Should You Self-Publish?


For most authors, the decision of whether to self-publish or search for a traditional publisher is a tough one. I wrestled with this decision (it fought like a crocodile) in the years leading up to 2008. Even after self-publishing multiple books in 2008 (I had one completely written and the material for several others already well-prepared), I continued to wrestle the crocodile for another seven months. Then sales of two of my books erupted and later the next summer I launched a series that became popular enough that I no longer questioned my decision.

That’s what you hope for, when you’re wondering which route to take. You’re hoping that a day will come when you no longer look back over your shoulder, wondering about the other road (that road you didn’t take is such a clichéd road, it really isn’t worth any anguish).

Not an Easy Way Out

Self-publishing isn’t the easy way out. It might seem that way at first:

You don’t have to find a publisher or an agent, you don’t need to write query letters, you don’t need to put a book proposal together, you don’t need to buy Writer’s Market, you don’t need to meet the right people, you don’t need to write sample chapters for a book that might never get published, you don’t need to make marketing commitments, and you don’t need to wait years hoping to get lucky.

You also won’t have to deal with a pile of rejection letters:

Self-publishing is a sure thing, baby! (Well, at least as far as getting published is concerned; whether or not you’ll sell a copy to anyone other than your grandma, that’s another question.)

But self-publishing is still a lot of work. You’re the writer (so you still need to learn the craft), you’re the editor (which means a great deal more work once the book is written), you’re the formatter (which means learning a new art and how to use the software to pull it off), you’re the illustrator (can you draw, too?), you are your own marketing department (put Executive on your name badge), and you are your only public relations specialist (if you fail at this job, you can kill all your hard work faster than your favorite speedy cliché).

That’s a lot of work for someone who just wants to write. It might just be easier to find an agent or publisher after all.

And you don’t really escape the pain of rejection… because anybody can post a critical review right in plain sight where the whole world can see it (stock up on thread to mend your bleeding heart).

You’re not Really Alone

It really isn’t self-publishing. It’s indie publishing.

You only do it all yourself if you choose to do so:

  • There is an abundance of free information available to help authors learn writing skills, editing skills, cover design skills, marketing skills, and publishing skills.
  • The CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing community forums have many knowledgeable participants to help out if you have a question.
  • You have the option of joining a writing group or organizing a focus group from within your target audience to help provide valuable feedback.
  • You can recruit extra pairs of eyes to help you proofread.
  • Services are available for editing, formatting, or cover design if you need to hire help. You may find affordable service at high quality if you do your homework well.
  • What you lack in financial resources you can make up for in time (it’s money, right?). You can choose to take your time to get it right.
  • You can find support from others, such as this wonderful WordPress community.

Changing Tides

It wasn’t long ago that self-publishing equated to hundreds of books piled in an author’s garage (though somehow I still have hundreds in my home office…).

For most authors, it was either traditional publishing, vanity publishing, or no publishing (and too often, the latter was the case).

Print-on-demand services like CreateSpace and e-readers like Kindle have revolutionized the publishing industry. Now anyone can  publish (and, believe it or not, there are even some authors who have their dogs publish, so if you hear this expression, there is a little truth to it—a photo book about dogs, surely; why shouldn’t it be written by, narrated by, and published by the dog?).

And hundreds of thousands of indie authors are publishing.

Self-publishing was ripe when it first came out. Many readers weren’t aware of the new concept in the early years. There were fewer authors and books, too. E-readers were new and quite appealing. The market was growing rapidly.

Then word started to spread about books with editing, formatting, and content problems. Many customers discovered these problems firsthand. Some review abuse from authors didn’t help the image (fortunately, Amazon has made great strides toward limiting this in the past couple of years). There were also some people (perhaps the extremists we will not label as authors) who had heard of amazing success stories, who were hoping to make a quick fortune with little effort (you can easily spot them because they have deep scars where they continue to scratch their heads).

Yet the number of indie authors and indie books continued to grow, and support for them grew with it. Take tens of thousands of authors, add their families, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances, and you can see that there is ample support for the concept of self-publishing. Many indie authors read indie books; many more people who know indie authors read indie books (and not just by authors they know). It’s not uncommon to search Amazon for “CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform” to try to find a good self-published book to read.

Amazon and traditional publishers both did indie authors some huge favors. Amazon’s role is obvious: Thank Amazon for the beautiful red carpet. Every big traditional publisher must yearn badly for a time machine. How has indie authorship come to take so much of the current market share? Would the publishers change their e-book pricing strategies if they could dial the calendar back several years? Would they focus more of their efforts on the advantages of digital books? Would they try to get to market faster? Would they encourage their authors to utilize more marketing strategies that top indies have come to thrive on? You might sooner solve the Tootsie Roll riddle…

Traditional publishers have responded to the effects of print-on-demand and e-books. But they also have the disadvantages of being big business: especially, s.l.o.w. response time. Things continue to change, though. They are looking ahead, they have a great deal of publishing experience, and they have many resources. They haven’t disappeared; they just haven’t dominated the market like they once did. Definitely, don’t count them out.

Several bookstores, especially chains, might wish they could turn back the clock, too. So many indie books selling each year. Some bookstores have taken advantage of this opportunity; some have avoided it at all cost. It may have been silly for them to blindly stock several copies of every indie book. But there were some good opportunities to get some of this traffic.

The image of indie publishing seems to be rebounding. Customers have realized that they can filter out what’s good to read by careful study of the product page and Look Inside. Excellent content is good to read regardless of how it is published. Some indie books have exceptional covers, wonderful editing and formatting, and great stories, too. Indie authors have the freedom to provide content that traditional publishers would never have published in the past. An indie author can choose to write to a smaller audience; that smaller audience may appreciate this. Many indie authors provide personal experiences with their marketing, which helps to attract new readers. The best indie books are competing with the best traditionally published books.

Successful indie authors are opening doors for everyone else. Some are even turning down lucrative offers from traditional publishers (check out this article, recently referred to from the CreateSpace community forum). If you do sign with a traditional publisher, you risk having your digital or other rights tied up for a very long time (if you can get a little success, by that point in time you might do much better than the advance offered up front).

