31 things no one tells you about self-publishing

Though I have no regrets about self-publishing my debut novel, Dragontamer’s Daughters, there are several things I wish I had known beforehand.  It would have saved me time, effort, money, and irritation.


In June 2012, I released my book(s); in the weeks and months that followed, I quickly learned that:


  • Your family, friends, and acquaintances will be very happy and excited for you.
  • For a little while.  Not as long as you are.  Because you’ve been living this for months and years and it’s a huge deal for you.  For them, not as much (which is understandable, and nothing against them).
  • No one else cares.
  • However, people will ask, “Are you rich?” or “Are you going to quit your job?” or “Are you on the bestseller lists?”
  • If you say “no” to any of those questions, they go back to not caring.
  • Community newspapers are very interested in running stories on local, self-published authors.
  • Bigger newspapers are not.
  • Most radio stations aren’t, either.
  • Big, chain bookstores are not interested in carrying self-published books. 
  • Small, independent bookstores usually aren’t, either.
  • Barnes & Noble carries some local self-published books, but only if the book has gotten a lot of local media attention and/or sales.
  • It’s very hard to get media attention when big newspapers and radio stations aren’t interested.
  • It’s hard to get sales when stores won’t carry your books.  


…or self-published books, either.


  • Favorable book reviews can lead to sales.
  • Readers have to be asked (sometimes several times) to write reviews.
  • There are blogs that review books, but not all of them will accept self-published books.
  • Of those that do, not all will accept yours (wrong genre, too busy, not interested, etc.).
  • Of those that do accept your book, you might wait a looooooong time before your book is reviewed.
  • Magazines will usually not review self-published books.
  • Kirkus reviews books from publishers for free, but they’ll only review your self-published book if you pay them a lot
  • There are lots of other “services” out there to help part a self-published author from his cash.
  • Few of them help get more sales.
  • Some are out-right scams run by criminals.
  • Internet ads don’t work as well as one might hope.
  • Giveaways get people interested and reading, but reviews and sales from those take a while to happen.
  • Self-published writers are not taken seriously by a lot of people in the book biz.
  • They assume that if your book is self-published, it must suck.
  • You must suck, too. 
  • Your readers prove them wrong.
  • There are lots of other self-published authors out there, and a lot of them write really good books.
  • Meeting those readers and other authors at book signings and conferences is a blast.


I’m planning on self-publishing my next novel, Lost Dogs, and I’ll definitely apply these “lessons learned” to make it easier.  If you’re planning on self-publishing any time soon, I hope I’ve been some help.



This entry was posted in dragontamer's daughters, lost dogs, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 31 things no one tells you about self-publishing

  1. Lois Browne says:

    Thanks for this, Kenton.
    I’ve just published my first mystery and doing many of the self-promoting,time-sucking, fan-building things I’ve been advised to do. Your list is a big help in helping me decide which of those things to ignore.

  2. Administrator says:


    I’m glad I could be of help.

  3. C. Washburn says:

    Good list. I’d like to add: All the friends, relatives and acquaintances who, despite what you have done for them in the past, don’t think that it might be nice if they dropped the $2 – $5 (or whatever your e-book price is) to show their support.
    These are the same people who have invited you to a Tupperware type of ‘party’ where you have dropped $50 so that they could get ten percent.

    As far as stores and media: I get a perverse satisfaction out of boycotting places that have boycotted me.

    I don’t pay for promotion but I’m not trying to make a living from my books.

  4. Administrator says:

    Excellent point, C. Washburn!