On Successful Self-Publishing: An Interview with Kim Bookless


Kim Bookless

Kim Bookless

Kim Bookless is a publishing consultant, writer, and editor. She is a member of Chicago Women in Publishing’s Executive Committee and leads the Chicago Self-Publishing Group, which provides its members with free educational programs and resources to help them explore the dynamic world of self-publishing. Kim will be one of our panelists at March Writers Night Out: Secrets of Smart Self Publishing on Monday, March 3.

CWC: How did you get involved with authors that wanted to self-publish?

A few years ago, while helping two writers edit their book proposal before they submitted it to literary agencies, I realized that I loved working with authors and helping to bring books to life. I chose to work with self-publishing authors, rather than those pursuing a book deal with a traditional publishing company, because there is much more opportunity in self-publishing. The traditional publishing industry has been in turmoil for decades and fewer book deals are being awarded each year, but self-publishing is accessible to everyone. My job as a publishing consultant is to help authors produce the best book possible while staying within their budgets.

CWC: Why do you think self-publishing is losing its stigma?

Self-publishing has become incredibly popular over the past several years and is losing its stigma for two main reasons: 1. Authors realize that self-publishing can be a much better option than spending years pursuing a book deal that might never materialize, and 2. Authors are producing better self-published books.

People used to think that authors who self-published did so only because they could not get book deals from traditional publishers. That is sometime the case, but many authors now prefer to self-publish because it allows them to retain the rights to their books, gives them more creative freedom and control over the publishing process, and enables them to keep their royalties rather than having to share them with publishing companies.

Over the years, self-publishing authors have grown much more savvy about the need to publish well-written, well-edited, and well-designed books. They understand that they are competing not only against other self-publishing authors, but also against traditionally published books that have been through rigorous editing and design processes. Proper editing and design do not guarantee success in the marketplace, but will make the book much more competitive.

CWC: What kind of self-published authors are role models for success?

Self-publishing authors are essentially entrepreneurs, so they’re well positioned to serve as role models in our increasingly entrepreneurial society. When we see a successful self-published author, we know we’re looking at someone who:

  • studies the market and educates himself or herself before jumping in
  • is a bit of a risk-taker who is willing to follow a different path to success
  • understands the need to produce an excellent product
  • understands why marketing and self-promotion is important


Want to hear more from Kim? Sign up for Secrets of Smart Self Publishing! Registration closes on Monday.

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