for authors

People like other people who are genuine. People like being told a story. People like to feel part of something and be wow’ed. You know what they don’t like? They don’t like it when they follow someone on Twitter and then instantly get an auto direct message telling them to visit the person’s website and/or buy their product. *clicks unfollow*

Self-promotion, marketing, it’s a tricky business. You want to get coverage for your book, you want more people to come to your site, but you’re just not sure how to break through the noise.

I kind of dislike the indie author community sometimes. Here’s why:  A lot of people don’t know the intricate and diverse nature of marketing and promotion and since they don’t, they start to result to spammy tactics in hopes of selling their book.

Here’s some things that have been irking me as well as other writers and readers:

1. Auto DM’s on Twitter

I’m on Twitter posting something or commenting on something and then start to interact with some other authors. They post an interesting tweet, link to a great article, talk with me and may follow me. So I follow back. Almost instantly I get a buzz notification to my phone. Direct Message. I open it.

Hey! Do you like #paranormal #romance with a twist of #suspense! My new #novel out now on Amazon! $2.99 or free with #kindleunlimited! 

I don’t buy the book, click unfollow, and go about my day. The direct message was impersonal and I barely even know you, so why the heck would I #buyyourbook? Auto-DM’s need to stop.

2. Giveaways usually don’t work

I see so many people do giveaways. To be honest, I’m not really sure on the effectiveness of them. Yeah you get a lot of exposure and people to sign up but many only sign up cause they want a free book. I get tired of constantly seeing authors tweet out multiple times a day saying Have you entered my giveaway for my #newbook about #scifi #romance?

3. Cool it with the #hashtags

Let me ask you something. Have you ever actually looked up a #romance #bookboost #thriller #indieauthor #whatever hashtag, looked at the tweet and bought the book? I haven’t and I don’t know anyone that has.

Look below at this image from a Buffer article detailing the scientific guide to hashtags. Two hashtags, that’s the most you should use. Incorporating the hashtags into the tweet (rather than having them at the end) is also better in boosting engagement. Lesson: Use hashtags sparingly and effectively. Narrow it down and use more niche hashtags. Rather than saying #writer, try putting #fantasywriter and so on. Use your best judgment.

self-promotion for indie authors


4. Spamming on Instagram

Don’t be that person that comments on someone’s photo saying #buymybook my new #contemporary #newadult #novel is now on sale for only $0.99 cents. 

5. Opt-in’s

Do you ever go to a site and before you can even read much, a pop-up comes up asking you to enter your name and email and subscribe. Pushy much? It doesn’t even let a reader see your site and find out more about you. It also is really hard for a reader to close out of when they are on mobile.

Aggresive opt-in’s: don’t do them. Have one on the sidebar or on the top of the page and leave it at that.


This post was inspired by a blog post I read on Delilah Dawson’s site discussing how self-promotion as an author doesn’t work (and a follow up post about some self-promotion things that do work).

A few things to add to Delilah’s posts. First and foremost, make it easy for people to discover who you are, what you write and how you are as a person. Spruce up your website’s about page, make it more than just a stale block of text. Put images of places you’ve travelled, fill out and have a consistent bio across all social media platforms. Know how to introduce yourself in a tweet, 70 words, 150 words, and so forth.

Interact with other writers and readers and ask about what they’re working on, how they’re doing, and so forth. Give, give, give. Once you do that, people will start to give back and be more open to helping promote you and buy your stuff.

