Self Publishing a Best Seller | Guest Post by Gary V Tenuta

My first self-publishing experience (The Ezekiel Code) was with Outskirts Press (a Print-On-Demand company) back in 2007. I researched and compared a lot of POD publishers before deciding to go with Outskirts Press. I  went with their most expensive package ($999) because it offered the most features and, being my first time out of the gate, I figured I could use all the help I could get.

"Ash" Expert cover by Gary V Tentua

Ash: Return of the Beast is Gary Val Tentua’s latest novel

It was a risky gamble for me because of the expense and I didn’t even know if I’d ever break even. Sales were very slow at first, of course. But I promoted the heck out of it, night and day, for weeks, months. Eventually the sales numbers started increasing from 1 or 2 copies per month to as many as 5 or 6 and it continued to grow.

This was just the paperback edition, which is all I had and the retail price for the book was quite expensive at $21.95. I was sure that was inhibiting the sales. But Kindle was getting to be a big deal around that time and I decided to pay Outskirts another $99 to produce a Kindle edition with a retail price of $4.95. That made a huge difference in sales and the 70% royalty was great. Before I knew it, I had a “best-seller” on my hands and it remained so in three amazon categories for over 57 weeks.

Those phenomenal sales were really due to two fortunate factors. One was the story itself. It was a fictional tale that involved the coming date of 12/21/12, the end of the Mayan calendar. It took me nearly 9 years to write the massive book which ended up being nearly 700 pages. I’d had the foresight to know that the Mayan calendar thing was going to be a huge social/cultural phenomenon and that the media would be all over it.

Turned out I was right. I happened to be watching the Montel Williams show one day and he interviewed a guest who had put up a website dedicated to everything about the end of the Mayan calendar. That interview sparked a tremendous surge in hits to that website. Hundreds of thousands and eventually millions of hits.

The owner of the site was offering ad space for only about $35 per month. So I created a banner ad for the site and my book sales took off like crazy. Then came the big Hollywood blockbuster movie, “2012”. That seemed to spark another huge surge in sales.

The key, for me, was that I had “tagged” my book on amazon with two main tags: “2012” and “Mayan Calendar”. I’d met a lot of other writers in an amazon discussion forum and  I asked them to please go to my book page and click my “Tags”. As you may know, every time someone clicks a “Tag”, the little number next to the Tag goes up one increment. Eventually I had so many tag clicks that it pushed my book up to the very top of the list of all other books with those same tags. That meant anyone using those tags as search words to find books about “2012”, would find my book up toward the top of the list.

So, to be honest, the sales of the book were due to circumstances other than the actual writing. The writing is filled with all the tell-tale signs of a first time author. I didn’t realize that until some negative reviews started popping up. I wanted to ignore those reviews but they kept nagging at me. When I finally admitted the legitimacy of some of the negative comments, I began getting serious about figuring out how more experienced authors go about their craft.

I learned a lot over the following couple of years and applied it all to my second novel which I published through amazon’s CreateSpace (paperback) and Kindle. The reviews seem to be reflecting the huge improvement in the writing as some have compared it to the likes of Stephen King, and others who write in a similar genre.

But… unllike the first book, this one is barely selling at all. In the past 12 months I’ve sold about 3 paperbacks at $12.95 and maybe a dozen Kindle editions at $3.99. So I guess it’s not always about how great the writing is, sometimes it’s about the subject matter.

Anyway, as far as self-publishing goes, I can’t see any advantage to being published by a traditional publisher. They do little or nothing when it comes to promotion of the book unless you happen to have a name in the business and already have a large following of readers. They lock the author into a contract and the author has little if any say when it comes to almost any aspect of the book, whether it’s the cover art, how it’s promoted, how it’s distributed, etc. And then they take the lion’s share of the money that comes from any of the sales and they offer the author a pittance of a royalty.

That’s not even to mention the fact that they won’t even look at your manuscript if it doesn’t come through an agent whom the author ends up having to pay if the publisher does accept the book. And then there’s the frustration of having to wait months (in some cases, a year or more) to even get a response from the publisher once they do recieve the manuscript. And even then the response is more likely than not to be a rejection letter. I mean, really, what’s the point? LOL

This was a guest post by Gary Tenuta

GaryCowboyHat2Gary’s latest novel, Ash: Return Of The Beast, is a supernatural serial killer chiller involving a Death-Metal rocker and was inspired by the mysterious disappearance of the funerary ashes of the notorious occultist, Aleister Crowley, whom the British press once labeled as “The Wickedest Man In The World”.

“Rivals the best I’ve ever read by Stephen King, Peter Straub, or Dean Koontz. Hell, Clive Barker would be proud of this one. Yes, it’s that good.” – Jeff Whelan

“It threw me for a literary loop, and I could NOT put this baby down!. The characters are very realistic… the plot is amazing. The twists in this story were terrific.” – J. Wall, photographer

“Filled with magick… at times drawing one into the evil.” – Ellen In Atlanta, reviewer

“An ending you will never see coming!” – Lila L. Pinord, author of Skye Dancer

Paperback and Kindle –


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