Adventures in Self-Publishing for the First Time

I have the key to success in self-publishing. Shit, I wish.

After weighing my options for several years now, I’ve decided to go down the road of self-publishing. My dream had always been to walk into a book store and see my book sitting on the shelf. I really had no concept of what this meant. In reality, I just wanted visibility for my work so people could see how batshit crazy I am as a writer. It’s been a long road, but my first self-published short story “The Unicorn-Eater” went  live on Amazon on May 15th. Being that it’s a short story, I’m not expecting it to do gangbusters, but I’m hoping people will give it a try and see what the Splatter Elf brand is all about.

My experience has had its ups and downs as I expected. I’m not entirely sure the exact audience I’m targeting, but I’m sure they’re out there. People that grew up watching 80s action films with over the top violence. Stuff like Robo-Cop or Predator. Then you have a generation brought up on Adult Swim. These are other people I believe would like my style.

The main issue is finding these people, the never-ending quest to find readers. So far my launch has been pretty downplayed. I’ve done the usual sharing of my story on various social media. I’ve changed stuff on my blog and forums I visit. I’ve even got an email list which I’m hoping will grow once I figure out how to promote that as well.

What I’ve found is true of what many people say about self-publishing. It’s a full-time deal. You can’t just let a publisher do all your promoting for you and sit back and wait for the money to roll in. You have to be a writer, a marketer, a publicist, a website designer, everything. I have a lot of new-found respect for those out there doing the grind. It’s tough. I can see why some people spam relentlessly. Because it’s easy. That’s why people do it. To market in way that requires a lot of time and effort is very difficult, especially if you have lots of other stuff going on. I find that whatever works for you, do it, regardless of what it is.

So, if you’re thinking of self-publishing and what to make a shitload of money right out the gate, then you better have your infrastructure all set-up before you even think of publishing. For me, because I’m doing a “soft launch” with a short story, I realize that I can’t bank my entire writing career around one story. The main thing is to figure out how to reach people that would like my story. If you’re curious what I’ve done so far, here are some ideas. Some may be good, some bad. I’ve still yet to do some other things people have recommended, but I will probably try anything once.

Things I’ve Done:

1. Shared on Facebook (personal and Splatter Elf page)

2. Shared on Twitter (using hashtags and all that, although I’m not sure I’m using the right ones)

3. Made this shiny new blog!

4. Did a podcast interview with The Grim Tidings Podcast (which I also regularly co-host)

5. Sacrificed a small cockatrice

6. Danced under the blood moon.

7. Twiddled my thumbs


Things I Want to Do/May Do

1. Navigate Goodreads and figure out how that works

2. Post some videos on Youtube for the video experience

3. Connect with other forums that may help out with finding an audience

4. Possibly paying for a brief promotion

5. Maybe doing a blog tour?


So that’s what I’ve got for now. Self-publishing doesn’t have to be super stressful, but it does take work and dedication. My hats off to all of out there. And if you have any tips for a mewling neophyte, please feel free to share.



  1. I’ve found author/character interviews to be useful. They are also a great way of discovering new things about characters.

    Goodreads – so so. It CAN be useful but use it wisely. A lot of the groups have strict rules about marketing and promotion and can kick you out for promoting where you shouldn’t. There are also a fair few readers who don’t much like self pubbed books and don’t like authors who promote. That said there are plenty of readers who do and will read self published books. I’d say network, join in with discussions, and don’t simply use it to promote yourself non stop. Review other books.

    Twitter – not a damn clue. I use it, mostly to promote the blog, and find things I’m interested in – like astronomy and history. Again it’s a useful tool but unless you have zillions of followers then it’s use might well be as an addition to a wider strategy.

    Facebook – yes. Many people disagree but personally I find most of my books through FB and I’ve sold a few that way that I know of. It’s better for forming networks and finding interesting and useful topics and people than Goodreads or Twitter. I’d say look for groups in your genre. – Sword and Sorcery, Heroic Fantasy, Grimdark etc. Again check the group rules for promotion. There are tons of writers’ groups as well – some better than others.

    I think for any social media you need to 1) research the groups which might work for you. There is no way you can keep up with 1000 or even 100 groups daily; 2) check the guidelines – if you promote in the wrong place, or on the wrong day or just behave like a twat you WILL get flamed for it. The internet is an unforgiving place – and what gets posted, especially in anger WILL be shared, used against you and even if you then delete the post someone will have seen it. My parents taught me to to think before I speak. It’s the same online. If someone behaves like a jerk then a lot of people will see it. For an author it’s doubly important – you are your brand and that affects how people see you and your work. I know people who won’t buy a book simple because an author made an ill-thought out comment, behaved like a spoiled child or was generally an asshat. 3) put the work in – prepare to spend time when you could be writing promoting.

    Remember too, unfortunately it doesn’t work both ways. Facebook is full of people with strong opinions – many of whom have totally opposite views to you or me. They’ll say what they think. Haters gonna hate. Don’t get into arguments for the sake of it, really it isn’t worth it. Go rant to your mate, your dog or cat, your sister or into the mirror. This brings me onto reviews.

    Reviews – don’t obsess about them. Many writers think no reviews means no sales and bad reviews kill a book stone dead. Neither are true, at least not entirely. Reviews are one reader’s opinion – nothing more. Joe Bloggs might think your book is fantastic, Jane Doe might think it’s trash. Both are right, and neither are right. What is important to one person the next doesn’t give a hoot about. Look at any book on Amazon and I bet it will have a broad mix of reviews – even classics, even Shakespeare. There is ALWAYS someone who doesn’t like a book. Often for a reason the author doesn’t understand or hadn’t even considered. Yes of course it is great to get a positive review and a bit sucky to know someone hated the work but move on. They’ll be other reviews, other days.

    Reviews do help to sell books, as there are readers who read through them and won’t buy a book with a rating below, say 4, or that have a lot of negative reviews. Then again there are lots of people who don’t care and want to form their own opinions about a book. There are also plenty of people suspicious of reviews – they think they are bought, traded or biased. In some cases it’s true, mostly it’s not but those which are tarnish the review system for everyone.

    Blog tours can work – I’m a blogger occasionally for maskerade tours and I know people who have used them – some had success and some didn’t. There a hundreds of blog tour companies out there.

    Another thing to consider – Thunderclap.

    1. Wow! Thanks for the long, insightful post. I’m still learning a lot since I’ve kind of “soft launched” my self-publishing ventures (no novels as of yet). I like using social media, but it’s sometimes harder for me to connect with people because I have so many different things to juggle. So it’s always great to meet people who engaged and share similar interests. I’ll keep a look out for posts on your blog because I’m wanting to be more active with my blogging, but I’m trying to release short stories on regular basis, maybe once a month. Thanks again!

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