peeps: John R. Kess
From Minneapolis, Minnesota, author John R. Kess writes thrillers and young adult novels. He calls himself “a writer with an engineering problem,” having graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S. in Industrial Engineering. Not that you can tell from the two books he’s written and released so far.
The first, Finding Hannah, is a Young Adult thriller about a 15-year-old boy searching for his kidnapped sister on the Appalachian Trail. His second, Elly’s Ghost, is a thriller with a protagonist who’s an ex-Marine from Afghanistan trying to save a pop star from baddies in the Montana wilderness. Both have proven quite popular and been well-received. John is currently hard at work on his third novel, and its likely a good bet that it’ll do pretty well on the market too.
Not too shabby for a dude with an engineering problem, huh?
How John Got Started Self-Publishing
John had gotten himself involved with a writer’s group before his first novel was ready. That’s where the idea of taking the self-publishing route from the get-go came from and managed to get itself lodged into his psyche quite firmly, with several of the group’s members having already tried their hand at it. It is also likely where John managed to figure out with a minimum of time and hassle — fortunately not from first-hand experience — that traditional publishers “would take my rights and price my ebook way too high,” hence his lack of interest in that option, which really not too long ago was pretty much the only way to go.
Well, considering how highly both of his titles have ranked on Amazon’s Paid Best-Sellers listing, it looks like John sure made the right choice!
Self-Publishing Tips and Observations
- “The likelihood of success with a traditional publisher as a brand new author is so small and you control none of the process.”
- “I really liked that Amazon shares so much of the profit, gives you full control, and that they really put some thought into how they can help authors sell books. I can’t imagine signing up with a traditional publisher.”
- “Be sure to have a polished book before publishing it. There’s a saying in the industry that when you finish your first draft of your novel, you are 10% done with the process of completing your book. When I first heard it, I thought it was a joke. It’s not!”
- “Learn how to self edit. Join a writer’s group that will give you honest and constructive feedback.”
- “Find an editor you trust and then listen to them. You need an editor who will challenge you and your writing. A good editor will re-read your novel several times as you make changes.”
- “Get a long list of beta readers in your genre. Have them read your novel and give you feedback before you publish. This will take months, but a polished novel is the difference between good reviews and bad, and bad reviews kill books.”
- “With the exception of the cover art, learn how to create and upload your ebook yourself. There are free guides online that will walk you through this. I’ve had to make several changes to my books and if I had to pay someone every time I made a change, it would have added up quickly to some serious dollars.”