The Five Most Surprising Things I Have Learned From Self-Publishing

Ethan Jones self-published Arctic Wargame, the first in his Justin Hall spy thriller series, in May 2012. Since then, he’s published three more books, including Double Agents, which is out this December. Through Amazon’s book store and Kindle, the Justin Hall series has sold over 10,000 copies.

He joins me Sunday, November 24 to talk about what’s become one of the biggest trends in publishing. Together with author Marty Chan, who’s been on both sides of coin, having put out books through mainstream imprints and his own, we will cover the ins and outs of self-publishing. The event begins at 1:30 in the Stanley Milner Library’s new Makerspace. As a bonus, we’re following the event with a demo of the library’s new Espresso Book Machine. 

In the meantime, Jones shared with me the five most surprising things he’s learned from self-publishing.

1. Self-publishing is a lot of hard work and I have to do much of it by myself

“As a self-published author without the backing of a publishing agency, I have to do many things by myself, things that do not fall in the realm of writing. I am responsible for finding beta readers, proofreaders/editors, cover art designers, and for making arrangements for promotional and marketing campaigns, blog tours, giveaways, and so on. Some of these services can be hired out, but still I have to find the right people in order to get results.

2. I need to approach self-publishing as a professional

“I started self-publishing my stories so that they could entertain readers, and soon enough I found that readers can easily tell if a self-published writer is an amateur or someone who has put some serious thought into this process and has a professional approach toward it. I have to convey an image of professionalism in my work, beginning with the title, the blurb, the cover, the sample writing — in short: with the entire book or series.”

3. I need to write more books and fast

“It is extremely difficult to build my brand as a writer if I have only one book or if I only release one book each year, like in the traditional publishing industry. I already have three books and three short stories published and the fourth book in the Justin Hall spy thriller series is coming out this December. In order to attract readers and keep them satisfied, I need to write more books in the series they love and do it as fast as I can.”

4. I have the freedom to set my own schedule

“One of the beauties of self-publishing is the freedom to work for myself, without any deadlines but those imposed by me. Depending on my life circumstances, I can set the time of the release of my next work, along with the daily number of words needed to reach that goal. There is no boss in self-publishing, which means that I need to motivate myself to keep writing and keep publishing.

5. Things change very rapidly in this industry and I must adapt

“The self-publishing industry has come a long way since three or four years ago and some of stigma surrounding it has started to disappear. More and more writers who were published traditionally are making the jump to self-publishing, sometimes with hybrid deals (self-publishing electronically but publishing in hardcover and paperback through a traditional publisher). As things change,  I need to keep abreast of these changes, learn, and adapt, so that I can ride all waves and survive all storms.”

Ethan Jones is the author of the popular Justin Hall spy thriller series. The first book in this series, ARCTIC WARGAME, came out in May 2012. The second novel, TRIPOLI’S TARGET, was released in October 2012. The third one, FOG OF WAR, came out on June 4, 2013. Ethan has also published three short stories and maintains an active blog at He is a lawyer by trade, and he lives in Canada with his wife and son.

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