One Year Later: What I’ve Learned of Self-Publishing

It’s been one year since I turned my manuscript for Be Still in to iUniverse.  This time last year, I paid a huge chunk of money to have the book go through an extensive editing service, which is how I learned enough to start and finish my manuscript for Surviving the Writing Apocalypse.

So what did I learn? That no matter how wonderful I think my story is, there are always improvements. That my thought of, “maybe there are a few content and grammatical errors,” actually turned into a book with so much red, it looked like it was bleeding.  I learned that editing is an important and integral process and shouldn’t be overlooked.

I learned that people do judge a book by its cover. Don’t you? Do not skimp on the thing readers see most. If you can’t do it yourself, then hire someone to do it. Which brings me to cost. Whether you pay for an assisted publishing company (like I did), use a small indie press, or do all the work yourself, you will be fronting some money somewhere in the process for publicity and marketing.  I have no problem saying that I have spent well over $5,000 in marketing material (including books I have sent out for free), publicity, and advertising.

I know that next time around I will not drop ANY money to purchase reviews from Kirkus, Blue Ink, or Foreword. I’m sure they are beneficial in some way, but most my readers look at the reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. I will not pay huge doles of cash to some publicists who guarantees my book will be in a magazine and a podacst, only to discover it is an e-zine and podcast they own. Oh, and I won’t pay to buy likes or friends either.

I learned it is important to network with other authors.  This is probably the most important thing out there. Meet other authors. Network! We are a wonderful, huge, circle of information and help.  We need each other more than you think.  Sometimes it is easier for me to bounce an idea off another author rather than say, my kids, boyfriend, or friends who have a sense of obligation to say good things. Authors tend to be pretty straightforward.

Surround yourself by positive people.  As an author, we give so much of our energy and soul into our characters that we need a positive person on the other end of a blog, phone call, or text to tell us why we keep doing it.  My family offers help and kind words, but sometimes the words of a stranger who is following me gives the most encouragement.

Don’t be afraid to talk about other people’s books. I get it now, my book isn’t for everyone.  When someone says that isn’t their kind of book, I have an arsenal of other indie books to recommend.  It keeps people reading, points them in the direction of indie authors, and I firmly believe in what goes around comes around.

Last: always be advertising! This never ends. Never. You can’t expect that your book will advertise its self .  NO! Keep a physical copy of your book on you. Men, buy a satchel and suck it up. So, its a man-purse, but who cares? You need to advertise and what better way than to have a copy for people to see.  Also have flyers, book markers, or info cards on you at all times.  And if you have a smartphone, then you should have the Square to process creditcards as well.

I’m sure there are many more lessons, but I’m trying to keep it short.  Good luck authors. What have you learned?


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7 responses to “One Year Later: What I’ve Learned of Self-Publishing

  1. Liked both your Facebook pages 🙂

  2. Thanks for the great advice. Surrounding yourself with other writers sound like a really good idea. I have to find myself a writers group. Thanks.

  3. Great post! I am just starting into the self-published world and advice like yours is wonderful to find. And…Amen! to the editor comments! I “thought” I was ready to publish based on friends/family comments…had an editor give me a sample edit to see if I needed more…..well….to quote you “bleeding red” is a perfect phrase!

    • I knew I would need grammatical editing: commas, semi-colons and such, but when I learned all the content errors, well I just wanted to bury my head. There is so much more than just grammar. Congrats on writing and welcome to the world of self-publishing, there are so many wonderful authors out here and so much resources. Remember this, make friends with a few authors, there will come a time you will need someone to talk to who understands the process or can give advice. Having author friends is the best way to go because we have been through it and can feel your pain.

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