Success Still Isn’t Easy

Amazon and other companies are giving indie authors the opportunity to publish. But everyone won’t be striking gold. You might not even strike dirt.

There are millions of books available for sale. Only the top 200,000 or so sold one copy in the past day. Most books don’t even sell a copy per day, on average.

You put so much time into writing, editing, formatting, cover design, and marketing (what you don’t do yourself, you still put time and money into arranging). You invest months, perhaps years of hard work, and you may also invest good money along with it. But sales aren’t guaranteed.

Sales are still hard to come by.

Traditional publishers and agents do have benefits to offer (you might also wonder if they are receiving fewer submission: are your chances better now?). They may be able to help with editing and formatting. They might help a little in the way of marketing, like getting your foot in the door for television or radio interviews, hooking you up with an effective publicist, sending out advance review copies, and listing your title in their catalogs. You’ll probably still be expected to market. You might receive an advance, though it may be $5,000 or less, not the big number you’ve always dreamed about. You have better prospects for getting your book stocked in a chain bookstore (then you get to learn the reality of returnability and big discounts).

No matter how you publish, the key to success is hard work combined with marketable content.

In the end, to the customer it’s the quality of the book that you’ve produced that really matters, not how you got it published.

Option Three

It isn’t indie publishing versus traditional publishing. Both have merit, not just to authors, but to readers, too.

Some authors are choosing both.

Traditional publishers can only produce books so quickly. Some authors write books faster than they can be published. Other authors write a few books that interest big publishers, but several other books that may not. One way to publish all their books is to traditionally publish some and self-publish the rest (sometimes, with a pseudonym). More and more traditional authors are exploring self-publishing.

On the other side, many authors are starting out with self-publishing, hoping to attract traditional publishers.

This can work two ways. If you self-publish a book that scarcely sells, it will be hard to convince a publisher to take up your book. But if you grow a large following and gain frequent sales and many reviews, a publisher may be interested in publishing a subsequent book (or even republishing the same book). They’ll want to be impressed with your success and your marketing platform, and it won’t be easy, but the potential is there.

Yet if you can build a large following and earn frequent sales on your own, why would you want to sign a contract with a publisher, tie up your rights, and take a big cut in royalties (even though a large sum up front would be enticing)? If you can be self-made, why give that up? It’s easy to fantasize about receiving a lucrative offer and turning it down, but if you wind up wearing these shoes, it might not turn out to be so easy. It would sure be a nice problem to have, though, wouldn’t it?

Other authors wonder if the grass may be greener on the other side. Some authors try self-publishing, then try to find an agent or publisher when that doesn’t pan out. Some authors land a contract with a traditional publisher, but don’t make what they were expecting, and switch to self-publishing.


There are a lot of opinions out there on whether self-publishing or traditional publishing is better.

Personally, I think it’s the wrong question to ask.

What’s better for you may not be the same as what’s better for someone else. Other people’s lists of advantages and disadvantages can help you collect ideas for your own list, but your list of pros and cons will be unique.

I believe both options can be good, and so is “option three” (i.e. both).

Nothing beats the feeling of holding your book in your hands, knowing that you gave it your best, believing it to be done professionally. That’s what you should strive for. Whether you do this yourself, with help as an indie author, or via a traditional publisher or agent, the end result is still the same—you shared your passion with readers.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

The Other Side of Taking Your Time with Your Book

Fast SlowI’ve been a recent advocate of taking your time with your book: showing patience, getting help as needed, perfecting your work, doing pre-marketing, etc.

Let me balance this by referencing an article in the Wall Street Journal regarding self-publishing at a fast pace:

I have some trepidation that authors might read this article, especially given where it was published, and interpret that to mean that writing and publishing as quickly as possible is a successful business model.

No matter how you publish, it will take a special brand of content and packaging to attract a large readership, and discoverability is only becoming more challenging each year.

If the book isn’t attracting readers, having thirty such books probably won’t help.

But if you have a special book that’s just a magnet for readers, those readers will crave more, and the faster they can get it, the better.

The getting-more-books-out-there-quickly plan may have some merit.

Let me emphasize that there is more to it than just a large number of books; content is especially important, and so are packaging and discoverability.

I’ve mentioned previously the power of a backlist: Most authors who put out many titles in a few years already had much of the work done before publishing.

I benefited from a backlist, a coauthor, and publishing many workbooks that don’t compare to writing a novel. I know that it can help to have several books out. The more marketable books, the better. Having a large number of books that aren’t too marketable won’t help much.

What’s right for you? That’s the million-dollar question you’ll have to figure out. 🙂

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Building Credibility as an Author

Trust 2

Have you heard stories about plagiarism, authors behaving badly, review abuse, major formatting problems, or books with spurious typos?

If such stories are circulating, readers may be aware of them, too.

Would those readers grant you credibility simply because your name is in the author field? Or would credibility be something that you must earn?

Let’s imagine that we’re shopping for a book and consider some ways that we might assess an author’s credibility.

Packaging Display

We see the cover, blurb, and Look Inside on the book’s product page.

What does the cover say about the author?

  • Is an appealing cover a sign of an author who likes to do everything right? Does it show that the author believes in the book? Is it a symbol of professionalism?
  • If the cover seems to lack effort, is it a sign that the book is similarly lacking effort?

The answers to these questions are not necessarily, “Yes.” For example, the author might believe the adage that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or might have The Catcher in the Rye in mind as inspiration.

However, the shopper doesn’t know the author’s true motivation; the shopper only sees the result. Cover appeal does make an impression.

What can we learn about the author from reading the blurb and Look Inside?

  • Are typos, formatting issues, or writing mistakes a sign that the author didn’t take the work seriously? If these short writing samples have problems, how does that bode for hundreds of pages?

There may be a reason for it. For example, the author might be a gifted storyteller who just doesn’t have the gift of grammar. Regardless of the reason, doesn’t this impact the author’s credibility?


I read a thought-provoking article1 by former publicist Sandra Beckwith last night, which inspired this point.

If the author receives help from an editor or a cover designer, does this lend credibility to the book?

