Sunday, 11 November 2012

Highs and Lows of Self-Publishing—Kurt Chambers

There are many good and bad points when it comes to becoming a self-published author, I thought I would talk today about my experiences in the hope that it will be some help towards any other authors who are considering going down this route.

Let me first give you my reasons for why I decided to self-publish my MG novel, Truth Teller. I never intended to self-publish this story. I was confident I could get it published in the traditional way. I did everything that I feel an author should do. I spent a couple of years writing my novel. Once completed, I joined an online forum and met other writers, who, over a period of many years, taught me how to perfect my craft and write and edit my work to a publishable standard. In this time, I learned a lot!

Once confident that I had done as much as I could to make my story just perfect (if there is such a thing), I set out into the world of publishing, querying all the top publishers and agents, expecting to be the next big thing since Harry Potter. Then came the rejection letters. Oh the pain! My world crumbled when I couldn’t get any interest in my creation. All those years of work for nothing! My youngest daughter started calling me, The Rejectionator.

The truth was, my book wasn’t ready in the early days. I had been so eager for fame and fortune that I was blind to this. But, being a determined sort, I continued to learn and grow. The rejection letters continued to come, along with self doubt. What was I doing wrong? Were my friends lying to me? Maybe my book was rubbish. It took me many more years to realise it wasn’t my story that had a problem, but the publishers who dictate what is marketable or not. My story simply wasn’t marketable. Not the in thing.

Faced with this dilemma, I had to decide whether to shelve my story and wait for the market to change, or learn how to publish the story myself. Truth Teller meant so much to me, I couldn’t face putting it aside, and was persuaded by some close friends to publish it myself. I know now it was the right decision for me personally.

Should You Self-Publish or Not?

Self-publishing isn’t for everybody. I have given you my reasons for doing it, but before I came to this decision, I spent many years learning my craft. I would suggest all up-and-coming authors should go through this process before they ever consider self-publishing. It is a massive learning curve. Joining a good writing group will teach you how to craft your writing to a level you could never achieve on your own. It will make you a stronger and better writer. Think of it as an apprenticeship. It’s not something that can be rushed if you want to be as good as you can be. Going through the submission process is also good experience. As a creative writer, you are going to have to face a lot of rejection in your life.


On the plus side, self-publishing does give you 100% control over your work. I have known a few authors who have been offered a contract with a publisher and then had their books changed to such a point that they no longer liked their own stories in order to make them more marketable. A publisher will also like to use their own cover artists, so be prepared to have no say in what your cover may look like. Then there is the matter of royalties. Typically about 15% from a publisher, or 70% as a self-published author.

On the negative side, becoming a self-published author is a LOT of work. You will be responsible for making your work as good as it can be. If you want to do it properly, this will mean hiring someone to proofread your work to ensure it is at a publishable standard. Sadly, not all self-published authors do this and give self-publishing a bad name by publishing sub standard work. You will be responsible for purchasing your own ISBN numbers (International Standard Book Numbers). Find a good cover artist. Learn how to format correctly to upload your work to publish in e-book or print format. Of course, there are many people out there that you can hire to do this work for you, but it can come at a high price tag.

Lastly, once all this work is done and your book is launched into the world, then comes the hardest bit of all. Selling your book. This really is no easy task, let me tell you.

So, these are the good and bad points of becoming a self-published author. There are many other issues I still haven’t covered, but these are the main ones that came to mind as I was writing this. The answer to whether you should self-publish or not is not an easy or straight forward one. It depends on many things. It really is a personal choice. I hope this has been some help towards your decision, and good luck to anyone who is venturing into the crazy world of publishing.

Truth Teller by Kurt Chambers 


  1. Hi Kurt wonderful to meet you again on the Indie pathway. Best of luck for your release. Indie is hard as we already know but at the end of the day, month, year however long it takes to find our market, we can do it with a book and cover that we are 100 percent responsible for and that is enough to cheer.

    1. Hi Julie :) How good to see you here. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I totally agree with you! One of the reasons I self published was because I LOVE my cover. I would have been gutted to use any other. And I have to say, I love the cover to your book too! :) You must be very proud.

  2. I self published my first book (The Fourth Wish), and while that was great fun and I got some good reviews, and it jump-started me into blogging and FB and Twitter, you are so right about the fact that it's a LOT OF WORK. I decided that I'd rather put in that much work finding an agent for my next book (well, the next one I was marketing, because i wrote a collection of children's stories and was told by an agent that they aren't in demand, so I know what you mean.) But for my children's mystery, I did find an agent, and I'm so pleased. She has be working, but it's work I love: Writing. (The sequel, and some articles related to the genre.) And she has access to editors I could never submit to. So, I would advise not giving up on the traditional route.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Elizabeth :) This will be very helpful for any authors who are still undecided what route to go down. I happen to agree with you. Going down the traditional route may seem like an impossible task sometimes, but very rewarding if you can pull it off. I will be doing this with my newest novel, Unknown Reality.

  3. I loved this honest post! It was interesting to learn about the process and how you came to self publish Truth Teller. I am glad you did because it is such an enjoyable read. I know kids and adults will enjoy it! Can't wait for book #2. :)

    1. Awww, thank you, Stephanie :) I'm so happy you enjoyed my book and gave it such a great review. Thank you! :)