Paths to Publication: Chris Stout

Paths to Publication

Days of Reckoning by Chris Stout

My path to publication started out in the traditional manner: I networked. While I was working on my MA, I met and became friends with two editors who owned their own small presses. So my first two sales were short stories, which appeared in the anthologies Thou Shalt Not (Dark Cloud Press – 2006) and Sails and Sorcery (Fantasist Enterprises – 2007). After that quick start, things came to a screaming halt. My novel Days of Reckoning, which received solid reviews from peers and mentors at Seton Hill University, failed to attract the attention of any agents. One agent sent it back with a flyer promoting his own book on how to land an agent, so at that point I consigned it to the “never gonna sell” file.

A few things happened to bring it back to life. First, I opted to continue at SHU and pursue an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. At least with that degree, I would have a better chance of landing a teaching position. During the June 2010 residency, I attended a talk by David Morrell, and heard about how Amazon was offering a 70% royalty option to authors who chose to self-publish for the Kindle. I filed this information away for a few months.

Being in a community of writers re-ignited my interest in trying to get into print again. While I was cleaning up a new novel and searching for agents to whom I might submit, I came across my notes from Dr. Morrell’s talk. One of the authors he recommended was JA Konrath, so I looked up Mr. Konrath’s blog and read about his journey from traditional print publishing to e-book self-publishing. As I was studying his blog, Barnes and Noble announced that they were launching a self-publishing platform called PubIt!. Add to that mix the fact that Apple had launched the iPad and iBookstore, and suddenly the largest retailers were all offering strong royalty rates and platforms where authors could sell their work directly to consumers.

So I had a completed, edited novel that had failed to find a home in traditional print. And I had venues available to sell it myself without having to sink thousands of dollars into printing costs. I would need to do another round of edits to make sure everything was up to date in my book, and also to reformat it so it would be compatible across several different platforms, but that seemed like a lot more fun than sending out queries, so I took the plunge.

So here I am! My novel Days of Reckoning is a contemporary action thriller. It centers on Miranda Leider, a good cop with a violent past. Her brother is found dead, and Miranda sets out to prove that it's not a suicide. As she investigates on her own, she uncovers a conspiracy that reaches all the way to the top of her department. Trusting no one, Miranda goes rogue. With her friend and partner Detective Sam Connor hot on her trail, she hunts the conspirators and anyone else who had a role in her brother's death.

Days of Reckoning is currently available for Kindle:

and Nook:, at the price of $2.99. The equivalent of 30 printed pages can be downloaded as a free sample from either platform. The iBooks version should hopefully be available before 2011.

In the meantime, I am still editing two more novels, and in the middle of writing the first draft of yet another. I don’t yet know whether I will publish them myself or try to go the traditional route. But at least I have the experience of trying to sell and market in both ways. Since I still hope to teach when I finish the MFA, I think those experiences will be valuable in the classroom.

-Chris Stout
December 2010

You can read Chris's PICK SIX interview here:


  1. Chris, can you discuss your marketing campaign? That's the scary part of self-publishing, of any variety.

  2. Congrats, Chris! I'll spread the word.

  3. Thanks for spreading the word, Penny Dawn!

    Cheryl, right now my marketing campaign consists of what I can do for free and while I am not working my job or doing school work. So it's pretty limited. Social media like Facebook has been a help, and I've recently joined Kindle Boards as well. Being interviewed by generous folks like Heidi is also key to getting the word out. There's so much potential that I haven't tapped into yet, but time and money are the biggest constraints on doing a bang-up marketing campaign. So it's important for someone like me to take the long view and do the best I can with what is available. As money (hopefully) comes in, I'll be able to expand further (e.g. buying ad space, building a web site, etc.). In the meantime, I'll do what I can via blogs, FB, message boards and the like.

    And on that note, thank you, thank you! to Heidi for the opportunity to feature my work, both here and previously through her Pick Six series. Cheers!

  4. Always happy to help a fellow writer, Chris!

    Thank you for participating in my author series.


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