  • Does the presence of an editor suggest higher quality?
  • Do other contributors show that the author is willing to work with others, recognizes his or her limitations, and is serious about perfecting the book?
  • When the author does everything alone, does this suggest that there may be some aspects that are lacking, that the book could be better?

These are all tough questions. I’m not suggesting that the correct answer to each question is necessarily, “Yes.” What I’m wondering is how such things may impact readers.

Public Relations

What can we learn from how an author handles criticism?

  • Does an author lose credibility when he or she comments on a review? I’ve heard from several reviewers who say that they strongly dislike it when an author invades this space. So even if you comment tactfully, this may lose credibility with some shoppers.
  • Let’s go a step further. Suppose that the author comments, sounding defensive. Does this make the author seem needy, immature, or unprofessional?
  • What if you check out an author’s blog, and the author is lashing out at a reviewer there? Although the blog is the author’s own site, it is in the public eye. How does this look to a prospective reader?

The toughest public relations challenge may be cyber-bullying, which poses a serious threat to authors, both indie and traditional. Ionia Martin, an avid book reviewer who often provides helpful advice for authors, suggested in a recent article2 that authors who are unfortunate enough to encounter this should deal with it using intelligence, honesty, and tact.

Perhaps intelligence, honesty, and tact, would go a long way toward building credibility in all of an author’s public relations.

Author Photo

Assuming you’re looking for a book you’d like to read and not for an author you’d like to date, does the author photo matter?

  • Do you need to look like an author in order to be a great writer? Or do you just need to look professional?
  • Or is it the quality of the photo that matters, not so much how the author looks? Do things like lighting, red-eye, blurriness, and pixilation impact the author’s credibility?
  • Does a touch of personality appeal to you? Does too much personality put you off?

These questions might be worth considering, even if they aren’t easy to answer.

Author Biography

What do you look for in an author’s biography?

  • For nonfiction, do you want to see the author’s relevant qualification?
  • For fiction, does it matter to you if the author has a writing degree? Should the author have taken a writing class? Should the author belong to a writing group? Do you want some sign that the author has received feedback or help from others?
  • Perhaps, for fiction, you don’t want to see a resume, but want to learn something about the writer’s relevant life experience or personality.

Not all of these questions may be straightforward. For example, some people have strong opinions about writing classes. I don’t want to open that can of worms, but would rather simply state that opinions on this differ. My concern here is just whether or not this impacts an author’s credibility with some prospective readers.

We probably have different expectations for what should be in a biography, especially for fiction. An effective biography will lend the author credibility with the target audience.

Did you know that CreateSpace has free marketing resources? One of these includes tips for writing an author biography.3


When the author interacts with the target audience, both online and in person, the author has a chance to build credibility with prospective readers, but the author also has the opportunity to detract from it.

What do you look for when you meet an author?

  • Do you like to see signs of professionalism? Suppose you visit an author’s blog. Your first impression could be, “Wow, this author really knows what she is doing,” or it could be, “Umm, uh, well…”
  • If the author’s writing samples in a casual setting appeal to you, does that help to create interest in the author’s book? If there are frequent writing mistakes, is that a red flag?
  • Does the author’s character impact your buying decision? How about the author’s personality? Or the author’s writing persona? After all, you’re going to read the book, not go on a date with the author.
  • Do you like to see a few signs of the author’s humanity? Do you want to learn more about the author as a person?






I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Don’t Just Throw Your Book Out There (Why not?)

Cross Your Fingers

The Temptation

Joe’s muse inspired him with a great idea for a book. Thus, Joe sat down at his computer for several months, typing up his story. Now he’s ready to publish it.

Sure, he’d love to have a fantastic cover, excellent editing, and effective marketing. However, Joe is self-publishing, has no budget, doesn’t have artistic or photography skills, and doesn’t know anything about marketing.

Like many authors, Joe doesn’t feel a need to perfect these things. For one, he doesn’t see how he can afford to hire anyone. For another, he has no idea if his book would sell; he’d loathe to waste months more time and money he doesn’t have only to see a trickle of sales.

It occurs to Joe that he could publish the book as it is now and the cover, editing, and marketing can wait until later. If the book sells well, then he can afford these things, and then he won’t even need the marketing; and if the book doesn’t sell, he will be glad he didn’t waste more time and money.

Putting the book out there will give Joe some initial feedback, help him build a fan base, allow him to test the market, and provide some extra income that he can really use.

Everything seems to suggest that Joe should publish as soon as possible. This will also relieve a great deal of stress that had built up while he was writing the book, and which became nearly intolerable when he started to learn the publishing ropes.

The Problem

There are a few important points that Joe hasn’t considered (or perhaps he has considered them, but either ignored them or convinced himself that they don’t matter):

  • Sales rank. It’s really challenging to overcome a slow start. The history of no sales factors strongly into the sales rank (which weighs sales from the past day, week, and month). Sales rank quickly climbs to the millions with no sales, then when the book does sell, it rises quickly. In contrast, when a book sells frequently with its launch, its sales rank climbs much more slowly when it doesn’t sell. It’s much easier to keep sales consistent when they start out well than it is to generate sells after a very slow start.
  • Reviews. If the book needs significant editing, formatting, storyline, character development, or writing help, this may be reflected in critical reviews. You can revise the book later, but any negative reviews are there to stay. With only a few reviews, if any are bad, it can hurt the book’s prospects for sales, which makes it challenging to get new reviews to offset the bad one. Perfecting the book before publishing and marketing it effectively can inspire helpful early reviews.
  • Discovery. There are millions of books out there. People need to discover your book before they can buy it. Early sales, customers also bought lists, reviews, and bestseller lists improve a book’s exposure. Perfecting the content and pre-marketing can greatly help with this.
  • New release. When a book first appears on Amazon, customers are more likely to discover it by using the Last 30 Days or Last 90 Days filters. If your book is in its best condition and effectively marketed prior to publishing, you can take full advantage of this. If instead you wait until you realize that the book isn’t selling, you’ve missed this golden opportunity.
  • Image. You only get one chance to make a first impression. If people check out new releases in your genre and discover your book only to think, “Ugh,” they probably won’t click on it months down the line after it’s been revamped, and they may have already told their friends not to bother with your book. It’s important, yet challenging, to successfully brand the image of the book and author. Strive to brand a positive, professional image from the beginning.
  • Satisfaction. Customers are investing time, and possibly money, to read your book. With this investment comes a set of expectations. Whether your book merits reading, recommendations, or criticism largely depends on how well the experience satisfies customers. A quality book with good packaging improves the chances that the book will be read and that some readers will recommend it to others. A book with problems discourages sales and encourages a disproportionate number of critical reviews.

