Sunday, May 22, 2011

I'm Self-Publishing My Debut Novel. I've Got an Agent. It's Madness.


I'm very excited to announce that my debut thriller, The Jackpot, is now available as an electronic book (eBook). The book is currently available at Amazon for the Kindle, (Nook), and Smashwords (an eBook distributor with files compatible for many other e-readers).

And now that you've seen the dead-sexy cover, you're probably thinking, "ooh-la-la, let me check out the virtual back of this book and find out what it's all about!"

And, as luck would have it, I've given you the back of the book right here! You can read it in the comfort of your unmentionables while sipping your cocktail of choice!

$415 million.

That's how much janitor Julius Wheeler has won in the record-breaking SuperLotto jackpot, and that's what's got him, ticket in hand, looking for advice from big-firm attorneys Samantha Khouri and Carter Pierce. But Pierce, a man riddled with more problems than he can count, devises his own plan for Julius' ticket - to steal it.

After witnessing a violent confrontation that leaves her holding the ticket, Samantha Khouri will risk everything to return it to its rightful owner. But Pierce, Samantha's nothing-to-lose boss, isn't the only one with his eye on Julius' fortune. A homicidal mercenary has been hired to hunt down the ticket at all costs, and he will stop at nothing to find it.

And as her pursuers close in, Samantha can't help but think about showing up at lottery headquarters, smiling for the camera, and walking away with the richest lottery jackpot in American history.

You can read the first chapter here.

So that's the Four-One-One on the book, and perhaps that's all you need or want to know.


First, be forewarned: the rest of this post is pretty long, and looking back at it, it's probably a teensy bit self-indulgent. But I wrote it because I've thought of little else in the past two months. And I think people, especially writers, might be interested in my decision to self-publish my debut novel, even though I have a wonderful agent who knows a thing or three about selling books to publishers here and throughout the known universe.

First, what do you mean you’re self-publishing?

I am running the whole show. Instead of trying to sell the book to a publishing company, I’m acting as my own publisher and have decided to sell the book exclusively as an eBook through Amazon, Barnes & Noble (version coming soon), and Smashwords (another eBook distributor) (version coming soon). I contracted out the cover design, the editing, and the e-book formatting (so it looks all nice and pretty on your e-reader). I’ll also be running the publicity and marketing. It’s all on me.

OK, why are you self-publishing?

I am trying to build my writing business. My product is my writing, whether it's delivered via a blog post, a Tweet, an animated video, or my fiction. And to build my business, I need to take advantage of every opportunity that comes before me.

And after discussing this with my agent, I’ve decided that self-publishing The Jackpot as an eBook now is the best way to reach a wide audience now, and hopefully, the best way to build my writing business.

As you are probably aware, the e-reader and eBook market is growing like crazy and will only continue to grow as the prices of the e-readers drop. Two years ago, Kindles and other e-readers sold for about $300. I predict by Christmas, they'll be close to $100. I read several books on my iPod’s Kindle app before I even owned a Kindle.

Many authors have self-published their eBooks, and a number are finding success in doing so. Amanda Hocking, a young novelist from Minnesota, self-published several books in the last year, and in January 2011 alone, she sold 450,000 copies of her eBooks. She recently signed a four-book deal reportedly worth $2 million (which, interestingly, will put her work in a bookstore for the first time ever, despite the fact that she's made about $1 million writing fiction).

This is pretty amazing, given that just a couple years ago, self-publishing was a dirty word, the final refuge for writers who couldn't get published "the real way." I admit that I once thought that. All that has changed. If you had told me even a year ago that the first thing I would do upon signing with an agent would be to turn around and self-publish my book, I'd have thought you were batshit crazy.

I'm confident that e-publishing will be a big part of the future. I believe in eBooks, regardless of who publishes them. I firmly believe that self-published books can be as good as books published by traditional publishers.

Here's the other thing, a more personal thing. When I've made bad decisions about this or that in the past, I've had this gut feeling that I was about to make a bad decision, and then I made the decision anyway. I have that similar gut feeling now about NOT doing this. I'm pretty sure I'd really regret not doing it.

Why aren't you trying to sell it to one of the regular publishing companies?

First, I have nothing against traditional/legacy/corporate publishing. But I'm personally in a position where publishing now is better, and I have that option. It's the right decision for me.

I believe that self-publishing The Jackpot as an eBook gives me the best opportunity to reach a wide audience with this book right now. My videos are still fresh in people's minds. They still get about 2,000 hits a day. If we sold the book to a publisher today (if we sold it at all, let alone quickly), The Jackpot probably would not be on shelves until late 2012, and by then, I might have lost my online momentum.

