What to Expect When Self-Publishing a Novel

I’m always tickled to see friends who are not professional fiction writers self-publish respectable first novels.

Several years ago, my friend, the extremely talented guitarist, Pete Kennedy, asked if he could send me his novel to read and write a back cover blurb. This is always a precarious situation. What happens if it’s awful? (And trust me, I’ve been sent some serious stinkers.) But his horror-thriller, Floodwood was really fun. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was happy to blurb it.

A few months ago, another friend, Caleb Kraft, announced his own horror-thriller, Dreaming in the Roots. I haven’t read Caleb’s book yet, but I look forward to it.

In this video, Caleb pulls the curtain back on the process of self-publishing, two months in. He runs through his publishing and promotion process and shows us how many copies he’s sold and how much money he’s actually made. It’s not a lot, but it’s at least beyond his modest expectations.

Years ago, I self-published my own book, a memoir and best-of collection, called Borg Like Me. My conclusions were similar to Caleb’s. The publishing part is very doable. The marketing is where you’ll likely stumble. You have to be relentless with promoting your book on social media (and beyond) and that can quickly become annoying to your social circles.

Even after getting an extraordinary review from Chris Anderson (former editor of Wired) and 16 positive reviews on Amazon, Caleb has still seen his sales fall away after the initial spikes.

I assume this video will help move a few more copies. I did my part. I just bought one.


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