To make matters worse, Joe is aware of a few famous authors who improved their covers or editing later, and eventually found success. Unfortunately, Joe isn’t thinking of the millions of books that struggled to begin with and never overcame this.

It’s really challenging to succeed as an author when you put your best foot forward in the beginning. Making it even tougher on yourself isn’t the best plan.

Whether you just throw the book out there or fight to get it ready for publication can significantly impact the fate of your book.

The Solution

Authors who don’t have money do have time. We all know that time is money. There is also an abundance of free resources to help authors publish and market their books, along with a community of authors who like to help others.

For those who do have a little money, there are many low-cost services to explore.

It’s not the lack of resources or help that’s the problem, nor the expense. The problem is the choice to get the book out there when it’s not quite ready to succeed.

(I’m not talking about the perfectionist whose book is already extremely well-edited and has a great cover, or who keeps bouncing back and forth between ideas because none of them seem good enough. I’m talking about the majority who know deep down that they really need help with cover design, editing, or marketing, but can’t figure out what to do about it.)

Here are some things you can do to give your book its best chance of success:

  • Get the content publishing-ready. Give customers a quality product that they will enjoy, not something they will have to settle for; some customers won’t settle. You can put extra time into editing and formatting. You can find affordable ways to get many other eyes to read your book.
  • Find a way to get a cover that will attract the target audience. It needs to be visually appealing, but that’s not sufficient. It must signify your precise subgenre and content. This has a significant impact on whether or not people who see your thumbnail will check out your product page or pass. If your target audience favors your thumbnail among others in your subgenre, you have a distinct advantage.
  • Research and master the art of preparing a concise blurb that will inspire interest from your specific target audience. The cover, blurb, and Look Inside are your only salesmen at the point-of-sale. Make these inspire sales, not deter them. Study the product pages of top-selling books in your genre, especially those that are selling well without the benefit of the publisher’s or author’s name.
  • Seek feedback on your cover, blurb, title, Look Inside, and book before you publish. At a minimum, you should recruit friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, and your online followers and connections. Ideally, you would also get feedback from your specific target audience. This not only helps you perfect your book, it helps you create buzz, too.
  • Setup a blog and social media pages several months before you publish. For one, you’ll have content already there when fans check out the websites listed on your About the Author page. For another, you’ll already have a following when you launch your book. A fraction of your followers will show support with a few reblogs or retweets, some likes, a couple of sales, and maybe even a couple of reviews. You’ll also have valuable connections that may come in handy for author interviews, blog reviews, advice, support, and inspiration (since you’ll see firsthand what others are doing). When readers check out your newly published book, they’ll see that you’ve already established yourself.
  • Generate buzz for your book weeks before its release date. Get people talking about your book online and in person. Feedback and your online following can help with this. Find bloggers and websites with traffic from your specific target audience where you might get reviews, interviews, or publish an article; allow ample time for consideration. Search for Facebook author groups in your genre. Explore free and low-cost advertising options for a short-term promotional sale and learn how to do this effectively. Interact with people in your target audience and let your passion show.
  • Find your target audience, interact online and in person, and make a favorable impression. Let them discover that you’re an author. Seek readings, signings, seminars, conferences, media exposure, websites where they hang out, and other ways to engage your target audience. Personal interactions are an asset to the indie author, who has the time and passion to offer this personal service. Use it.
  • Research effective free and low-cost marketing strategies. Consider which are most likely to help you reach your specific target audience and provide the greatest benefits relative to the costs (which include both time and money). However, also realize that some things that may not lead to many immediate sales may have a significant indirect benefit like helping you look like a complete, professional author.

The better your book is, the more seriously you’ll put effort into the book’s launch and success, and the more confidence you’ll show in your work and marketing.

No Guarantees

There is a risk; there are no guarantees that your book will succeed. Not all book ideas have the potential to sell well. There are some books that don’t sell well, where there isn’t much that could change the fate of the book. A very rare book will succeed with so-so packaging and marketing; the vast majority need effective packaging, marketing, and content.

However, there are very many books that are close, but no cigar, where a little help could go a long way. Maybe the cover or blurb are attracting the wrong audience. Maybe something in the Look Inside is deterring sales. Maybe customers are checking the book out, but are reluctant to try a book with a sales rank in the millions.

Can you remember shopping for a product when you were on the verge of making the purchase, where you were having a tough time deciding? Even a small thing could decide it one way or the other.

If the customer is viewing your product page, that customer is interested. He or she is deciding. The content and packaging will make or break the sale. Your cover, blurb, Look Inside, reviews, author photo, biography, and categories are the only marketing you have at the point-of-sale.

Do you believe that you have a marketable book, that there is a significant audience that will truly enjoy it? Do you think it’s good enough that many people will recommend it to others? Then you have to go for it and give your book its best chance.

Research books similar to yours to see what the prospects are. If there are books like yours selling well, and you can honestly see yours competing with those (make lists of things that those books and your book have going for and against them), then some extra tender-loving care before you publish may make a big difference down the road.

By perfecting your book, you will be happiest with it and so will your readers. You will be proud to share it. You will know it’s a worthy product, regardless of its fate. If you give your book its best chance of succeeding, you won’t have any nagging doubts about what you might have done better.


Joe is a purely fictional character invented solely for the purpose of illustration. Any resemblance to any actual author is purely coincidental.

Free resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles, by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Riddle: What Does Every Writer Need to Succeed?


It’s not a pen because you could use a pencil or a computer.

It’s not a medium on which to write because the writing could simply exist in a bard’s mind.

It’s not a brain because that doesn’t distinguish a writer from any other art form.

It’s not lucky underwear because this job is clothing-optional.

It’s not a dictionary or thesaurus; although these come in handy, they aren’t always needed.

