Author Steve Harper Follows the Advice of a Best-Selling Author and Self-Publishes First Book

by Karen Jonson

Retaining Control and Making More Money are the Top Benefits of Self-Publishing, Authors Say

Business Word Cloud

Self-publishing is the smarter business choice today, say experienced authors. Self-published authors maintain greater control and make more money, if they understand important book marketing principles.

“You will do all of the marketing work yourself anyway, so you might as well self-publish and keep more of the profits from your book.”

These were the sage words of wisdom that Harvey Mackay imparted to first-time author Steve Harper a few years ago. Mackay is the New York Times best-selling author of “Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive: Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate, and Outnegotiate Your Competition.”

After all of his success, including convincing his first publisher to give him a six-figure advance and a $150,000 promotion budget, Mackay still says in hindsight: “If I had to do over, I would self-publish, because I would have more control over the final product and I would have made more money.”

Mackay joins an ever-growing list of traditionally published authors who advocate for self-publishing over traditional publishing.

Harper says, “I was torn, but I had respected Mackay for years, so I decided to self-publish — and I’m happy I did. It’s true that I have more control over my book, and it’s important to me to be able to do what I want without asking a publisher for permission.”

Among the things that Harper does most is consult and speak about the concepts in his book, “The Ripple Effect: Maximizing the Power of Relationships for Life & Business.”

“I’ve earned more money from consulting and speaking than from the book, but the book facilitated my career as a consultant and speaker — it’s a great door opener,” he says. “I’ve built a brand around my book. People call me ‘The Ripple Guy.’”

The Cold Hard Reality of Traditional Publishing — No Marketing Dollars

In my interview with Harper, he cited another story of an author who had a publisher and still had to spend $20,000 of her own money to market her book. “Publishers today don’t spend money on marketing,” he said. “It’s all on the author to pay for it and do the footwork.”

Harper has spent a modest amount on marketing his book so far. He said he’s spent about $10,000 in seven years. However, last year he made over $100,000, mostly from speaking engagements.

“My book has the potential to make more money if I put a sustained effort toward marketing it. But I haven’t done that yet. Right now, I’m looking at getting more serious about social media.”

Since his book has been published, Wiley made him an offer to take over the title. But he turned down the publisher’s offer. “I have a lot of things I want to do with ‘The Ripple Effect,’ like giving workshops and taking the book overseas, and I want to be free to do them my way,” he says.

“The Ripple Guy” Shares His Advice on Marketing Self-Published Books

Harper says he’s used the principles he teaches in “The Ripple Effect” to make connections that have expanded his business opportunities. He shared these six principles with me:

1. Start Talking.

Have as many conversations about your book with people as possible. Look for ways to engage and talk about what is interesting to that person and where your passions may align.

2. Keep Talking.

Any conversation you have with someone about your book doesn’t have to end with a single conversation. Continue the conversation, and build on the relationship. You never know when that person could help you down the road.

3. Tell Stories.

When you are talking to people, or speaking publicly about your book, tell stories. Stories capture people’s attention, and take listeners beyond the pages of your book.

4. Learn Sales.

Harper advises authors to learn standard sales techniques to better market your books. “Get a good book on sales and follow it.”

5. Eliminate Excuses.

“Many authors use excuses like ‘I’m shy’ or ‘I’m introverted’ to avoid marketing, but those are excuses and crutches. You have to get out there and tell people about your book. In today’s society you have to be willing to put your ideas out there and argue and defend them.”

6. Become Thick-Skinned.

“Don’t let yourself be undermined by other people’s comments. Some people just live to put others down. The ability to take criticism is a challenge, but it’s an important skill for authors to possess.”


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bert February 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Right on Karen. Great stuff and it’s what I’ve already discovered with my first book being self published. Personally, I love getting in front of people, telling my story and finding out how it will benefit them, what they’re looking for and then tailoring our conversation to that.

I will add, when in doubt, spend the money to make it a first rate, professionally edited, run-it-by-other-pros kind of book. The extra cost is well worth it. As most of you know, people treat you differently when they find out you are a “published author.” I carry my book wherever I go and I talk to people about how it came to be and how it could help them.

There’s a subtle, palpable higher level of interest in what I have to say now, because I’m a “published author.” I had a friend say to me, “I want you to autograph your book for me. You’re the first published author I know.”

Since I’ve never had a baby, this is probably the best feeling of pride and contribution to mankind I’ve ever felt. The labor pains were not quite as intense, but the birthing process took much longer! 🙂


Bert Botta, author of: “Fast Lane to Faith: A Jet Jockey’s Search for Significance”

Here’s the link to Amazon if you would like to see behind the cockpit door of a modern day airliner to know what your captain is thinking! :

Also, I’d be a proud papa if you could Like my book here:


Karen Jonson February 3, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Hi Bert,

Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts and experience! It can’t be said enough that self-published authors need to make sure their books are as professional as traditionally published books.

Your book says it’s out of print. Is that being fixed?

I will definitely like your Faceobook page. Mine is – I welcome everyone to like it.



Laura Sherman February 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm

It seems to me that a lot of first-time writers need some support from a publisher. Self-publishing can be lonely and discouraging. I think self-publishing can work, but only for people willing to embrace your sage advice.

Thank you for the excellent article!


Karen Jonson February 4, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Hi Laura,

Thanks so much! I appreciate your kind words.

I agree that self-publishing can me lonely and isolating. That’s one of the big reasons I started the Indie Book Marketing Community. To give self-published authors a place to communicate with other self=published authors — along with gaining an education on book marketing.

I look forward to your thoughts in the future.



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