peeps: James D. Best
James D. Best was president of Vista Software, The Scottsdale Center for Business Technology, and the Grand Circle Corporation. He was also AlliedSignal’s vice president of Worldwide Computing & Network Operations. Now he writes full time. The author of the Steve Dancy Western series, Tempest at Dawn (featured on The Glenn Beck Show) and more, James ghostwrote two books, wrote two regular magazine columns and numerous journal articles. He lives in Arizona with his wife, Diana, and is currently working on the latest Steve Dancy, The Return.
How James Got Started Self-Publishing
While his agent shopped his first novel, Tempest at Dawn, a historical novel about the Constitutional Convention, James wrote a Western. He sent it to his agent, who didn’t want it, saying that an advance on a Western wouldn’t make a decent down payment on a small Korean car. So, while continuing to follow the traditional path with Tempest, James proceeded to then self-publish The Shopkeeper, the first in his Steve Dancy series.
It was a good decision. “The series has done exceptionally well,” says James. “Although the series remains self-published for print and ebook formats, the books have been picked up by traditional publishers for audio and large print. Now I have six self-published books and I couldn’t be more pleased with the path I’ve selected.”
“Traditional publishers work at a glacial pace,” he laments, and the speed of self-publishing was very much to his liking. “A self-published book that moves through all the proper steps will make it to market in less than half the time of traditional publishing.”
The control over the product that self-publishing gives the author is another advantage that James is quick to point out. “My first book was published by Wiley and it ended up far different from the book I intended.”
Self-Publishing Tips and Observations
- “Many people claim traditional publishing’s marketing prowess is a huge advantage, but they never mention that the big houses do very little for unknown authors who haven’t committed a high-profile felony. When it comes to marketing, you’re on your own whether you traditionally publish or self-publish.”
- “If you write genre fiction, your best choice is self-publishing because marketing is relatively easy. Genre enthusiasts will find you.”
- “Self-publishing is also great for nonfiction where you have the knowledge, but not the eminent credentials required by traditional publishers.”
- “When you self-publish, don’t assume your manuscript is print-ready. A traditional publisher would hire professional editing to polish your work. You should do the same.”
- “Another area where you probably need professional support is copywriting. To attract readers you’ll need an enticing book description. This is more like advertising than narrative writing and many authors underestimate the difficulty in doing this critical task properly.”
- “Nearly 60% of my sales are Kindle, but over 75% of my profit is from ebooks. The trend toward ebooks remains strong, but has slowed a bit from the wild pace of the last few years.”