It’s not an audience because it is possible to define a new genre and gather a new audience.

It’s not money, as a writer can start out empty-handed and become successful.

It’s not writing instruction; while it does help to be well-versed, it is possible to become fluent through avid reading, for example.

It’s not praise, since although most writers would like it, the road to success is often paved with much criticism.

It’s not criticism because it’s already spurious and not everyone benefits from it.

It’s not an agent or great connection, which may help, as some writers have succeeded without this.

It’s not research, though it can be a big asset, since it can be compensated or trumped by a huge imagination.

It’s not imagination because many writers succeed with small changes to what’s already out there.

It’s not a pet squirrel, yet it’s highly recommended.

It’s simpler than all that, and everyone can have it. It’s passion.

Writing without passion. Is it worth reading? Was it worth writing?

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

What Are Your Writing Goals?


How you define success, establish expectations, and prepare a marketing plan depend on your objectives.

So as you plan the new year and make writing resolutions, take a moment to consider your objectives as an author.

Here is a sample of writing goals:

  • To master the craft of writing. Spend more time writing, of course. Also, spend time reading classics and the kind of writing you wish to master. Seek feedback from readers. Search for writing tips.
  • To share your writing with others. Post writing on your blog. Publish a book. Publish poetry, short stories, essays, or articles online or in print. Market your written works to your specific target audience.
  • To support your writing hobby financially. Research which kinds of books you are a good fit to write, where there is a significant demand. Perfect your book to improve your prospects for good reviews and recommendations. Seek a traditional publisher or design a highly marketable cover, blurb, and look inside. Learn how to market your book effectively. Look for related jobs that you may excel at, such as editing or cover design.
  • To have fun. Write in your spare time as a hobby. Enjoy it. Be creative. Devote more time to writing and less time to marketing and other related activities. Find fun and creative ways to do those other activities so you can keep the focus on enjoying your writing. Don’t get caught up in stats or reviews.
  • To leave a legacy for your children. Involve your kids with your books. Make up stories for them at bedtime. Write special stories or poems just for them and publish them privately. Encourage your kids to assemble books and publish those privately. Mention your family in the acknowledgments or dedications section of your book. Specify how royalties will be awarded and distributed in your will, and provide information that will help your heirs understand and manage your books and author platform.
  • To gain accolades. Master the craft of writing and storytelling. Focus on perfecting your book idea and the book itself. Enter contests. Learn from your experience and enter more contests. Create a fan page and include a link to it at the end of your books. Interact with your fans. Attend writing conferences. Build connections among writers, agents, and editors. Develop a very thick skin because there is much criticism on the road to praise.
  • To try out a new genre or writing style. Don’t view it as an experiment. Have fun with it, but also take it seriously. Research what you will be writing thoroughly. Motivate yourself to master the new art. Do your best, as if it’s the only way you will ever write.
  • To share your knowledge or help others. Master the material you wish to share. Master the art of explaining ideas clearly. Master the art of teaching effectively. Research your specific target audience’s learning styles and background level. Perfect your article or book. Post relevant free content on your website. Post relevant content on other websites to reach people who aren’t already in your following. This can be an online article or a YouTube video channel, for example.
  • To get published traditionally. Research books that are highly marketable which are a good fit for you to write. Master the craft of writing your book in a way that will please a specific target audience. Make connections with agents, editors, illustrators, cover designers, and publicists. Receive advice from experienced, successful publicists and agents at the outset of your project. Subscribe to magazines and newspapers that are a good fit for your writing. Read and study those articles for several months, then submit your own articles for publication. Research how to write query letters and book proposals. Find a literary agent. Post your rejection letters where you will see them every morning to fuel your motivated self-diligence. Strive to improve. Never give up.
  • To become instantly rich and popular without any effort. Don’t write at all. Get a full-time job. Be frugal. Spend every spare penny on lottery tickets. Hope. Pray. Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t pan out.

Publishing help

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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The Transition from Newbie Indie to Complete Author Package


The newbie indie author typically launches with a humble beginning:

  • One book on the market.
  • First attempt at formatting.
  • Just friend and family support.
  • Could use some editing help.
  • Not sure how to promote the book.
  • Very tentative about any marketing.

The professional indie author has a complete package:

  • Multiple books available.
  • Several customer reviews.
  • Substantial fan base and following.
  • Extensive online platform includes blog, website, and social media.
  • Knows many formatting and publishing tips.
  • A variety of connections provide valuable support.
  • Experienced with several marketing strategies.
  • Shows confidence to setup promotional events.

It’s easy for a newbie author to encounter a professional author and feel overwhelmed.

Yet every author starts out new.

(You can do research and start out wiser, and you can start to build a following before you publish… but no matter what, the author you are on your debut doesn’t compare to the author you are when you become wiser, more knowledgeable, and more experienced.)

Here’s the thing: Every newbie has the opportunity to evolve into a professional author with a complete package.

It’s easy, really; much easier than you think:

  • Time is on your side. Improve a little here and a little there, and over the course of time, you’ll have a complete package. Time also gives you experience. Learn what you can.
  • You need initiative. If you’re negative and tend to convince yourself that this won’t pay off, that won’t be worthwhile, and you’ll never be able to do that, then you’re right: It won’t. There are so many opportunities out there for those who are patient, show initiative, and don’t give up.

Most marketing strategies don’t pay quick dividends.

This doesn’t mean that they’re not worthwhile. Many free and low-cost strategies pay long-term dividends that make them worthwhile.

Here’s the difference:

  • When you spend a couple of years diligently branding your image on a variety of online platforms and in person, you can eventually build a name for yourself. When only do this short-term, you aren’t noticed or are quickly forgotten.
  • When you post content relevant to your target audience for several months, eventually you attract a healthy following as word spreads about your gold mine. Early on, there isn’t as much material and you haven’t been around long enough to get discovered.
  • When you only use one online medium, only people who favor that one online platform can find you. When you have a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc., you’re visible to everybody and you also look like a more complete author.
  • When you’ve been posting for a couple of years, you look like an established author who has been around. When your content is relatively new, you’re still struggling to get discovered and build your following.
  • When your blog is new, you have a basic blog with a few posts. Over time, you can have several pages on your website with valuable content geared toward your target audience, and your website evolves as you come across and try out new features.
  • When you’ve interacted with other authors for a couple of years, you learn many useful formatting, publishing, and marketing tips. This helps you improve over time.
  • Researching marketing strategies and trying them out takes time. The more effort you put into this, the more knowledgeable and experienced you become.
  • After a few years, you will have more books out, a larger fan base, a bigger following, more reviews, more connections, more experience, more knowledge, more wisdom… you’re more of an author than you were.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work, motivation, initiative, a thick skin, a good support system, and much patience.

