I never dreamed I’d be a self-made anything… I’ve worked warehouses, maintenance, drove 2-ton rigs and flipped burgers. Yet, here I am, with two self-published books and almost twenty more waiting impatiently. Throughout this self-publishing process, I’ve learned a few key things that I’ll definitely keep in mind the third time around.
1.Your Marketing Plan Must Come First.
Before you even finish your book entirely, and definitely before you spend money on covers and edits, have at least an outline of how you plan to sell your book: brand, audience, advertising sketch-ups, how much money you can put into it, etc. That first week out of the gates is the most crucial because that’s when everyone will first notice your book, and you need to make it punch your reader through the screen – “Hey! Look at me!”
2. Doing Everything Yourself Takes Time.
From completing your beloved book, to formatting and editing, oh yeah and then the never ending list of self-publishing to-dos:
- Personal Website Creation – learning how to navigate, post, respond, utilize email and ads
- Getting Copyrights for your work
- Social Media Networking – which sites, how to effectively post appropriate** content. This can be broken down into two categories, book specific pages like Goodreads and Bookbub, and then the more personal sites like Facebook and Twitter. Instagram is my personal go-to. The hashtags you add up help tremendously.
- Publishing Website – what information do you need to put in, how to format for that publisher, author page set up, how to get reviews and ads
- Financial Planning – how are you going to pay for everything, edits, cover, ads, file conversions, proof copies, website fees, ISBNs etc. You’re going to need a ledger. Because you have to monitor your royalties, since you have to pay your own taxes.
- Promotional deals and Marketing – if you haven’t done much of this before, it is a ton of research learning:
- Key search words, determining best tags based on what your audience commonly searches for.
- Best time of day/week/year to post an ad for your book
- Finding bookstores to take on selling your book
- Getting professional reviews from newspapers, editors, etc.
- Setting an appropriate price point for your various formats
3. Publishing a Book in Potential View of the Masses is Intimidating.
But the truth is, unless you’re Michael Crichton or E. L. James, or have a marketing plan that’s just killin’ it, most people won’t notice like you think. I was absolutely petrified when I first hit that ‘publish’ button in February, but truth is, I didn’t have any of the above, so I whittle away one book and one customer at a time and trudge forward. Just don’t get discouraged, expecting some miracle, or some horrible tragedy. It will be what you make of it.
4. I wish I had started with a company that offered a physical proof copy before I published. Sure I could easily check the eBook format, but when I went to get the print copy, somehow a symbol I’d used in my Word 2007 (yes I’m rockin’ an old software program) it didn’t figure right in their system and I ended up with a big fat question mark in my header. Sigh. So of course I fixed it immediately and replaced it with a silly simple BORING symbol and now she prints fine. Shrug. Can’t have everything.
5. Creating Hype Before You Publish.
I was totally gutless with the first one and didn’t tell anyone, just wondering what would happen when I hit that ‘magic’ button. Well, I sold a few copies, but it wasn’t the success it could’ve been. I made a post or two, told some friends about the second book and it’s sold far better than the first. I suppose this falls back under marketing bullet number 1, but there is so much truth to this, I can’t stress it enough. The book is only a small portion of what it can become.
A flower cannot grow without care from the earth, water, and the sun. Planting a seed will only go so far.
6. Be Patient. (Bonus)
Readerships aren’t built in a night, unless you’re the aforementioned. So for most of us, writing is our passion and it must be treated like the flower and not rushed. A crap book that’s been marketed well can be profitable, sure, but the readers won’t come back for more if they didn’t enjoy the over-advertised book of paper. Don’t lose sight of why you started this mission in the first place. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes you’ll get frustrated at the work you put in and the lack of return on your investment. But anything worth doing ought to get blood, sweat, and tears out of you. That’s how you know its real.