Damon Stentz was born in New Orleans and raised in Thibodaux, Louisiana, near Bayou Lafourche. He is an attorney who has worked primarily in criminal law both as a prosecutor and in criminal defense. Damon has loved writing from the time he was able to pick up a pen (or crayon) and write words on a page. After many years, he finally decided to publish one of his works. The Kraken Slayer is his first self-published novel.
This is a very interesting time for the book business. So much is changing. The query letter-to-agent approach is still by far the preferred approach, but certainly not the only approach. Self-publication is now a viable contender with the literary agent market. Agents don’t like to hear that, but they know it’s true. Once they hear your book is self-published, some (not all) agents will write it off as unmarketable. That’s not a fair treatment, in my opinion. There are a lot of really bad self-published authors out there, yes, but there are also a lot of really good ones. I could say the same about authors with agents, as well.
I’ve come to the conclusion that whoever gets picked up by an agent and who doesn’t is mostly arbitrary. Before I self-published my novel, I did the query letter song and dance for years. Out of my hundreds of rejection letters, some actually went on and on with praises for my manuscript, only to end with, “but it’s not what we’re looking for at this time.” I therefore would like to tell all the unpublished writers out there to not be daunted by anyone who tries to scare you from the idea of self-publishing. If you’re trying to land an agent, by all means, don’t give up; but self-publishing is not going away, and it’s getting bigger. What it needs, however, is more legitimacy and respect from the writing community, and that begins with the self-published author.
If you want to be a successful writer, you have to know the business. Know what your target audience is looking for, but at the same time, be unique. Don’t write another Twilight, please. To know where the market’s going, you need to read what other authors are writing. Talk to readers and see what they like. Take seminars to hone your craft. Your education is never complete.
If you’re self-publishing, chances are you don’t have a publicity staff employed, so get ready to do a lot of work. If you get your book printed but do nothing to advertise it, no one will ever know about it. You need to make use of the media: newspaper, radio, Internet. Get some posters and push cards printed. Organize some book signings. If there’s a book fair in your area, ask to speak there and/or do a book signing. In short, get your book and your face in as many places as possible. Promoting your book is very similar to running for public office.
I think the one thing that hurts self-published authors the most is their lack of commitment to their writing. Selling your book is a time-consuming endeavor, but all that hard work and effort will prove to the rest of the industry that you’re not an amateur, but a professional writer who can stand toe to toe with the best of them. And when your writing is good, and the book looks good, and you can make it available to a large audience, no one will even care that you’re self-published.