You don’t write a whole novel overnight. (I hope!) You don’t do all of your marketing overnight, either.

It’s a choice you can make. Do you want long-term success and to thrive as an author? Or not?

There are many opportunities out there. Grab them.

  • Have you signed up for free exposure through Read Tuesday? You still can.
  • Did you take up Green Embers’ gracious offer for free indie advertising? It’s not too late.
  • Are you contacting bloggers for possible guest posts, interviews, or book reviews? You can’t do it if you don’t try. Check out the Story Reading Ape, for example.
  • Which local bookstores and libraries have you approached? Put together a press release kit, grab a few copies of your book, and give it a shot.
  • Check out complete authors to see what they’re doing, that you aren’t trying. Take the word “can’t” out of your vocabulary. Figure out how you can. Don’t expect immediate dividends. Strive for a complete package a couple of years from now. Be patient, work hard, and let time be on your side.

The difference between an author who develops a complete, professional package and one who doesn’t is very often as simple as showing initiative. It’s not really a secret, and it’s easy enough for anyone to do it.

Love books? Check out Read Tuesday, a Black Friday event just for books (all authors can sign up for free): website, Facebook page, Twitter

Check out the CNN iReport for Read Tuesday. You can help support Read Tuesday by voting on it, commenting, and sharing the iReport on Facebook or Twitter. Click here to see the iReport. Tell your friends and maybe we can get additional national exposure for Read Tuesday. Any help will be much appreciative. Here is another example where a simple thing like initiative can make a huge difference.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Volume 1 (formatting/publishing) and Volume 2 (packaging/marketing), Facebook page, Twitter

The Multi-Book Strategy


There are several potential benefits to publishing multiple titles, especially if the titles are similar:

  • When customers see that the author has written several different books, it creates the perception that the author is a serious, dedicated writer. When the author only has one book available, the perception is that this is a new author.
  • Customers who enjoy one of your books are likely to try more of your books. There is a big IF involved here—i.e. how likely are customers to enjoy your books? If so, having multiple titles out can earn you repeat business.
  • The books that have been out the longest are likely to have more reviews, which can help lend credibility to your newer books even when they don’t have reviews yet.
  • You can build a fan base among your prior customers and utilize this to help create buzz and initial sales for your new books.
  • When shopping for print books, customers often buy a few books at a time. One reason is that customers may qualify for free shipping this way; but even without this incentive, multi-book shopping is still common for print books. The more books you have available in print, the more customers are likely to buy a few of your books at the same time, especially if you have similar titles. (If you have an omnibus for a series, you can discount it to offer an incentive to buying the entire set up front.)
  • Your own books are likely to show upon on each other’s Customer Also Bought lists. This way, sales of your own books help to inspire same-day or future sales of your other books.
  • If the titles form a series, the further along you are in the series, the less risk readers will see in the time they will invest. When only the first volume is out, there is a greater chance that the series won’t be completed. (If you have two different series out, but neither is finished, this may be a deterrent. Readers may wonder if you don’t tend to finish what you start.)
  • The more books you publish, the more experience you gain, which gives each new book potential for improvement.
  • Working on your next book will keep you from checking your stats too frequently, take your mind off reviews, and give you an incentive not to waste your time.

More and more authors are becoming aware of possible benefits of the multi-book strategy.

This news leads to a few common mistakes:

  • The temptation to hurry. Rushing the writing and rushing to get the books out there, with the hope of multi-book success, may backfire. Delivering quality content is much more likely to earn referrals and good reviews. A lack of quality due to a rushed delivery is much more likely to earn bad reviews and no future business. (You can revise a book to improve it, but you only get one chance to make a good first impression, your reputation is at stake, and bad reviews are there to stay with print books.)
  • The temptation not to market. Authors may hope that the benefits of having multiple books will make up for a lack of marketing. There are two ways to look at this. First, consider that if the books aren’t selling, the lack of reviews and dismal sales ranks will discourage sales even more so. Second, consider that every customer you attract through marketing may buy multiple books in the long run. Therefore, if you plan to write multiple books, you should be more motivated to market because there is more potential gain in the long run.
  • The temptation to create a larger number of shorter works. The problem here is that customers want a good value for their hard-earned money. If customers feel that the content isn’t a good value, they are less likely to provide referrals, repeat business, or good reviews. If they feel that it’s a poor value, bad reviews are more likely. (This is on top of being less likely to buy the book in the first place because it doesn’t seem like a good value, let alone try out a new author.) Just to be clear, I’m not saying you should price your book cheap (most books should avoid the minimum price point—here is another common mistake, but that’s for another day). Rather, I’m saying that providing full-length books may be better than a series of short stories.

The first books you publish help to establish your reputation. You want to start out with a good reputation as a professional author who delivers quality content. You want to give your first books the best possible chance of earning referrals, repeat business, and good reviews.

Satisfying customers is the key to long-term success.

If you have the motivation and diligence to write and publish several books, then you’re obviously interested in long-term success. So take the time now to give your future its best possible chance of success.

If you have the motivation and diligence to write and publish several books, market your books avidly from the beginning in order to derive the greatest possible benefit from your efforts. You have more to gain from marketing in the long run than an author who only writes one book, so you should be more motivated to do this.

On the other hand, there comes a point where the book is excellent, but if you’re too much of a perfectionist, your book may never get finished. The temptation to rush is much more common than to continually delay because there is always something else that could be improved. However, if you’re one of the perfectionists who may take forever to get your book out there, then you have the opposite problem of needing to say that enough is enough, it’s already very, very good. It helps to have pre-readers who can help you judge this (since thinking it’s very good when it’s not good can be a major problem, while thinking it’s not good when it’s already excellent may be an unnecessary delay); however, getting honest feedback is another issue, too.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

Book Proposals for Indie Authors . . . WHAT?!