Be a human, be personal, doing that is what leads to better engagement


Image credit



College Graduation Day: Part 1

43e39040 (1)Well, it’s here: the day I graduate college. A mixture of emotions are running through me right now. The most obvious one is happiness…or is it nervousness? I’m not too sure. The thing I know is that I’ve done a lot to get here. Story Time I grew up in an oh so small town of 8,100 people. As you can probably imagine, there wasn’t much to do there. I made it my mission to get out of the town and pursue great things in a (much) bigger city. So I set out to do just that. My high school had a partnership with a nearby community college that allowed high school juniors and seniors the ability to take college classes for FREE (all you had to pay for was the class textbooks). I thought, “This is my chance! I can start on college early, finish early, and get out into the real world sooner!”. At age 15, I signed up for my first set of college classes. The early college start agreement allowed students to take up to two classes per semester for free. I made sure to take advantage of this opportunity. I signed up for two college classes almost every semester of high school in addition to my AP high school classes. I had a goal of finishing college early and starting my career in the real world (who wouldn’t want to live their own live and have their own place, amiright?). Although I was happy to be pursuing my goal, there were challenges. You would expect the challenge to be a high schooler struggling with college level work. This was one of my challenges but not the biggest one. My biggest challenge at the time was that I was at a disconnect with people my age.  Several of my friends and other people I interacted with wanted to play video games, watch Netflix, go to Starbucks, and the ever popular “hanging out”. Hanging out was the big one. People would see me doing work and go: “Colin, you need to chill out and relax! Just hang out!” Ugh. I hated it when people said that. Don’t get me wrong, I hung out with people and had fun but that seemed to be all that they wanted to do. Every so often I would check myself to see what goals I was working towards and what I had accomplished so far. Several of the people around me in high school weren’t the same way. “Man, I’m just trying to graduate, lol” “I’m relaxing and living in the moment!” Some people even got frustrated with me because they said I was “too motivated”. Long story short (even though you read already, haha) is that I had goals and was looked at as some weird person who (because I didn’t “hang out and relax” most of the time) didn’t know how to have fun. To people reading this, I want you to know something: If you have a goal, protect it. Work towards it and don’t let people bring you down. Whether you’re starting a business, starting freelancing, doing a blog, learning a new skill, or just trying to plan the type of life you want to live, it’s going to take time and investment. Your gut and intuition will tell you if you’re doing the right thing. I don’t advocate for being a workaholic but also don’t give in to never ending requests to have a night out, hang out, chill, and so forth. Just as importantly, when life happens, figure out a way to move forward.

Last day of college!
With Paige Vaughn on my last day of college!

There were tons of obstacles that stood in the way of me graduating college early (money, remedial classes, family obligations, personal health, mode of transportation, scheduling, etc. etc. etc.). Regardless of the obstacles, I did it. I’m graduating college today with my 4 year Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Mass Communications-Public Relations in only 2.5 years…at the age of 20. I’m freaking proud to say that I did that. Good luck to everyone, whether you’re graduating college and planning your life or if your deciding on a new direction in your life. I wish the best. Part 2 will be filled with graduation images (right now I’m just sitting in the campus library…waiting two hours before check-in starts). I leave you with this J.K Rowling quote. Although she is talking about writing, it can apply to a lot of things. If you have a passion project, are learning new skills, or whatever, keep this in mind. To excelsior and silver linings! 4a8b505cd84f1d0bcd7db17f17b2a584

Carnival: Book Review

This summer is running through with great novels coming out. Several binge-reading, addicting books are coming out…and a lot of them are self-published ones. The novel I’m reviewing in this post is Carnival, a new adult romance novel chronicling the life ahead for the protagonist, 18-year-old Charlie.

Carnival by K.B. Nelson

Things are a bit bumpy for Charlie at the beginning of the book. She lives in a small town that doesn’t have much. College plans loom on the horizon. Despite the exciting prospect of going somewhere new, Charlie decides not to go to college. She isn’t exactly sure what she wants to do. She’s up for anything. This carefree attitude leads to her sleeping with a carnie stranger named Blue, at the town carnival.

Blue has been living his whole life on the carnival circuit. He likes the nature of it, traveling around and not staying in one place to long. Things hit a halt when he meets Charlie. For the first time in his life, he isn’t really sure exactly what he wants to do.

Charlie and Blue come together, two people living reckless lives, wondering what choices need to be made. They start to form a bond that most wouldn’t understand. They become an outlet for one another to trust.

Now here’s the thing that might trouble some people about this novel. It isn’t some sugar-coated cliche romance story that ends with a “happily ever after” line. It’s an honest look into two types of people that are still trying to figure themselves out. They experiment with things along the way. Swearing happens throughout the novel. Bad things are done.

The novel is commendable in it’s surprising twists and turns. This isn’t some light soap opera-ish reading. It gives depth to the otherwise ordinary lives that people seem like they’re living on the surface. Nelson is good in crafting the conflict that Charlie faces, wondering what to do with her life. The characterization is very distinct.

4/5 stars: Great, gritty read. Good start to a promising series by author K.B. Nelson. Carnival releases to book retailers July 7th.

To get a taste of carnival, read the first and second teasers that the author had released so far.