Self-Publishing Sucks


I started my self-publishing journey in February 2014 with my Young Adult Thriller, Jaded. I wanted to traditionally publish Jaded  and queried 25 agents, several of which I pitched to at a writing conference. A few showed interest but there were obviously no “yes’s.” To make matters worse, at the writing conferences I attended I kept hearing that the dystopian genre (which is where Jaded falls under) is “dead.”

I also entered the Swoon Reads competition, which at the time was a publishing opportunity for YA novels. Even though Jaded isn’t a romance, there is some romance involved, so I entered the contest. At one point Jaded was ranked #5 out of 180 manuscripts. One of the editors suggested that I make a few changes, but then I would have had to re-enter and the ranking would have started all over again.

Frustrated, I self-published. I also self-published a short story collection, Even In Death in August of 2014. I self-published Hunted, which is the second book in the Nirvana trilogy, in March of 2015, and Blinded, which is the prequel in the Nirvana trilogy, in April of 2016.

So far, self-publishing has sucked, at least e-book sales. I have much more luck selling paperbacks at various book related events, but it’s time consuming and can be pricey (if I have to pay for the space).

Even though I don’t plan on self-publishing in the future, (I recently finished another YA novel and I’m currently sending out queries) I’d like to sell more copies of my novels online. Therefore, I’m going to try some new things including reaching out to book reviewers. I only have 6 Amazon reviews for Blinded. Even though it’s the third in the series, it’s the prequel, so it can be read first.

If anyone is interested in a free copy of Blinded (Mobi, Epub, or PDF) in exchange for an honest Amazon review, please let me know and I’ll send it your way.

Wish me luck!

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  1. Hey Kristy,

    You were one of first bloggers to let me promote my first book on your blog and I have never forgotten that. I’m sorry to hear that you think self publishing sucks. But if you have the time, I’m gonna tell you a few things. So here goes.

    You say you queried twenty-five agents. Well, I queried 3,000! Ten hours a day, seven days a week it was go through the lists, get their emails, cut and paste my letter, and then send it out. One full year!!!

    I was pushing my first book, a 164,000 word mess. It was a good story, but I had no concept of proper editing. Anyway, I was told time and time again that anything over 80,000 words for a first time author was heresy. Finally, I got pissed off and sat down and wrote an 80,000 novel just as a big FU. Then I sent out queries. Lo and behold, within a month I had a contract with one of the biggest agencies in the country. And it was off to the races .. or so I thought. They got me published, but I had to do all the marketing, so what did I need a publisher for?

    Long story short .. we went our separate ways after my first book. They still send me my royalties four times a year and I love those guys … but …

    Anyway, in today’s world, traditional publishing is overrated unless you’re Stephen King. And I read that he puts aside $200,000 of his own money to promote each of his books.

    Okay. The morale of the story is you can get an agent if you really, really work at it. By the way, that first book won the Editors’ Choice Award for best Western of 2013. The book that you were kind enough to allow me to promote on your blog.

    Now on to the next thing.

    If you want reviews or space on blogs to promote your books, ya gotta send out “begging letters.” Again … ten hour days, seven days a week. I must have sent out 5,000 over the years. At first I asked for reviews and I got some, but then I came to the realization that the poor bloggers (like you) get inundated with review request. So to be a little different, I wrote the bloggers and offered them a guest post (an interesting guest post) or I’d do an interview in return for a chance to promote my book. To date, I’ve done over 600 and I’ve sold a few books in the process. And the more books you sell the more reviews you get.

    That first book of 164,000 words I edited down to 139,000 and self published it. Last year it was awarded Book of the Year by one outfit and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 by another. My point is that takes alotta work. I hate marketing. I’ve gotten to the place that when my next novel is published I’m not doing any marketing. No begging letters … no nothing. I’m writing this one for myself. In the end, the joy is in the process.

    Of my four published novels, three of them have become best-sellers. One of them hit #1 (twice) one, #2, and one #5 on Amazon. Of course, I’m bragging, but I’m also saying that you can do it too if you have the fire in your stomach. Me, I lost it.

    I wish you the best of luck. And I’ll always remember that you gave me my first break.

    Your friend,


  2. You were nice enough to review my self-published novel, Yesterday Road, back in ’13, and since then I’ve published three more indie novels. I have to agree with you: it sucks! Largely because Andrew is absolutely right: it’s pretty much a full-time job to do the marketing, which boils down to begging for attention. Yes, there are promotional sites like BookBub and Ereader News Today, but it’s getting harder and harder to get a book accepted by them (I have yet to get one into BookBub), which means there’s no market to promote to.

    I’m in your boat in that I’m inclined to query agents for my next book. And I’m willing to use Andrew’s saturation method for this one, just to say that I gave it all I’ve got.

    I guess the bottom line is: I feel your pain!

  3. Andrew,
    Thanks for the great feedback! I really want to publish traditionally for a number of reasons. For one, it would be great to have someone in the industry that believes in my work. For another, I want my books available in educational companies like Scholastic, Follett,and Mackin so that librarians may purchase them easily.
    I love your idea about asking for guest posts instead of reviews. I’m inundated with requests and I just don’t have the time to read them all, especially since I’m a middle school librarian and try to read as many of the books in our library as possible. So I’m sure other book reviewers are swamped as well.
    Marketing isn’t my thing (I just want to WRITE!) but I’m willing to work harder at it. Because as much as I enjoy being a school librarian, my dream is to write full time.
    Congrats on your success and thank you so much for all of your feedback!
    You’re the best!
    Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie recently posted…Self-Publishing SucksMy Profile

  4. Karla Collins says:

    Hi Kristy – I would love to read your book and write a review! Feel free to send it my way! :)

  5. I forgot to mention that publishers, for the most part, do not take on books that have already been published. And agents think the same way. If your book is selling maybe 1,000 copies a day (or even 500), and all by word of mouth, then they’ll knock down your door to sign you up.
    I don’t know if you are in the process of writing another book, but if you are, you might want to save all that energy and work sending out your query letters for the new book.
    You probably already know this, but there are sites that will teach you how to write a dynamite query and their members will critique it for you and add advice. That’s what I did. I think the site’s name is Agent Query. They also have up-to-date lists of agents to work from when sending out your letters.
    By the way, I bought “Blinded” and will give a review when I’m done reading it. A “Verified Purchase” holds more sway with Amazon and their customers than just a plain review.
    Finally, have you ever thought of doing paid promotions with the likes of eReader News Today, Choosy Bookworm, or Free Kindle Books and Tips? For $30.00 or $40.00 they’ll send out an email to their thousands of subscribers and you’ll get some sales. You’ll have to drop your price to $0.99 for the day of the promotion. I usually leave it down for the day after for any stragglers. Remember, the more books you sell the more reviews you’ll get, and the more reviews you get the more books you’ll sell. I never give my books away for free. When people get books for free, many of them stick it on their Kindle and forget about it. But if they pay for a book, they’ll read it. Even if the book was only $0.99.
    You’re also the best.

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