Self-publishing is not for everyone.

It’s not for the impatient.

It’s not for those dreaming of great successes.

Self-publishing is one of the hardest gigs to get into—that has been proven by hundreds (if not thousands) of authors who have self-published books. That’s not to say you cannot have great success, or even quick success, if you self-publish. It just won’t happen for most.

Ted Heller recently wrote an article for Salon complaining about his own self-publishing experience. Heller had three previous books published the traditional way. When his latest book West of Babylon, didn’t get a bite, he decided to go the self-publishing route.

After he sent emails and queries to newspapers and magazines looking to get his book reviewed, he rarely heard anything back, not even a “no.”

“By this time, I had already sent email to several National Public Radio shows (“Fresh Air,” “Weekend Edition,” etc.) trying to spread the word, and hadn’t gotten any return email from them. (NPR stands for, I now realize, No Possible Reply. They are dead to me now, and I only wish I was a frequent, generous donor so that way I could now stop donating to them.) When I finally found contact information for someone at the show I’d been on, they did email me back (within 24 hours, too) to politely tell me that they would not be having me back onto their show. But … that was actually great news! I cheered. Why? BECAUSE THEY HAD ACTUALLY GOTTEN BACK TO ME! EVEN TO TURN ME DOWN!”

Ted HellerHeller spent his 2,500 words on Salon complaining about the process. But I don’t think Heller realized he did it wrong. Self-publishing is not the same animal as traditional publishing.

Sure, a book is written (and re-written), and put out for the masses. But marketing to a digital community takes a digital sense, takes digital prowess. It’s not easy to be your own PR person, agent, or editor. But there are ways to learn how to do it better. There are online communities that help books get noticed by doing blog book tours, getting in touch with people who review self-published works online, promotion through social media and getting on Goodreads and similar sites.

Emails to book editors at newspapers? Probably not going to do it.

If you have already spent so many hours on your manuscript, it won’t hurt to take more hours studying the digital book world and learning from people who have already gone down this path.

Complaining about tactics that don’t work when they are not right for this arena is not the way to go.

At least he got his name out there and now people are aware of his book.


  1. I am not surprised at his lack of success with NPR. I have done many hundreds of radio interviews. Almost everyone I deal with is professional and pleasant, even when turning me down. Except NPR and its stations. Or should I say, it’s “running dogs.” For whatever reason, the NPR personnel seem to consider themselves above everyone else, are arrogant as hell, and occasionally outright dishonest. They are also uninterested in anything that doesn’t match their own liberal/leftist bias. As Stevh says above, the guy does need to buy a clue. But at least he is now clued in that NPR … heavily funded by our tax dollars … is worthless for him. I read that he stopped his sheeplike donating to NPR. So NPR, aka National Propaganda Radio, will have to find other suckers.

  2. Up to you how you handle publicity, Hiram, but do you really want to peddle your petty grudges and political bias around a forum like this? You’re doing a wonderful job of negative publicity for yourself right there. And if you have a grievance with how your tax dollars are spent, why not take it up with the ballot box? Or move to Ireland where your creativity comes tax free?

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