9 Self-Publishing Fiction Writers You Should Follow Today

by | Jul 9, 2014


By Jason Kong

Smart indie authors learn from each other.

One way to do that is through lots of scrutiny. To become a better writer, read those who write well. To improve your marketing, learn from the people with that skill. It’s likely that there’s already someone who has done what you hope to do.

Of course, determining the reason why something works isn’t always obvious. Being a motivated observer doesn’t mean you’ll be able to deconstruct the process on your own. In the end, simply keeping tabs on your role models may be more inspiring than instructive.

The alternative to figuring it out by yourself? Find people leading conversations around the challenges you care about.

There are successful fiction writers taking the initiative, using digital platforms to address issues in self-publishing. These are places where like-minds gather and connect, to analyze and dive deeper into matters impacting indie authors.

If you read and hear what they have to say, you will gain additional perspective. You will have more ideas to advance your efforts. And you may even discover that contributing to the discussion is one of the best ways to get the clarity you seek.

I’ve identified nine fiction authors that have established followings interested in self-publishing. Give these folks a look, and see if you can acquire some insights that help your cause.

  1. Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
    Sean PlattJohnny B TruantIn addition to being prolific authors, Sean and Johnny are also savvy marketers. They understand success as an indie publisher also means being a businessperson, and that you have to do both very well.They’re also pretty funny guys. Prepare to be entertained.

    Check out:

  2. CJ Lyons
    CJ LyonsCJ made the career switch from ER doc to writing thrillers, but her aim was the same: to change the world and make a difference. These days, she’s a hybrid author which means she both traditionally publishes and self-publishes her books. She’s quite successful at both.

    Check out:

  3. Lindsay Buroker
    Lindsay BurokerWhen she’s not writing stories revolving around adventure and fantasy, Lindsay blogs about self-publishing and marketing. Because she’s willing to experiment and share her results, she’s a must-read for indie authors, especially those seeking that level of transparency.

    Check out:

  4. Joanna Penn
    Joanna PennSomehow Joanna manages to write both fiction and non-fiction, run a podcast, maintain several blogs, and does speaking engagements too. On top of all that? She’s both super helpful and nice.

    Check out:

  5. David Gaughran
    David GaughranDavid is respected for his knowledge about digital publishing, which he shares in depth through his blog and several books. If you have any interest in being an indie author, you’ll definitely want to read his stuff.

    Check out:

  6. Joe Konrath
    Joe KonrathHighly opinionated and no-nonsense, Joe often blogs about the publishing big picture and how the various changes impact indie authors. His archives include plenty of advice and resources for writers new to the business, and he’s quite willing to share his personal experience too.

Joe primarily writes thrillers. His body of work is impressive.

Check out:

  1. Nathan Bransford
    Nathan BransfordNathan is a former literary agent that has now written several children’s novels. He blogs about both the writing craft and business, and supports both traditional and self-publishing paths.

    Check out:

  2. Hugh Howey
    Hugh HoweyHugh is very passionate. About his storytelling, sure, but also what it means to be a writer today and what it takes to make readers happy. His thoughts and ideas on publishing are worth pondering.

    Check out:

  3. Elizabeth Craig
    Elizabeth S CraigElizabeth is a mystery author that mostly blogs about the various challenges writers face, often sharing her personal experience. She leads a very supportive community, and welcomes others to chime in with their perspective.

    Check out:

Who’s missing?
I’m sure there’s worthy self-publishing fiction writers not covered here. Who would you recommend and why?
Photo: bigstockphoto.com

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

26 Comments

  1. Morgan

    I think The Pagelord should be on this list, he’s awesome (www.thepagelorddaylight.blogspot.com & thepagelordmonster.blogspot.com).

    Reply
  2. Lucy Carter

    Thank you for this well considered list. I would suggest S. R Howen for the Medicine Man series that totally blew me away this year. Seriously some of the best fiction writing I have ever read and getting better with every book.
    Fans of Native American fiction, paranormal and horror need to check out that series and asap. I am so excited for Howen’s next work and I think she is going to become huge. https://www.srhowen.com/

    Reply
  3. David Rory O'Neill

    A list of established social media big hitters who often sell advice for new writers.
    This list is a little predictable and obvious and leaning heavily towards successful social media Indi’s. It seems to say nothing about literary merit.
    Is the message get good at social media? The media is what’s important not the books?

    Reply
    • Jason Kong

      David: I hope that’s not your takeaway from my article. That if you start following a list of people willing to help other self-publishing writers, you will overcome a poorly written book.

      I would never claim that marketing is important and the actual writing is not. If that’s what people get from this post, then I have failed.

      Reply
      • David Rory O'Neill

        Jason, I didn’t mean to come over as negative as I appear to have. Your first sentence has me puzzled. I simply do not see how you got that from what I said. ‘Following these people will help you overcome a poorly written book’. ????
        Where did you get that?
        I could get insulted by that comment but I’m sure you’ve never seen my work and perhaps this is the point of your post that I might have passed over too lightly.
        I need to do what these people do to get noticed?

