Guest Post – Sam Hooker: I’ve Made a Terrible Mistake

I said something stupid in an interview not too long ago: “I self-published my first novel, and that was a huge mistake.”

I have a lot of friends who are self-published authors, many of them very successful. I have a lot of respect for anyone in that business, and frankly I admire them. Why, then, did I say what I said?

Because it was true. For me, self-publishing was a huge mistake.

Luckily, I said it early in the conversation and the interviewer gave me a moment to stammer out an explanation that was a bit less offensive to my aforementioned friends.

I’m a traditionally published author. Black Spot Books does an astounding amount of work on my behalf, far more than I’d ever have even known to consider doing on my own. Editing, cover art, marketing copy, press releases, media placements, interior layout, printing, distribution—there’s a lot more, and frankly, it all terrifies me. I’m notoriously lazy, and that’s the point: I just want to be an author.

In order to be a successful self-published author, you’ve got to wear a lot of hats. Author, editor, artist, typesetter, marketer, publisher, publicist, and webmaster are just a few of them. The successful self-published authors that I know are real entrepreneurs. They have talent, desire, and enough time to get up to their elbows in all of these other disciplines. They wade gleefully through the murky waters of the industry that they’ve opted to challenge alone.

I would count myself very fortunate indeed to be one of these industrious types. Alas, I am not. I tried putting on a few of these hats in the name of retaining full control (and profit share) of my work, but I got overwhelmed almost immediately.

“Pandora!” I screamed in an altogether manly way, since no one can attest to the contrary. “How do you close this expletive-redacted box?”

I managed to put a decent cover on my first novel, which would never have happened if I’d relied on my own visual art skills. I was very lucky to come across Dragan Paunović on that score. I sold a few dozen copies of the book to friends and family, all of whom gave me five-star ratings and told me how great it was. That was nice, but I always wondered if a five-star review from my mom might be just a little bit biased.

Putting my work in a position to be read by complete strangers was a completely different ballgame, one which I eagerly wanted to play, but—to carry the sports metaphor a bit farther, which is also outside my comfort zone—I didn’t even know how to hold the bat. Or where the field was. Or the court, or whatever. I’m better at legal metaphors, so let’s say I was representing myself and had a fool for a client.

I am eternally grateful for the tireless effort that the women of Black Spot Books have poured into my work. They are the difference between a good story and a novel worth reading. We have what I consider the perfect arrangement: I arrange words in a clever order, and they take care of the rest.

I’m envious of anyone who can hold their own in the world of self-publishing. That takes talent, drive, and a lot of knowledge. I’ve decided to stick to my strengths and just write silly stories about despots and the goblins who tickle them.

To query, or not to query? That is a question that every writer must ask themselves. Where there once was a vast divide between traditional and “vanity” publishing is now a narrow field, verdant and teeming with opportunity. I salute anyone who charges off into that wilderness to seek their fortune, but it doesn’t sound like they get Netflix in the wilderness, and I have needs.

Sam Hooker


SamHookerSam writes darkly humorous fantasy novels about things like tyrannical despots and the masked scoundrels who tickle them without mercy. He knows all the best swear words, though he refuses to repeat them because he doesn’t want to attract goblins. He lives in California with his wife and son, who renew their tolerance for his absurdity on a per-novel basis.

You can buy Sam’s books at the following links:

Peril in the Old Country: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA

The Winter Riddle: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s