Thursday, August 11, 2011

Laura Kurk on self-publishing

I'm delighted to have Laura Kurk as our guest today on Go Teen Writers! When I sent out questions about self-publishing, Laura responded, and I'm so glad she did.

Laura Anderson Kurk is the author of Glass Girl and its upcoming sequel Perfect Glass. A member of ACFW and Cross Reference Writers, she lives in College Station, Texas with her husband and two children. For more information about her writing, visit or find her on Facebook (

Check out this beautiful cover:

LOVE it.

Enough of me. Here's Laura to talk to you about her experiences. If you have questions for her, feel free to leave them in the comments section, and I'm betting she'll be happy to answer them.

One Writer’s Viewpoint on Alternative Publishing

If you want to make a roomful of writers sweat, just drop words like Kindle Direct Publishing or Print-on-Demand presses. The growing pains in publishing are real and are tracking the shift in the music industry as it moved rapidly into indie music and highly-targeted niche releases.

Getting your prose read by others has never been more possible—there are blogs, e-magazines, self-publishing, subsidy presses, and traditional publishing. I’m proud of you for starting early, sticking with it, and looking for ways to gain confidence and loyal readers.
My first novel, a YA book called Glass Girl hit me like a ton of bricks. It came out of nowhere and begged to be written. Armed with a graduate degree in literature and a career’s worth of experience as a writer, I dug in and produced a 100,000-word book that came straight out of my heart. I believed in it. I loved it. But I didn’t know what to do with it. Wracked with insecurity and unsure about what I had, I made the best decision I’ve ever made and I found an amazing freelance book editor. (A good line edit can cost two cents a word.)

After my manuscript was polished, I still felt like I wanted to test the waters before diving into the world of queries/rejections/contracts. I was a newbie, plain and simple, and I needed to see if my story and style resonated with teen readers before I pursued agents and traditional houses. I liked the idea of Westbow Press because it was linked to Thomas Nelson so I researched the packages available through Westbow, chose the one they call the Bookstore Advantage ($2,500 at the time) and took the plunge. Cheaper options are available and perfectly viable. If you strip the services down to no-frills, subsidy presses can be very reasonable options for you while still giving you the backing of professionals who can walk you through the process.
The good news is that my sales have been brisk, my book signings have been well-attended, and I’ve garnered national press as a new face in Christian fiction. I’ve connected with my readers through Facebook and guest blogging and have a loyal group waiting for the sequel, which is written and ready. I feel like I got my writer-legs and now I’m ready to take things to the next level with confidence.

As teens early in your writing careers you might find tangible benefits in subsidy presses and self-publishing including:

You’re in control of your work and how it is presented;
You retain rights to your work;
Your work releases quickly and you can begin to form a loyal audience that looks forward to hearing from you often. This builds your confidence as a writer.

But bear in mind that you must be ready to market yourself. Many of us are naturally introverted and self-promotion feels awkward but without a publishing house behind you, you must be ready to put yourself out there. You also must work harder to make sure your writing is good, relevant and polished so that it has a chance to rise above the growing wave of self-published works. Do your research, know your audience, get the advice of editors, and then, if alternate publishing methods are right for you, go for it.

Thank you, Laura, for being here!


  1. Great Post This really helped me.


  2. Thanks for the advice! I really want to check out that book now. The cover is awesome! I think that I would want a good publisher to work with.I hope I can find one when the time comes.I've heard that publishing an ebook either before or at the same time is good.Do you agree? Thanks for guest posting!I really enjoyed it!Sierra
    Keep Growing Beautiful♥ (Cause You Are!)

  3. Hey Alyson and Sierra - thanks for commenting! Glad you found something worthwhile in my post. Sierra - I hope you will look for GLASS GIRL! I've noticed that a lot of traditionally published authors are now publishing ebooks (usually something like a novella, offered free of charge) around the time of the release of their newest book. It does generate quite a bit of buzz and if it's free, the goodwill will usually make readers more inclined to pick up the other titles by the author.

    Keep writing!

  4. Thank you that post was helpful:)

  5. Great job Laura! This was well written and lots of help.

    P.S If you haven't read Glass Girl you need to. It is amazing!

  6. Thanks, Sydney! I should point out that my new website will be unveiled next week and you should all check it out for a guest blog by Sydney Gass, a thirteen-year-old writer from Vancouver (with one full length manuscript under her belt and two underway).

    You guys continually amaze me with your intelligence, drive, and professionalism. Go teen writers indeed!

  7. Thank you for coming on and "talking" to us, Laura. I love the title of your book, by the way! You give some interesting points and paint self-publishing in a positive light (which it so often doesn't get) that makes it glow and makes me want to clap for you for going to all that work and obviously doing it right!

  8. Oh, thank you, Rachelle! I guess the way I used self-publishing was as my focus group research. That's the way I chose to look at it. And my focus group told me that they wanted more. So, here I go, stepping into the more traditional ways of publishing. We'll see how it goes. I'm so impressed with Stephanie's teen writers and the real writing workshops she provides you guys. Prayerful that you keep writing the stories God puts in your heart.

  9. Thanks for the info ;) I would love to get my hands on a copy of Glass Girl, it sounds great!