In essence, I am making a calculated business decision. I want to be a successful fiction writer, so I need to make the decisions that will best help me build a successful fiction-writing business.

Don't you want to see your debut novel in a bookstore?

I addressed this in a blog post a while ago, and since I wrote it, I've been thinking a lot about the idea of seeing my book in a bookstore.

And then it hit me -- for a long time (in fact, basically until about 18 months ago), if your book wasn't in a bookstore, you weren't going to be a financially successful fiction writer. But it's no longer a prerequisite to success. The electronic reader is a new delivery system that allows fiction writers to make a living without seeing their books in a bookstore. And if I had to choose between earning a living writing eBooks but never seeing my book in print, or seeing my book in a bookstore but not making a living, I'd choose eBook every time. I want to write. Plain and simple.

Would you be doing this if you weren't the "So You Want To..." video guy?

An excellent question. The truth is that I don't know. I know this much: I wouldn't have an agent if it weren't for the videos. I wouldn't have received the media coverage if it weren't for the videos. I wouldn't have 1,000+ followers across the social-media-sphere if it weren't for the videos. As of right now, my videos have amassed nearly 2 million hits. So I feel like I might be well-positioned to find success pursuing this route. 

Let's say I hadn't done the videos. I'd be reading all these stories about writers selling thousands of eBooks with no background, no platform, and I'd have thought -- hey, why couldn't I do that? So, yes, very possibly, I would be doing this.

But here's the thing -- I am the "So You Want To..." video guy. And I'm a lot happier to be taking this step with my videos plowing the road ahead. I am very fortunate to have built up this audience. I am thrilled that I'm a little slice of your weekly media pie. And I really hope that if you've liked what you've seen to date, you'll want to see what else I can do.

Writing novels is what this has always been about for me. I love writing books, and I hope to continue doing so for as long as I can. I hope that my books entertain you as my favorite books have entertained me. I hope my books are as well received as my videos. I hope I can show you that I'm capable of telling a really good story. (I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.)

How much do you expect me to shell out for this thing? Perhaps you've noticed that the economy is struggling?

I've set the price at $2.99.

Why $2.99?

First, I think it's a very good price for a good, full-length novel. Second, it's the minimum price that authors can set for their books and take advantage of Amazon's maximum royalty rate. For those reasons, $2.99 appears to be the sweet pricing spot that many self-published authors have settled on. Moreover, it puts books written by me (and other self-pubbed authors) at a pricing advantage over eBooks published by the "real" publishing companies.

There's another reason, too. I understand the psychological aspect of buying a book that exists only in digital form. Something you can hold, like a paperback book? Sure, you'll pay $9.99 for a paperback, and accordingly, you're probably willing to buy the eBook at $9.99. A book that only exists in digital form? That's a tougher sell at $9.99. But $2.99 for a good novel? That's less than the price of a fast-food value meal, and it hopefully will attract more readers.

In other words, I'm hoping you're in the mood for a good beach read, and hey, what's $2.99, right?


Why isn't it free like some other eBooks on Amazon (or other e-retailer)?

Look, I'll be honest. I can't make a living doing this unless I make money. I spent a couple thousand hours writing The Jackpot. I believe my work has value. And $2.99 is a heck of a good deal for a 335-page novel, if I do say so myself.

Are you going to make $1 million like Amanda Hocking did?

Hell, I hope so. You know how much those refills for my Keurig coffeemaker cost?

Fine. Can I read a sample first? I'm not making any promises.

Yes. I invite you to download a free sample to your device and see what you think.

Aren't you just unloading your unpublishable backlist to make a quick buck?

Hells no. Absolutely not. I'm very, very proud of The Jackpot, and I would not be publishing it if I didn't think (know) it was worth your valuable time. Bottom line -- I think it's a really good book (as did my legion of cold-blooded beta readers). As further proof of that, I will tell you this. There is a complete manuscript trapped deep on my hard drive, Hannibal-Lecter-style, and it will never, ever see the light of day. Ever.

Wasn't there a movie last summer called Lottery Ticket about, well, a valuable lottery ticket?

Yes. And when I first heard about it while it was still in production (AFTER I'd finished writing the book), I almost threw up in my mouth. But after I looked into it, I discovered that Lottery Ticket is an urban comedy, and other than a similar opening incident (down-on-his-luck guy wins a huge lottery), the movie and the book have almost nothing in common.

What happens if you crash and burn and sell eight copies?

