Self Publishing – Not For the Faint of Heart

I was recently asked how hard it is to self publish.  It’s really rather easy.  Writing the book is much harder.  But, there are challenges to self-publishing that few people know about… It really isn’t for the faint of heart.  Here’s a list of 10 things you should know:

1.  No matter how good you think you are, people are going to hate your books.  And they are going to make sure you know it.  Most of the time, in the form of bad reviews and sometimes, in posts to Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

2.  Just because you have a good month or two, doesn’t mean you’ve made it.  Two years ago, someone I know released her third romance novel.  They aren’t a series, just stand alone romance novels and she made a little over $2000 that month.  The following month, she made $500.  She hasn’t made more than that $500 any month since, despite releasing three more books.

3.  There’s an editor (or two) to pay.  There’s a cover artist to pay.  There are paperbacks to buy and send out.  There’s formators to pay (or learn to do it yourself).  There’s advertising to be done.  It’s a huge investment for every book.

4.  Chances of getting that investment back in a year (or two or even three) are slim.  You might have a good month (see #2) here and there, but making it to the big money is work and a lot of it.  You’re going to be shelling out a lot more money than you’re making for a long time.

5.  Most people will publish 3 or 4 books and then disappear.  Either the lack of sales or the bad reviews will demotivate them to continue to write.  It wasn’t until I released The Dreams & Reality novel #7, that I really saw an increase in sales.  By then, I had 11 full length novels, 4 novellas, and 1 book of short stories published.  Now that I have released book #8, I am maintaining healthy sales numbers every month, with the help of advertising.  And discovering that I am a fluke.  I recently talked to someone with more published books than me and makes a quarter of what I make in a month, despite comparable prices.

6.  While you need print books, don’t expect to sell a ton of them.  I keep a supply around for book signings, giveaways, handing out to bloggers, and selling to friends/family.  However, 99.9% of sales are ebooks.  Some months, I will sell zero paperbacks, some months, I’ll sell 10.

7.  Being offered a contract, even by a small publishing house is exciting and terrifying.  It also requires a lawyer to read through all the fine print, discussions with yourself and other authors, and some serious pro/con weighing before making a decision.  I get contacted roughly 4 times a year and so far, only one has even made it past the initial email conversation.

8.  You are allowed to hate some aspects of “the job.”  I hate writing jacket copy (blurbs).  I still have to do it and no matter how much you detest whatever it is that you are going to detest, you will still have to do it as well.  Sorry, there isn’t a magic wand to get it done.

9.  Writing is work.  I hate the saying “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day of your life.” It’s complete and utter bullshit.  There are days when writing is the very last thing I want to do.  There are a ton of excuses to help me avoid it.  I live by this rule; If I had a job with a boss, and had to call in to not go to work, would I be calling in today?  Some days, the answer is yes.  I have the flu.  My migraine really is that bad.  Most days, the answer is no, I wouldn’t call in, so I put my fingers to the keys.

10.  Writing is a skill and like all skills, you must be willing to work at it.  I take three or four courses a year on how to make me a better writer.  I talk to other writers. I read books on writing.  I experiment with different things.  If I fail to evolve, my skills will eventually flounder.

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  1. Maria D.

     /  April 7, 2015

    All very good advice for any indie author starting out – plus it’s a good reminder that it’s rare for an author to make a huge amount of $$$ as they begin


    • Or, as I am starting to see more and more, ever. Like my romance writing example, last year, she made less than $3000 the entire year, despite having six books available. I was surprised by this, since I made more than $3000 my first full year of indie publishing (I had 6 books out at the time).

      Liked by 1 person


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