Jennifer Jett-Prezkop and Eric Vance Walton
Last week, I shared a list of 10 steps on how to self-publish your book by the end of 2017. Self-publishing is no simple task, and even as the author of the list, I admit I’m feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work that lies ahead. It’s times like this when it’s important to look to those who have successfully self-published for guidance—and encouragement. If you know authors who have made self-publishing work for them, don’t be shy. Ask them about how they did it. I don’t know of any authors who don’t like to talk about their work, and the amount of knowledge you can gain from their hard-learned industry lessons will be invaluable.
One of the self-published authors I like to turn to is Eric Vance Walton, a novelist, poet, and blogger who ventured into self-publishing in 2013 with Alarm Clock Dawn, the first of his dystopian trilogy. Walton put the trilogy on hold to publish One Word at a Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author in 2014 through a traditional publishing house, an experience that taught him to appreciate the freedom of self-publishing. Here he shares his journey through self-publishing and why he would do it all over again.
Why did you choose to self-publish?
EVW: Frankly, I chose self-publishing because it was my only viable choice at the time. This was in the late 90s before larger platforms like Amazon’s CreateSpace existed. Traditional publishers weren’t willing to publish me as a new author since I hadn’t already made a name for myself. Now we have many more choices, and even established authors are choosing to self-publish because they have more control of the whole process.
In the past, self-publishing had a stigma attached to it. Did this have any influence on your decision to pursue it?
EVW: In my experience, this stigma is gone for the most part. If you produce a quality book, have a great cover, and the book is marketed well, your work can be as attractive as a book from a major publishing house. I was traditionally published for the first time in 2014, and I probably wouldn’t go that route again. You can make more of a profit and have greater control self-publishing.
What is the most challenging thing about self-publishing?
EVW: The most challenging aspect of self-publishing is you have to wear all of the hats—editing, book design, marketing, et cetera—or hire professionals. I would strongly suggest hiring an editor and professional book cover designer at the very least. Also, to ensure you recoup your investment and make a profit, you must already have a loyal readership built before you launch a book. You can do this by blogging and writing regularly on social media sites. Build a mailing list independent of social media using an app like MailChimp. Building your mailing list should be a top priority because this allows you to market directly to potential customers.
What surprised you the most about the process?
EVW: The work only just begins when you finish writing the book.
Tell us about how you marketed your novel.
EVW: I had already built a loyal readership on Facebook before I launched Alarm Clock Dawn, so I mainly marketed on my Facebook author page. I boosted a few ads to improve outreach there. I also collaborated with other bloggers, and they reviewed my book on their blog. This helped a lot.
What kind of success have you seen with Alarm Clock Dawn?
EVW: The novel had decent sales in the first few months after publication in 2013, but after this initial surge, sales plateaued. This past summer, I started releasing my novel in installments on a new social media platform called Steemit. This breathed new life into my novel and will likely give me the freedom to write full time very soon.
What advice would you give someone who wants to self-publish in 2017?
EVW: To do it effectively, I would say give yourself at least six to nine months from the time your book is done to do an effective launch. This timeframe is if you already have a loyal readership and mailing list built from blogging and writing on social media.
Thank you, Eric! If you are interested in Eric's work, you can visit his website here.
You can find Alarm Clock Dawn here,
and One Word at a Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author here.