November 2012 marked the four year anniversary of my leap into self-publishing. When I published my first title way back in 2008, I didn't know what a Kindle was, no one read digital books yet, and self-publishing was about as cool as a canker sore.
At the time, the only thing I had to show for my writing was a computer full of stories and a binder full of rejections. I taught during the day, worked for a catering company on the weekends, and wrote as often as possible. I did what writers were "supposed to do":
Send out query letters
Wait for responses
Cross fingers and toes
Writing wasn't paying the bills, and I had two young children to provide for. I'd read a bunch of Jim Cramer books on options trading after which I convinced myself I could figure it out. I wasn't terrible at it, but I wasn't that good either. I'd managed to skim a bit of a profit trading stock on Marvel Studios when it announced it would create an Iron Man movie.
One day my wife read an article in a local paper about a writer who'd self-published a book using a print on demand service. She convinced me it was time to stop investing in stock options based on comic book character movie hunches and start investing in my writing. I took my Iron Man money and invested it in self-publishing. As usual, my wife was right.
When my book, Sweet Farts (don't judge, kids love it), released in November 2008, my wife and I crossed our fingers and hoped we'd be lucky enough to make our money back some day. We never dreamed that Sweet Farts would hit the Amazon Humorous Bestsellers list by February 2009 and stay there for four years running! At the time, I couldn't have imagined that in only four year's time I'd have eight titles out in the U.S., half a dozen foreign deals, and film offers for my books.
Last year, I launched my new series, School Is A Nightmare. I wanted to write a fun series for kids and bring titles to market quickly. Partnering with Createspace for the book creation services and KDP to reach my readers digitally has been the perfect combination. I've utilized free promotions, participated in the lending library and released an omnibus edition called Quadzilla to help expand the reader base for the series. I'll release several more titles in the series this fall.
I've found that more and more kids are reading digitally on Kindle and Kindle apps. Self-publishing the series allows me to provide content to readers when I want and without delays. The ease of working with Createspace and KDP helps me experiment with new ideas and keep up with a rapidly changing market.
Going forward, I see myself self-publishing some titles and traditionally publishing others. The next installment of my School Is A Nightmare series is in edits right now at Createspace, I just signed a deal for a fun new series with a traditional publisher, and I have several titles completed and ready to go. The most exciting thing about right now is that when I'm writing a book, I know it will be released. I no longer have the dread that the work may never see the light of day.
The days of crossing my fingers and toes are over. I've also given up trading stock options. Self-publishing proved to be a better investment offering very low risk and extraordinarily high reward. I guess those Jim Cramer books paid off after all.
"KDP gave me all the tools and information I needed to get each of my books in front of the right audience."
Seymour Simon, author of the Planet series for children
I started writing professionally while I was still teaching and serving as Science Department Chair in a large New York City public junior high school -- nearly 40 years ago. My career as an author began by writing a monthly science supplement for Scholastic magazines, and I soon began writing science books for children. Many of my books, like my popular Einstein Anderson: Science Geek series, are based on the projects I was doing every day in my classroom. Eventually, I had so many writing contracts that I retired from teaching to write full time. At this point I have written so many books that I am not sure of the exact count....but I know it is getting close to 300!
I speak often to groups of children and they ask me how long it takes to write a book. I always answer this way: Abraham Lincoln (who was very tall) was constantly asked: "How tall are you, Mr. President?" And he would always answer: "Just tall enough for my feet to reach the ground." So, I answer that by saying that it takes just long enough to finish the book. Of course, I have to study and do the research before I write a book, and often I've been reading about the subject for many years.
I have been interested in independent publishing ever since the first color tablets came out in 2010. It is clear to me that a color tablet like the Kindle Fire is an ideal delivery device for children's books, and we know that today kids - digital natives - love gadgets. So I immediately decided that I needed to deliver my books in digital form, as well as in print.
As of this writing I have 90 books in the Kindle Store. I have published 78 of those with KDP through my own digital publishing company, StarWalk Kids Media. I love the fact that KDP presents me the option to both update and republish some of my beloved science books that had gone out of print (like my Planet books) and also to write, design, and publish digital original books, of which I have 17 (like Why Do Puppies Do That?). I've always been very connected to kids and what excites them about science and it's great, as a writer, to be able to write books that I know children will love and reach that audience directly via self-publishing. And since I have published books for children of all ages, it's a big plus that the Kindle Store helps parents find books by their kids' age range. It's an exciting new era for authors!
"I'm pleased to know that the people behind Kindle are still hard at work trying to give writers, like myself, an opportunity and a voice."
A.J. Cosmo, author of Monsters A to Z
I joined the Kindle platform in the winter of 2011, though I have been writing and drawing in some capacity since the third grade. The biggest challenge to publication was my own self-doubt. This fear kept me from approaching agents and publishers with my work. Creative freedom, combined with immediate results, led me to the Kindle platform. It's said that Amazon removed the gatekeepers to publishing, which is partially true, but in reality it made the general public into the gatekeepers. I have learned over the past three years what people like about my work and that has allowed me to grow faster than would have been possible through traditional publishing.
Joining KDP allowed me to give away copies of my books and grow a fan base for each of my titles. It was practically a set it and forget it approach to publishing. However, things changed. As the service expanded and became more popular I found that I had to come out of my shell as well and "get behind" my books so to speak. Once the global Select Fund appeared, great things started to happen. Titles that hadn't seen any readers suddenly had an audience. Then things started to slow down and once again they changed. As Amazon grows we as writers are able to rely on readers stumbling upon us less. Now this shy writer, who was afraid of being rejected from an agent, has the courage to market himself as a full-fledged, successful, published writer and that couldn't have happened if I didn't start by publishing with Amazon.
With the advent of Kindle Unlimited I feel like we're on the verge of something spectacular. Whatever that may be, I'm pleased to know that the people behind Kindle are still hard at work trying to give writers, like myself, an opportunity and a voice.