Self Publishing: Lessons Learned Part I

August 1, 2013

As I sat in my squeaky office chair at 5am on an unnecessarily humid 4th of July morning, which should have been a morning to sleep in under the watchful gaze of my air conditioner on my day off from my “real job”, trying desperately to interpret the style guide from Smashwords, I realized I should tell people about my own experience with self publishing, challenges, opportunities, things that didn’t work, things that did work, things that I can’t believe I even attempted, and things no one in their right mind should do.

So here you have it: my path through self-publishing.  Having been at this a little over six months, I can say no one experience fits all.  You may find different platforms worked different for you just as different marketing techniques worked differently for you.  But this is what I experienced as I did this and what I have to say about it.

In Part I, I will discuss what you should do before you even begin to dive into self publishing.  These are all the things that I later said, why didn’t I think about that?  So here you go.


#1: Have a support team.

This may seem like a silly thing, but I cannot stress it enough.  You know when you say to people that you’re a writer, and they either a.) laugh at you or b.) ask you what else you do.  (Because there must be something!)  When I started spending time before and after my day job working on my self-publishing career, I realized I was not Wonder Woman, and that I needed help.  This meant my husband had to take my writing partner, Lady Josephine the Basset hound to daycare and run by the store on the way home.  My mom had to make me leftovers that I could live for a week while I was writing.  Bottom line, you need someone there to help you, so you can help yourself.


  #2: Ask yourself why you’re doing this.

Again, dumb question, but whenever I go through my news feed and see another snippet about another self-published author who just signed a 7-figure deal, you really need to think about why you’re self-publishing.  Are you chasing a dream?  Have you always wanted to get your stories in front of readers, but you’re tired of the nonsense editors and publishers and agents can sometimes put you through?

Or are you looking to get rich quick?

Because if it’s the second one, bow out now.  Not everyone gets the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

For me, it was the first one.  I just wanted someone I didn’t know to read my book and love it.

That’s actually the first goal in my business plan, and I nailed it during the first week of release for Son of a Duke.


#3: Do your research.

Self-publishing is mind boggling even to the most elite and well-versed self-pubber.  There’s a lot more to it than just writing something down and uploading to Amazon.  You need to do your research.

Join a group.  (Google self-publishing romance novels.  Trust me.)  Take a class.  Find out what self-publishing really means.  Here are some questions you’ll need answers to that you might not have thought of:

Will I go it under my name or form an LLC?

Do I need an EIN?

What is an EIN?

What about ISBNs?

And the alphabet soup can go on and on.

Prepare yourself before you actually have to start doing for yourself.


#4. Write the next book.

This was actually something that I learned from Lynn Kurland.  She said when a publisher likes something you’ve written but says it isn’t quite their thing, you can say, well I have these other four books that you’ll just love!

Writing the next book serves two purposes:

1.) You get better as you write.  A confession here: I really don’t like my first release.  It was the first book I ever wrote, and I really dislike it.  I have since written five other novels, and when I had to edit this first one for release, I wanted to poke my eyeballs out with my red pen.  (This is a lie.  I edited it on my Kindle, but the imagery just isn’t the same.)  So improve your writing as you go.

2.) You have the next book.  In self-publishing, readers demand the next book before they’ve finished reading the last one.  So get the next book ready before self-publishing has even occurred as a thought in your head.

That’s the first part!  Stay tuned for subsequent parts covering topics such as:

When to contract and when not to

I have to format what?

And my favorite: nobody told me I had to do this.


Jump to Part II!

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