Health Quest - My Adventure in Self-Publishing

Started by Bradshaw, November 13, 2011, 07:13:34 PM

Previous topic - Next topic



So one day I got totally fed up with being out of shape. I thought, "I know what to do, but I can't stay motivated to do it. There must be a way I can stick with my program that's fun." So I wrote Health Quest.

Bottom line, it is a fantasy story in which you're not allowed to read the next chapter until you've completed a specified number of days of dieting and exercise.  That's the role-playing aspect; your character slays the monsters by you sticking to your program.

Silly mind games? Yes. Did it work? Yes.

I mostly left this idea to myself, having no time to figure out how to get it published.  Then a friend of mine mentioned he was self-publishing his own book and away we went.

He used Createspace to get his book going so I did too.  There are a number of considerations, especially for non-US citizens such as myself (Canadian) with respect to tax implications.  Bottom line, for a cut of the royalties, I had my friend take care of all the administration so I could get on with putting together the book.

For editing, I used another one of my friends who is absolutely ruthless.  Again, I cut him in for some of the royalties.

For illustrations, I experienced the nightmare of trying to find an artist who can be dependable.  So far, I've yet to find one.

Finally the book was done.  With a lot of iteration trying to get the formatting exactly right for Createspace, the book is published.  Createspace has an interesting royalty structure and business model.  They don't actually print any books until someone orders one.  This means the unit cost is a bit higher but also means no one is holding any overhead.

You can also have the option of letting Createspace market your book through third parties, namely Amazon.  The royalties are about 1/2 but the exposure is much larger.  Amazon Kindle is the way I published the e-book version as well.

All that is relatively straightforward and doesn't cost a whole lot except for time.  By far, the biggest challenge at this point seems to be marketing.

How do you get the word out?

I'm on Facebook (Zac Bradshaw) and I've made a funny video for Youtube (Health Quest Motivation) to try to drum up interest, but man it is hard to get exposure.  Also, I'm ordering about 20 copies to try to sell around town here.  There's coupons in the back so maybe word will spread.  Plus, I'll mention to anyone who buys it to write a review for Amazon, though Amazon might not be allowing anyone who hasn't bought the book with Amazon to write a review anymore.

So any ideas?  Anyone else having any luck marketing their book?

And yes, I realize that my target audience is fantasy role-players who want to get in shape!  They've got to be out there!

Zac Bradshaw
Health Quest!
"We've done the impossible, and that makes us mighty."
Malcolm Reynolds


Woo-hoo!  Actually sold an e-book today to someone I don't know!  Off to the bank with my $1.25 of royalties!

Hey, it's a start.

Health Quest!
"We've done the impossible, and that makes us mighty."
Malcolm Reynolds

Ron Edwards

Hi Zac,

I think the reason I haven't replied before is mainly amazement. I have no idea whether a self-help exercise reward model is compatible with role-playing design. But more power to you for finding out.

Createspace, Lulu, and other services of this kind have shown themselves to be logistically effective - i.e., they do work, and they're cost-effective. The biggest issues concern format and promotion. You've rightly focused on the latter as your major concern, especially given your unusual pitch.

The thing is ... no one knows the best way to do it. Nobody knew back in 1996 when I released the first public version of Sorcerer. If the technology and internet culture had remained static, then by now, we'd know. However, those things have changed so rapidly that effectively, when it comes to internet promotion and marketing, it's always 1996, meaning that all of us have to assess what's available and how people use it, all over again, every time we publish.

Best, Ron



Interesting commentary.  Thank you.

I love the way you've characterized my project.  "...a self-help exercise reward model... [using] role-playing"   Do you mind if I borrow that?  It is quite distilled.

Self-marketing in 2011. Facebook -, Youtube -, my own web site -  But how do you get them there?  Honestly, I think Kijiji has helped the most so far, but I can only post an ad in one city at a time.

Looking at your work with Sorcerer, I would say that quality eventually finds its own way.  That is, if you have a quality product, word of mouth eventually gets the message out to bring success.  That's a compliment by the way.  Nice work!

I think we are beguiled by the promise of quick riches in our society.  Sure, it does happen to a select few for unfathomable reasons (Bieber?!), but by far and away, there is no free lunch or quick fix.  Work hard, and maybe you'll make it.

For me, it's the love of the art.  I feel privileged that I have a decent enough day job in terms of time and money that I can indulge my creative impulse.  Anything else is gravy.

Still, if anyone has a few good ideas on spreading the word...

Thanks again Ron,
Health Quest!
"We've done the impossible, and that makes us mighty."
Malcolm Reynolds


>>quality eventually finds its own way<<

Good ideas and quality work, though if its both, it'll certainly happen faster. Faster still if you have a large bank roll to throw at it and faster still if you have a pre-built audience who knows the type of stuff you do and love.

But without all that extra stuff, you are back to leveraging good ideas and quality work the best you can. And you are right, both will eventually find its way to success ... IF you stay persistent enough in flogging the whip. Sometimes it can take a good long time.

Marketing on the Internet is an ever changing landscape, but a few old tried and true principles remain constant. One is never miss an opportunity promote your product and brand. When appropriate, of course. Always leave your link to your site/product/etc. Maybe readers will follow it, which is always good, but maybe not, but almost certainly search engine spiders will. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn't see a link to where we could see your project?

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Publishing Group



Thanks.  Flogging a whip; boy that's exactly what it feels like.

Some board moderators get right irate when you leave a link!  One reason I like this board is that there is some good discussion here which I can contribute to, without looking like a total spammer.  I hate spam as much as the next guy and hate even more to think that I'm adding to it.  Such a fine line.

Along those lines (sigh), my previous post had three links; the last of which is to my website which has some good descriptive material on the book.  The Youtube link is to my rock video advertisement!  Man, I had fun making that!  (Warning - it is definitely amateur night!)

I won't post another link here, but now that I've posted a few times, I can put the link in my profile.  Hit the little globe in my profile block and you'll be right there.

Thanks again,
Health Quest!
"We've done the impossible, and that makes us mighty."
Malcolm Reynolds