After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book And Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.

Author Karen Inglis breaks down the strategies and tactics you need to generate awareness and sales for your self-published book.


Half-asleep on my commute home from work, the train jostled and dislodged in my brain an idea for a middle-grade reader book. I thought it would be fun to write (and fun for kids to read), so as soon as I got home, I ran straight to my computer and got right down to…doing nothing.

Then 15 years later, a global pandemic hit and I was out of shows to stream on Netflix. That idea was still bouncing around, so I finally started typing and doodling.

The result is a book I wrote and illustrated called Wendell the Werewolf, a funny (hopefully) adventure filled with gross-out jokes and other silly stuff.

Like many authors who find themselves typing the words "The End," I sat back satisfied, thrilled with myself. And then a creeping dread overtook me. Okay, now what? I wondered.

Publish it and become a bazillionaire, obviously, I told myself.

My first inclination was to try to go the traditional route: Pitch it to 100 agents, never hear back from most of them, pray to baby Jesus someone likes it, and if one of them does, then they pitch it to 100 publishers, more praying to baby Jesus, etc., etc.

As fun as that all sounds, after waiting 15 years to create this book, I couldn't wait another minute to get it out there. The increasingly loud groans I emit while bending down to tie my shoe remind me that I'm not getting any younger.

So I decided to self-publish Wendell. Happily, in the years between having this idea and actually getting it done, the stink of self-publishing has dissipated to a considerable degree. Once, a self-published book had that "straight-to-VHS movie" vibe, with the added visual of the author stapling together Xeroxed copies at Kinkos.

But these days, there are several platforms and companies that give you a good-looking product that looks and feels like a real book.

After exploring different options, I went with Amazon Kindle Direct. I did this for two main reasons: 1. It is easy enough for a dumbass like me to use and 2. They allow you to print copies on demand. This eliminates the financial risk that comes with having to pay for 1,000 copies — not to mention the heartbreak of boxes of unsold books reminding you of your failure every time you go in the garage to get the lawn mower out.

I'm breezing through these parts of the process (the writing and publishing parts), because I want to get to the question that many self-published and even traditionally published authors face once they have that book they've been thinking about for more than a decade in their hands: Now what? Part 2.

See, once you have your book published and listed on Amazon or your website, you might think that the sales will just start rolling in. (Spoiler alert: They don't.)

As much as you have killed yourself with long hours getting this thing written, edited, and laid out, your work is just beginning. I wanted some advice on what to do next with my book (and by extension, let you know what to do next with your book) so I reached out to an expert who really, really knows what she is talking about.

Karen Inglis is an author who has written many books, including her self-published children's megahit, The Secret Lake, which has sold half a million copies worldwide to date. Inglis has written several award-winning books for kids of varying ages, which you can find on her website, and she kindly shared her hard-earned knowledge of the publishing game in her immensely informative How to Self-Publish and Market a Children's Book (Second Edition).