One of the advantages of self-publishing is that you can spend more time writing your book instead of investing much time and effort writing and sending query letters and book proposals.

However, it is still beneficial to indie authors to learn how to write a book proposal and apply it to their own books.

I don’t mean to actually sit down and write a detailed, lengthy proposal.

I do mean to consider the ingredients, think how you would prepare each part of the proposal, and do the research that it would entail.

Why? Because it can help you with your marketability and marketing.

When you write a book proposal, you’re trying to convince a publisher that your book is marketable. Writing a proposal will help you better understand how to improve your book’s marketability and how to market your book.

Here are some examples:

  • A book proposal requires you to identify your specific target audience. You need to pinpoint your audience, justify it, and research numbers. The publisher wants to know that the audience exists and how large it is. Why do this? When you design your cover, write your blurb, and choose categories and keywords, you will know who you are trying to sell your book to.
  • You need to make lists of current competitive and complimentary titles when you write a proposal. The publisher wants to see proof that books similar to yours can succeed, to know if your book fills a need, and to determine if the market is already saturated. Why does it matter to you? First, you should share these same concerns. Second, checking out similar titles will help you see what kinds of covers attract your target audience and show you what kinds of formatting are common in your genre.
  • Your experience and expertise are important when proposing a new book. Not only that, but you must present these in a way that will show that you’re the best person to write your book. Why bother? If your author biography is effective at convincing customers that you’re well-suited to you write your book, this can be significant.
  • A query letter must catch the editor’s or agent’s interest while also briefly describing your book. So what? Well, doesn’t a blurb basically achieve this? Your blurb shouldn’t read like a query letter; they are two different things with different objectives. However, they do both need to catch attention and briefly describe what to expect. A little practice trying to sell your book with a query letter may help you see your blurb from the perspective of marketability.
  • You must research marketing options and prepare a promotional plan as part of a book proposal. Publishers want to know what you will do to help sell your book (not what you’re willing to do, but what you will do—if you ever write a book proposal, this distinction will be important). Why worry about marketing? Because, unfortunately, books generally don’t sell themselves. It’s better to learn about marketing before you publish your book than afterward. You should do pre-marketing, such as building a following and creating buzz before you publish. You’ll want to have a concrete marketing plan in place when you do publish.
  • A proposal also requires you to prepare an outline, sample chapter, and chapter summaries. If the editor becomes interested in your book, this will help the editor see your project in more concrete terms. Why does it matter? The sample chapter of a book proposal should sell the book to an editor. Similarly, the Look Inside sample of a book must sell the book to a buyer. The outline and chapter summaries can help you see the structure of your book, make connections, and keep things in order. It can also be a useful planning tool to authors who like to plan things out before they write. Authors who write by the seat of their pants might still find it helpful afterwards.

If you go through the trouble of trying to get published and get rejected or change your mind, use the experience of writing the query letter and book proposal to help you with marketability and marketing.

Note that Candace Johnson at Change It Up Editing has a 10-step article in progress on how to write a compelling nonfiction book proposal.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

An Example of Successful Nonfiction Marketability and Marketing

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Today, instead of discussing marketing ideas in general terms, I will provide a specific example.

I think this will be quite useful. This post features a specific nonfiction book, which has many instructive marketability features, and its author, who has done some wonderful things in the way of marketing which are accessible to most authors.

The e-book is currently number #1 in Happiness at Amazon, and was in the top 1000 in paid books in the Kindle store when I checked on it last night. This is a result of the book’s marketability combined with the author’s marketing. I will try to reveal many of the instructive features that have made this book successful, with the hope that doing so may help other authors.

I plan to do a future post on a fiction book, too. I also have one in mind that features a specific website with instructive marketing and publicity features. If these work out well, I’ll consider preparing posts like these more often.

The book I selected is Happiness as a Second Language by Valerie Alexander. This book is available as a paperback, e-book, and audiobook. I happened to discover Valerie’s blog several months ago and immediately bought the book because it strongly appealed to me. (I have several books from my fellow bloggers, and you can bet I’ll be a happy shopper on Read Tuesday.)

I recommend checking out the paperback edition on Amazon. Explore the book’s detail page and the Look Inside. There are specific features that help its marketability. I’ll refer to these; if you see them for yourself, it will be more instructive. The Kindle edition has the much better sales rank presently, but the paperback edition has some nice formatting that I’ll mention in a moment.

What makes this book so marketable?

Several things:

  • The concept: Who doesn’t want to be happier? It’s a hot commodity. But it’s not just happiness: It is teaching happiness like it’s a foreign language (which correlates with experience).
  • Cover appeal: (1) Yellow is a happy color, which fits the theme. I like the ‘A,’ because it sends out good vibes. I feel happy just looking at it. (2) Three color rule: Mostly yellow, contrasting with black and red nicely. (3) Easily readable, yet the font is interesting and seems to fit the theme. A large title is common in nonfiction. (4) Grabs the attention of the target audience quickly. (5) Simple yet effective. Didn’t make the mistake of being too busy.
  • Effective blurb: It’s concise and clear. It comes right out with the best stuff. What’s really nice is that it presents ideas that seem foreign, so you feel like there is a lot of material you can learn, but it also makes everything seem like it might be easy to understand (“happy colors” isn’t technical jargon, but sounds easy to learn and apply).
  • Formatted blurb: Note the occasional use of boldface and italics, which can be done through AuthorCentral.
  • Emotion: Check out Valerie’s bio. She experienced life’s challenges and overcame them with the techniques that she explains in her book. It’s a moving success story. Notice that she just briefly mentioned her low point in her bio, instead of going into detail her. Wise decision, I think.
  • Smile: Her author pic shows a nice smile, which it must, because she’s selling happiness. The photo is appealing, which is important.
  • Professional Look Inside: This is very important. Once the cover and blurb entice the reader, the Look Inside has to close the deal. The copyright page shows that it was published by Goalkeeper Media, Inc. Look at the bottom of the copyright page where it lists people who took the author photo, designed the cover, did the cover layout, and designed the interior; you’ll find similar information in many traditionally published books.
  • Design marks: The design marks on the first page of each chapter and the page headers look professional (I’m referring to the paperback edition). Note that the page header marks are light so as not to call too much attention from the reader (and distract from the reading). If you can find any of the tables or textboxes, they are well-formatted, too (maybe try searching for “Pop Quiz” in the Search Inside feature). Professional touches make a big difference.
  • Editorial reviews: A few of these on your book’s detail page can be helpful.

