peeps: Gary Hansen

Indie author Gary HansenWordpreneur Peeps logoAuthor Gary Hansen wrote his thriller, Wet Desert, while living in Mission Viejo, California, where for twenty years he worked as an electrical engineer and where he often visited the Colorado River on weekends.

A true product of the West, Gary is an avid outdoorsman, spending as much time as he can skiing, water skiing, dirt biking, hiking and camping. An emeritus SCUBA Instructor, he has gone diving all over the world.

He was raised on a dairy farm in Cache Valley, Utah, in the small town of Trenton (pop. 450). He recently returned to Utah and now lives in Kaysville with his family.

How Gary Got Started Self-Publishing

Wet Desert by Gary HansenWhen Gary finished Wet Desert, he was thinking “Bestseller Lists,” not “self-publishing.” After doing the traditional search for an agent, he landed one, but after two years of not getting a contract, he decided to try his hand at self-publishing it. “So at least my mom could read my book,” he laughs. With its high page count, Wet Desert was prohibitively expensive to produce through most of the print-on-demand (POD) options available then, so he self-published the old fashioned way: pre-printing a garage full of books. “My first printing was 2700 books,” he remembers, “which was grossly optimistic for self-publishing. But, I did well and sold them all. I’ve printed twice more.”

About two years after Wet Desert first came out, he finally published a Kindle edition. “I can’t believe I waited so long to do Kindle,” he says. “I priced it at $0.99 to get exposure. It got great reviews, and kept climbing the ratings. Exactly a year after the Kindle edition was launched, it topped out at number 23 on the overall Kindle Best-Seller list, and spent 35 days in the top 100.”

A few months ago, Gary also used Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) to find a narrator and produce an audiobook edition, which he then self-published on Amazon’s Audible.

Self-Publishing Observations and Tips

  • “Kindle leveled the playing field. It would be virtually impossible for a self-published guy like me to get noticed trying to market against the big boys in bookstores across the country. But, being able to set my own price got some initial sales, then good reviews helped it grow until I was on the best-seller list where I always knew I belonged.”
  • “When my next book is done (I’m s-l-o-w — Wet Desert took 15 years), I won’t wait two years to self-publish. In fact, I’m not sure I will wait at all.”
  • “For new authors, Kindle is awesome. But eventually, your story will need to stand on its own. If it gets good reviews, the sky is the limit; bad reviews, and it will tank.”

Check out Gary Hansen’s book, Wet Desert, on Amazon. You can also learn more about Gary by visiting his official website,

Originally published: February 20, 2013