Then I crash and burn and sell eight copies. This could happen whether I self-publish or whether Ann had sold the book to Random House. Authors crash and burn all the time. It's a risk of the business. And it's got me eyeing the scotch pretty closely.

Is Ann still your agent?

Of course Ann is still my agent. I’m not the first writer with an agent to self-publish, nor will I be the last.

So how does J.A. Konrath's Kool-Aid taste?


Can I get a review copy for my blog?

Please e-mail me. We'll discuss.

Good news. I like you. I like your book. Can I help pimp it?

Awesome! Please share the link to this post, especially via Twitter and Facebook. It would be especially welcome if you could mention the videos -- I hope that people that liked the videos might also be interested in the book. And definitely, definitely, leave a customer review on Amazon and anywhere else you can think of.

Are you writing a new book? When will we see it?

Yes. It will take me about 9-12 months to write and edit it, and then Ann and I will huddle up and decide which way to go next.

So. That's pretty much it. If you read The Jackpot, please drop me a line and let me know what you think. Even better, if you like it, leave a review wherever you see fit (especially on Amazon – customer reviews are hugely important in driving sales). If you like The Jackpot, please let other people know about it. If you know someone who watched and liked any of my videos, please share this blog post with them.

I thank you for reading this. I thank you for your support. And I look forward to the future.

David Kazzie

P.S. -- Yes. I realize that self-publishing an eBook means that you could finish your book on December 4 and have it available for sale by Christmas. Just like Clueless Bear in the Novel video wanted. Irony's a bitch.


  1. Thanks for sharing your reasoning for this, David. I have to say, it gave me a lot to consider, as you make valid points I have not previously heard. I still have a long way to go before I have a finished product, but I'm trying to teach myself the importance of studying all available options. And, the more talented writers like yourself self-publish a novel, the more others will stop viewing it as a second place alternative. I think you're doing a lot to establish and promote the self-publishing industry while building yourself in the process.

    And honestly, why are those blasted Keurig refills so damn expensive?!

  2. Paul,

    Thanks for your comment.

    A year ago, I never, ever imagined that I'd be pursuing this route. I was the biggest skeptic there was. But I simply could not ignore the evidence any longer. Obviously, there are no guarantees, but I decided that it was the best move for me. And if it gives people more info to consider as they think about their options , so much the better.

  3. On Keurig: If I learned anything in business school, it's this: the real money isn't in the razor, it's in the blades. Applies to everything. Good luck David!

  4. Totally impressed. I hope you make a mint. I'm a-tweeting this!

  5. Hello new here! *waves*

    Came by via Ms Anita 'Awesome Sauce' Howard.

    Congrats and wow when it rains it pours no? Never too much good news though.

  6. LOL on the fruity coolaid comment. Hee. And I love how you interviewed yourself. Seriously though, YAY YOU. I'm looking forward to reading the book! ... Still need to decide what kind of eReader I want. Hum

  7. Jenny -- thanks for tweeting this!

    Sophie -- welcome -- just answered your Qs over on Anita's blog. Blogger finally working.

    Anita - I'm partial to the Kindle myself -- it's so compact, I basically take it everywhere -- but the Nook seems cool too, although I don't know how it measures up size-wise.

  8. Good luck to you, brother (he says metaphorically)!

  9. Moses -- thanks for the good wishes. I guess we'll see how it goes!

  10. This is fabulous, David. Congrats and wish you lots and lots of sales.

  11. Cassie,

    Thanks for the good wishes - I appreciate it!

  12. Good luck with it! I read the sample on my Kindle, and when it ended I didn't hesitate to click "Buy Now" :)

    For what it's worth, I think you're making a wise choice self-pubbing now while the videos are still hot. Sounds like a sound business decision to me.

  13. Shoshanna

    Thanks! It seemed like the right move. And I'm especially glad the sample impressed you enough to warrant reading the rest of the book.


  14. Hi David,

    I'm glad I discovered your blog via your YouTube videos. This was an excellent post, and you explained perfectly what a lot of us self-published authors are feeling, and what led us to self-publish in the first place.

    Looking forward to your future blog posts (and your future videos)!


  15. Scott, thanks for the comment -- Glad you enjoyed the post. I hope it helps people who are on the fence about self-pubbing, as I was myself for so long. Reading other bloggers' posts, like Victorine's, ultimately helped me decide.

  16. I think you're making the right decision here. Legacy publishers no longer have a monopoly on publishing good fiction. And to that I say 'It's about time'! Keep up the good work and I will be sure to check out your work...if you'll check out mine! ;)