Thursday, December 22, 2011

What I've Learned About Self-Publishing So Far

I was tempted to leave this blog blank.

Rim shot.

2011 is almost over, so it's time to reflect.

I've been self-publishing for almost a year, and I've tried a few things. Some of it has worked, some of hasn't.

Here's a recap:

Copy editing. Copy editing is probably the most important part of self- publishing and the industry has suffered because many have ignored this. I still see a few self-pubbers out there with buckets of talent, but who are publishing work that's riddled with editing mistakes. If Sophie had to choose between good book, good cover, good editing, or good formatting, she would probably pick good copy editing. A great book with bad editing is like a stuttering speaker, the ideas get lost.

Doing your own cover artwork. I've learned a lot and it's been a lot of fun, and most of my covers look pretty darn good, but if I had unlimited funds I would pay someone.  My financial situation has forced me to do it myself, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend to a newbie that he do the same. I would pay for it if I could. The ultimate would be to find a great artist and build a working relationship over a period of years. With that said, my next book will be a cover I made and it's pretty sweet. 

Getting press in the local paper. I can say for certain that this didn't affect my sales at all, but it was a lot of fun and it only took a day or so to put together a press kit. It also taught me how to do a press kit, which was useful when submitting books to reviewers. Because of the article, I was also contacted by a local writer, so it did connect me with the local writing community, which is always a good thing. Unfortunately it didn't sell books.

Getting reviews. LibraryThing is a great resource for this. I've had a few bloggers review my work and I also got a review from Midwest Reviews. I didn't expect to like this part of publishing, but it's been awesome. A good review will keep you warm those cold nights when sales are slow. For me it has affected sales in a positive way, but only slightly. The trick is to get reviewed by many blogs or by a blog that has hundreds or even thousands of followers. Sometimes they're backed up with requests, but I remain diligent in pursuing this course because I think it’s the brass ring. I haven't paid for a review. I don't have the money, and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.   

Blogging. You're here aren't you? Banging out a blog or two twice a month isn't too hard, but there's a lot of competition out there. A good blog can have a huge effect on sales, but for me it's been mostly about staying connected to the community, and I like the feeling of sticking it to the man.  

Social Networking: Librarything, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and Shelfari are great resources for writers. I've made friends, maybe an enemy or two, shared many a laugh and a few tears, and found that it does help sell books. Putting in the time is the hardest part, but it's worth it. Mostly I've found that we writers are "friending" and trying to sell to each other rather than to readers, but that's ok. After complimenting a fellow writer's book cover, she responded with buying and reading one of my books, gave it five stars, and wrote me a sweet review. She has since become a good friend. We'll be getting married this June—just kidding.

All and all self-publishing has been one of the great experiences of my life. But it has yet to pay the rent. During the time you've read this blog, Konrath has probably sold more books than I have the entire year, but I think it takes time to build a brand and a readership.  Only time will tell.

I'd love to hear from you. What things have worked for you or not worked?


  1. Great blog, Chris...laughed out loud a few times, and that is hard to do for me.

    I read your book, "The Traveler's Companion" and enjoyed it. The characters were interesting and held my attention right up to the end. A good character becomes someone you care about, and I cared about yours.

    The plot and sub-plots held together nicely, and, as a Si-Fi newby, I thought your novel was a good entrance into the field for me. Can't wait to read your next book.

    Full disclosure...I am CJC's step-mother; I really don't have to say anything nice about when I say I enjoyed the book...I really did!

  2. Great blog entry. I especially agree about the importance of copy editing. Can't tell you how many 1 star reviews I've seen for books due to bad/no editing.

    While we're on the subject, may I recommend my copy editor (who I found out about from Chris). Her name is Jessica Swain and you can read about her services on her web page at

    P.S. I also read "The Traveler's Companion" and enjoyed it. Best of all, no copy edit problems ;-).