        Reply
        • Jason Kong

          David: I apologize for my incorrect inference of your comment. You did not say that.

          My main message is to seek the places where discussion around self-publishing issues occur, hear the perspectives of others like you, and apply the parts that work for you. I chose to highlight these 9 individuals because they’ve been through the process of self-publishing their fiction, and they’re smart people leading the conversations to do better work.

          In other words, they’re not just examples themselves, but they’re addressing the ideas and issues that other self-publishing writers care about.

          I hope that makes my position clearer.

          Reply
  4. Lindsay

    Thank you for including me in your roundup, Jason!

    Reply
    • Jason Kong

      Of course, Lindsay! Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
    • Jason Kong

      Deirdre: Yup, great kick-in-the-pants post (for those not offended by non-PG language).

      Reply
      • Cari

        Well, I am offended by cursing. So that’s out for me. :)

        Reply
        • Jason Kong

          Cari: A rough count reveals over 60 curse words on that page.

          Probably a good idea to stay away. :)

          Reply
  5. Melissa

    Great post; I am familiar with many- but not all of these wonderful writers. I’ve already started exploring their work- thank you for the links!

    Reply
    • Jason Kong

      You’re very welcome, Melissa!

      Reply
  6. Laura Scott

    There are a couple I heartily recommend:

    Kristine Rusch has written a fabulous series of posts on publishing and the history of the business from the perspective of independent publishing as well as traditional publishing. https://kriswrites.com/category/business/

    Dean Wesley Smith https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/ who’s writes about independent publishing based on many years’ experience. He has several blog series that are basically chapters in his books on the subject, which he regularly updates.

    Reply
    • Jason Kong

      Thanks, Laura. You and JR (comments section, above) are on the same wavelength!

      Reply
  7. Helen Page

    And don’t forget Kboards.com

    Reply
    • Jason Kong

      Yes, lots of stuff to digest there. Thanks, Helen!

      Reply
  8. Anma Natsu

    I’d also add the trio behind the podcast The Dead Robots’ Society (https://deadrobotssociety.com/): Terry Mixon, Paul E. Cooley, and recent arrival Scott Roche (who took over for Justin Macumber after the latter went on sabbatical). Their podcast features a lot of good info on self-publishing.

    Reply
    • Jason Kong

      That’s a new one to me. Thanks, Anma.

      Reply
  9. Donna White Glaser

    I would highly recommend The Passive Voice too. While not an author, his blog is incredibly up-to-date on publishing news.

    Reply
    • Jason Kong

      Yes! There are often interesting discussions within the comments sections too.

      Reply
  10. JR Holmes

    Other notable writers about self-publishing are the following:

    Dean Wesley Smith – https://www.deanwesleysmith.com – Dean is a long time writer and publisher and has some great insights into the process of writing and how to work with both traditional and self-publishing. With books like The New World of Publishing and the Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing (and the upcoming version dealing with Indy Publishing), he is a an excellent source of information and common sense advice.

    Kristen Kathryn Rusch – https://kriswrites.com – Kris happens to be the wife of Dean Wesley Smith, but has her own takes on the business of writing. Notable is the Freelancer’s Survival Guide that while written in the midst of the great changes in publishing still gives great and practical advice to writers.

    And there are many more that I follow via my Feedly account (and my much missed Google Reader before that).

    Reply
    • Jason Kong

      Yes, those are two good ones for sure. Thanks for mentioning them, JR.

      Reply
  11. Dan Holloway

    This is a great list but it is very narrow and focused on digital authorpreneuring. If you care about self-publishing in its broadest sense, then we need to widen way out and take a look at those leading the field in their areas

    Kate Tempest – one of the few poets to break through into mainstream popular culture. Her first book, everything Speaks in its Own Way was one of the most beautifully-produced self-published books out there. And with the ability to sell out performances to audiences of a thousand and more, and a background in hip hop that ionforms her ability to self-publish video and audio material, she is a role-model for anyone who wants to think beyond digital.

    Polly Trope – not just an amazing writer of Beat/Offbeat dark urban prose but columnist in charge of uncovering brilliant self-publishing at Indie Berlin, a fabulous guide to underground culture.

    Marc Nash – the most experimental of experimental writers, ushing at the seams to see what writing is capable of – if you want to expand your literary horizons, following his blog is essential

    Alt Lit Gossip – the go-to tumblr for alt lit, which is in many ways as a genre the epitome of self-publishing – fast, digitally-driven, multimedia, postmodern, brand-conscious, smart, and rampantly individualistic.

    And of course Orna Ross, founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors – a bit of a boggling omission. Others doing wide-reaching or innovative work at the Alliance would include Roz Morris and Rohan Quine

    Reply
    • Jason Kong

      Dan: I really appreciate that you took the time to spotlight these additional names, especially given your involvement within the self-publishing movement.

      I do want to point out that this post wasn’t meant to be a comprehensive or complete list — these are just folks who I know have helped fellow self-publishing writers through their voice and actions.

      Reply

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