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Will You Succeed as a Self-Published Author?

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

Since we’re discussing self-publishing this week, here’s a quick quiz for you:

1. How independent are you?

2. Are you a do-it-yourself, free-spirited type?

3. Do you hate to be chained to “the man,” a desk, a stove or anything else you can think of?

4. Would you have survived just fine in the wild wild West, roping doggies and fending off rustlers with nothing but your trusty steed and Colt Peacemaker?

5. If you got stranded in the woods in the fall, would you be able to survive on your own until the winter thaw?

Clearly that quiz is a bit crazy, so I’m being a little facetious here. But the truth is that it does take a certain kind of person – in a certain kind of place – to succeed as a self-published author.

And you’re much better off knowing if you’re that person in that place before you decide to go for it.

How do you know if you’re the kind of person who can succeed as a self-published author?

It’s kind-of a tough question to answer. And I suppose it’s downright impossible without first defining what a self-published author is. So here we go…



Broken into its two separate words (or looked at as a single compound noun), this kind of authorial existence is fairly clear. It’s when a writer takes over the publishing process apart from a traditional publishing press.

Self-publishing gives authors a whole lot of freedom to have the last say about their own content, covers, price and even markets to a certain degree. Not to mention how they can stop sending out query letters. However, it also opens up reams of responsibility, including financial ones, creative ones and distributive ones to consider.


If you got fixated on the “they can stop sending out query letters” part, I fully understand. Honestly, that’s why I went the self-publishing route back in 2013.

I was tired of wasting my time writing to literary agent after literary agent without desirable results. I didn’t keep track of how many I sent, so I can’t quote a number.

All I know is it was enough to tip the scales toward one firm conclusion. I was ready to succeed as a self-published author.

Fortunately, I had some clue about what I was getting into in 2013. I knew I would have to handle my own:

  • Editing

  • Formatting

  • Cover design

  • Marketing.

And by handle, I mean do it myself or find (i.e., probably pay) someone else to do it for me.

In my case, I was already a professional editor at the time. But since nobody edits their own novel manuscript well enough, I knew I’d need help in that regard.

I downloaded free formatting forms from Amazon’s KDP for print copies and e-book copies. (You might have to create your own account in order to get them.)

I promptly purchased Adobe Photoshop (though it took years of trial and error to really produce something worthwhile).

And I’ve been researching marketing strategies ever since.

All of those experiences have taught me – sometimes the hard way – what kind of person can truly succeed as a self-published author.

You’ve got to be confident enough to go for it yet humble enough to acknowledge what you don’t know. You should be stubborn enough to not quit but flexible enough to admit when you need a different approach.

And you might want to start saving up some money as soon as you can. Money for buying your own books, setting up marketing opportunities… and taking care of this step that should come before both.

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