peeps: Marion G. Harmon
Born in Salt Lake City to a family in the military and named after his great-grandfather, Marion, and father, George, Marion G. Harmon spent much of his formative years traveling from post to post “at the whim of the U.S. military.” He lived at places like Stuttgart, Germany, and Sydney, Australia, before settling in Las Vegas, Nevada. Along the way he picked up degrees in literature and history and became a financial planner.
Oh, and he also writes popular novels about superheroes.
In 2011, Marion released his first novel, Wearing the Cape. He has since followed that up with three more novels set in the same world. Marion’s books, which have been called “the gold-standard of superhero fiction,” spent much of 2011 and 2012 atop Amazon’s list of best-sellers in its Superhero Comics & Graphic Novels category — and they’re prose, not comics! They consistently pop up among the Top 20 to this day.
How Marion Got Started Self-Publishing
After Marion posted the first 7,000 words of Wearing the Cape (WtC) on YouWriteOn.com, a review-sharing site, an English author critiqued it and suggested he look into self-publishing instead of taking the traditional agent-publishing house contract route. So Marion did.
After due research and analysis (remember, he’s a financial planner!), he published WtC through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, selling it for only 99 cents. He said he did it so he “would stop rewriting it.”
Well, it took off. With very high marks and positive reviews from readers (WtC maintains a 4.5 star Amazon rating), in six months Marion took his royalties and commissioned much nicer covers. He also raised his prices, charging more regular book prices.
Did it work? Looks like it — Marion now lives off the income from his first three books and writes full-time.
Self-Publishing Tips and Observations
- “Today the Internet provides tools we have never seen before; sites like Youwriteon.com allow you to show your work to dozens of other writers who don’t know you and won’t care about your feelings. You can form writing groups with members from around the country and overseas. Freelance editing is a burgeoning service industry now available to new writers, and sites like Deviantart.com can connect you with talented artists for coverwork.”
- “When you are ready to publish, the Internet is full of bloggers who will be happy to read and review your novel for their book blogs, and they will have 5 to 5,000 followers. You can run promotions through sites like Goodreads. Companies like Createspace will allow you to inexpensively publish Print On Demand editions of your ebooks for readers who want a paperback copy in their hands.”
“But even with all these tools, you must first write a good book. The Internet allows us to bypass the traditional gatekeepers — agents and publishers — to bring our stories directly to the public, but there is a downside. Amazon is full of $.99 books that are bought five or six at a time and never finished. Readers are willing to invest a dollar and a few minutes in a new author, and just as willing to stop reading if he doesn’t deliver.”
“The upside is that, if you give readers a good experience, you can build a wide fanbase and loyal readership without putting a copy of your story on a single bookstore shelf!”