The book looks professional from cover to cover. This is so important. Combine this with content that appeals to a large target audience a book will have amazing potential.

That’s what readers want. They want books that appear professional from cover to cover and on the product page, where both the content and packaging appeal to them. Isn’t that what you want when you’re shopping for a book?

What did the author do to market this book?

Note that these are all observations that I have made on my own. I did contact Valerie to get her consent before preparing this post, but I have based everything on my own observations.

Like just about everyone else reading this post, Valerie has a blog. I checked out her Speak Happiness blog and the archives date back to January, 2013. I checked her Kindle and paperback product pages, and her publication date is April 30, 2013. Therefore, I see that she started building an online following and creating buzz for her book 3-4 months before she actually published it. Premarketing is very important.

You can see from her blog site that she—like many authors—is also active on Twitter and Facebook. Her headers are effective, too. They help to brand an image from her cover.

She doesn’t just have the social media going, she’s also an active and supportive member of the community. I know this firsthand from my occasional interactions with her on both of our blogs.

Creativity can be put to good use in marketing. Check out the Reader Gallery on her blog site. You see pictures of readers holding her book up. This was a clever idea, and Valerie succeeded in getting participation.

One of the best things, in my humble opinion, that Valerie has done in the way of marketing is to get visibility among her target audience in high-traffic areas. This can be huge. She achieved this by publishing articles that relate to her book’s content. This is a very valuable resource that most authors don’t bother with. There are so many places online and offline that need relevant content that it gives you a chance to succeed in getting an article published and mentioning next to your name, Author of My Book Title.

Valerie published multiple articles with the Huffington Post. You can’t do it if you don’t try. Valerie tried and succeeded, and it greatly helps with exposure.

When I first contacted Valerie to mention that I enjoyed her book, months ago, she had asked very politely if I might be interested in doing a blog interview with her. At the time, I said no. As you know if you follow my blog, I don’t presently do book reviews or blog interviews. But it shows that she was contacting bloggers to help gain exposure. From a recent comment she made on one of my blog posts, I learned that she’s had some recent success with bloggers featuring her book. (Yes, today, months later, I have featured her book. I still don’t do interviews or book reviews so-to-speak, but I am testing out the idea of preparing posts with useful marketing ideas that feature a specific book.)

I think it’s very notable that she didn’t price her e-book at the bare minimum. Her original e-book price was $6.99. I’d say that most of the books in the 99 cent to $2.99 price range (but note that I myself have some for $2.99) should actually be in the $3.99 to $5.99 range instead. Exceptions might be the first book in a series or every book in a really long series, for example. I know some authors with marketable books whose sales actually increased when raising the price from $2.99 to $3.99. Many readers who get frustrated with a 99-cent or $2.99 e-book purchase shop in the $3.99 to $5.99 window, hoping to get what you pay for. (On the other hand, they still want value for their money. A short story can be a hard sell, but pricing a short story in the higher price range might not work out.)

You can create the perception of value. First, the price itself helps to establish this. Next, personal interactions with your target audience add value to your book. If you’re providing quality service like this and you have a marketable book, you don’t have to price at the low end of the spectrum.

Also note that a higher price may actually help your sales rank if you can succeed in generating sales at  the higher price. If a 99-cent e-book sells 100 copies per day, a $5.99 e-book that sells 50 copies per day actually makes more profit for Amazon. So Amazon should (for Amazon’s own benefit), and seems to, factor price into sales rank.

Her relatively higher e-book price also helped her achieve some recent success. Valerie placed multiple ads (BookBub, Book Gorilla, and others) for a special, one-time promotional discount of her e-book. Happiness as a Second Language is presently 99 cents, which is a huge savings. The promotion ends on Halloween, so you still have a chance to take advantage of this if the book happens to interest you. (I wasn’t asked to say this. I enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.)

Valerie is just doing one huge promotion this October, and after that her e-book will be permanently priced at $4.99 (a discount off the original price, but nothing like 99 cents). I’m fond of this strategy. She went all-out to promote the daylights out of her book’s sale. She makes it very clear that it’s a one-time deal, which provides a sense of urgency. After the sale, nobody will be thinking to wait until the next sale.

I really like that she isn’t giving her book away for free, yet she is making highly effective use of a one-time sale. She’s getting ample exposure while still drawing royalties. Unlike freebies, since people are paying for the book, they’re probably actually reading the blurb to make sure it’s something they want and they are more likely to actually read the book once they buy it.

There are a couple of marketing tools that Valerie has used, which many authors don’t. One is a book trailer and another is an audiobook (there is a significant market for audiobooks, especially among truck drivers; if your target audience is in this market, it may be helpful to do).

An important note about Valerie’s book trailer is that she shot the video on her iPhone. You don’t need access to a professional movie studio to do this. If you need a little help, try contacting the film department at the nearest university. There is a good chance that a film student would be interested in earning a little income to help you out.

When I showed Valerie a draft of this post, she mentioned that she sees her shortcomings more than what she may be doing right and compares herself to other authors who seem to be doing everything right. If you feel this way, as many authors do, there is something you can take from this. Even authors who seem to have achieved various degrees of success struggle with doubts, find faults in themselves, and see greener grass on the other side. In a way, this can be good and help to keep you humble. It may be helpful to other authors to realize that even successful authors experience these same issues.

I hope you got something useful out of this article. In the past, I haven’t done interviews or book reviews. This is as close as I’ve come. I feel like I’m providing useful marketing content while also helping another author at the same time. Please let me know how you feel about this, as feedback will help me decide whether or not to try it again in the future.

Let’s offer a big THANK YOU to Valerie for allowing me to feature her book in my post.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)