Today I'm interviewing author Dustin Kuhlman, who has recently released his debut novel, Warned. I wanted to pick his brain about his self-publishing experience. But first, a few words about his book:
Warned is a science fiction with an ecological bent. Scientist Jon Castel is part of a team charged with preserving human life in outer space, since global warming is bringing earth to an imminent end. Thrown together on a team with an antagonistic ex-girlfriend, and an impossible mission, he's about to make the greatest discovery mankind has ever known.
DMA: What's next for you: mainly marketing, or are you starting another novel?
DK: Marketing can be a two or three year process. I will be spending a few years on marketing. I will write more novels in the years to come.
DMA: What was the decision-making process for you? Did you try traditional publishing, or did you plan to self-publish from the start?
DK: While I was finishing up Warned I was drafting query letters and a synopsis along with everything else you need to publish a book. The more I researched the more I started to think about self-publishing. There are many negatives of getting a publisher, from making about $1 per book, having to do most marketing on your own, losing control of editing what stays what goes, and the fact that it would have probably added one or two years delay to my release date. I decided to keep control of my content and self-publish. I never contacted one agent or publishing company. There are only two reasons why I would try to get published. If you are unable to afford the costs involved with self-publishing from editors and cover designers, etc. The second reason would be the prestige of getting picked up by a major publisher.
DMA: Your book is available as a print book and an ebook. Would you take that route again, or go completely digital?
DK: It is a very unique time right now to publish a book. The market seems to be nearly 50/50 when it comes to print and digital books. For the next five or ten years I would go both routes, despite the fact that ebooks are starting to outsell print books. There is something nice about holding the physical book in your hands after years of work. Ebooks on the other hand are much cheaper to publish.
DMA: What were/are your biggest hurdles? What do you know now, that you wish you'd realized earlier in the process?
DK: There are many things I wished I’d known before I started this process. What stands out the most is submitting a “stock up request” to Amazon about two weeks before my release date. Amazon orders books from the author with an algorithm, in other words there are not people sending you orders, they are computers. I ran out of stock on my release date and it remained out of stock for over a week. I felt like I missed some orders because some people won’t order something that is out of stock. Another benefit for a stock up request is shipping prices. Using media mail is great, if you can send many copies at once it is much better. To send one book media mail runs about $2.60, to send 24 books runs around $10. Amazon already keeps 55% of sales so keeping shipping prices low will help maximize profits.
DMA: Two of the biggest criticisms of self-published books are poorly designed covers, and books full of editing errors. What steps did you take to make sure your book stood out?
DK: Since this was my first book and I was very passionate about it, I decided to contact a famous cover artist and find a great editor too. The internet was essential in this search. I was able to negotiate a lower price for the cover artist, since I was a self-publishing author. It wasn’t cheap but I felt it was a good deal. After all, he had designed the covers for many famous authors and worked on movies such as Star Wars and I,Robot.
Dustin Kuhlman was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska and studied at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Growing up he loved to draw and always thought drawing and producing art would be his creative outlet. Around his 24th birthday, through unusual circumstances, he found his calling to write while living in Las Vegas. He currently lives and writes in Colorado Springs at the foot of Pikes Peak. Now 28, with his first novel finished, Dustin hopes to write many more books in various genres. He puts high importance on self-education and learning, whether it is literature, philosophy, science, or the human condition. He enjoys quotes and studying the great thinkers of mankind from Eratosthenes and Einstein to Voltaire and Thoreau and always considers himself a student of the world. Find out more about Kuhlman at his website.
Do you have a question for Dustin? Leave it in the comments, and Dustin will answer it.
I'll choose one commenter at random to win a copy of his book (sorry, US only)