John Herrick wasn’t a complete newbie when it came to self-publishing. With a background in media, marketing, and technology, he already understood some of the basics when he self-published his first novel, From the Dead, in 2010. And now, with several indie titles under his belt—including The Landing, a semi-finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest—Herrick asserts that “the strongest marketing asset is always word of mouth because trust and relationships form its foundation.”

His latest novel, Between These Walls, explores the intersection of faith and homosexuality, and received a positive review from Publishers Weekly, with our reviewer saying that “Herrick will make waves” and that he offers “readers a unique look at how gay Christians might feel—which is the strength of the book.”

We asked Herrick what his self-publishing experiences have taught him, and what tips he would offer to aspiring indie authors.

Study the Market

“Reference books provide an overall glimpse into the process. From that point, research the details of each facet, comparing costs and options. Regarding design, I studied hundreds of books in the bookstores. I studied font styles and sizes, counted lines on each page, binding, paper quality—and studied which qualities appeared across comparable books. New York houses’ books reveal the industry standards. I believe you should always learn from the best.”

Get Help From the Pros

“Know when to seek assistance from a third party. A freelance editor is a solid investment. If design isn't your forte, it's worth hiring a skilled cover designer. [However] avoid a traditional distributor. It will get your book on physical shelves, but the costs will eat you alive. People assume if your book appears on a bookstore’s physical shelf, sales will skyrocket. By the time word of mouth builds on an indie book, the book has already disappeared from the shelf. Print-on-demand helps keep your print costs in the black.”

Never Give Up

"[Once I made the decision to self-publish] I feared ruining my chances for future success. But if you have a solid product and establish a quality reputation, I believe the right people tend to find you at the right time.”