Thoughts on self-publishing

Posted: February 10, 2016 by Jaden C. Kilmer in Article, Revenant
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It’s been about three months since the self-published release of my YA novella, Revenant. (shameless link here!) It’s been an interesting experiment, but one I’d overall call a success. Below are some scattered thoughts about the whole process.

It’s easier and harder than you may think.

To self publish a book on amazon, all you gotta do is upload a word doc, fill out some information on yourself and the story, and provide your bank info so amazon can send you your royalties. Seems like an easy money making idea, right?

Well, putting a book up is the easy part.

revenant final

I was fortunate enough to have Revenant stay in the top 30 for teen novellas for about two months. How much of that is due to confusion with the movie called THE Revenant I don’t know. (more on that later) But getting the word out is harder than making a facebook post, a tweet, and then a promotional week on a blog. I found the most effective way to get people to check it out was face-to-face conversations. Asking your facebook friends to check out your new book can get a lot of likes and comments, but a lot of the support is superficial. ie, you get a “wow! Congrats!” but no purchase. Talking to people face-to-face might seem pushy, but it’s the most convincing way to pitch something yourself. There are other options, like hiring marketer but a lot of those cost money. If you believe in the “gotta spend money to make money” mantra then maybe that’s the way to go for you.

People are mean and/or stupid. 

The name similarity between my book and the movie is unintentional, though one shouldn’t be faulted for being confused. (FWIW, Revenant was the title from the story’s inception two or three years ago.) But when the book’s about section calls it a YA vampire novella, you’d think people would understand it’s not the survival/revenge story the movie promises.


TFW a 1 star review

But that’s not the case. I had multiple people tell me I’d ripped off the movie. One person didn’t even read the book (you can see who bought it with your amazon account) and tried to give it a negative review. Now I’m not saying people should be bowing down and giving 4 and 5 star reviews, but I am saying the fairly common sense idea of reading something before critiquing it is something people apparently don’t always follow. So if you’re putting yourself out there self-publishing, and you get some stupid person trying to shit on your story for the wrong reasons, do your best to ignore the idiots. Don’t take negative reviews personally, especially if the reviewer didn’t bother to read your info page. That said…

People are helpful.

Let’s face it, positive reviews are good for our self-esteem but bad for our learning process. A critical review that offers good insight to what you should do differently for future stories is invaluable. And the only way to really know how a larger audience will see your work is to put it out there. For that alone, it’s worth the venture.

Some extra money is nice, but don’t quit your day job.

For some context, my novella was consistently in the top 30 for its genre and top 25,000 (out of the millions of books available on amazon) for a couple months. Not great, but certainly not bad either for a first crack at it, and it netted, well, not much. For self-publishing, success stories are the exception, not the norm. And when the biggest success story in self-publishing history is Fifty Shades of Grey, sometimes all the skill in the world doesn’t even matter. So don’t go into it with dreams of waking up a household name.

It’s a great feeling

In the early days of putting a book up anywhere, compulsively checking sales (something I’ve heard referred to as Score Whoring) is really fun. Anxiously watching that line move up, then crash down, then rebound like a stock market chart, it’s honestly pretty fun just to watch the stats. And to know that your work is being read by people other than your immediate family and friends? It’s one of the best feelings a writer can have. Sure, maybe that number will only end up being 200 non-family/friends that read it, but that’s 200 more than before.

So, if you’re on the fence about trying out self-publishing, go for it! It’s easy, potentially rewarding, and (hopefully) a great way to gauge your ability in the eyes of a general audience!



  1. Jenn says:

    Great information. Looking to publish my first novel later this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the info…:)


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