3 Things I’ve Learned From Self-Publishing


kdpSince I decided to self-publish over one year ago, I’ve published six works, two of which are retired (although I may rewrite ESTRA Corp. in the future.) Over time, I’ve learned a few things about self-publishing.

1) Self-publishing is not the easy way out

Anyone who believes self-publishing is easy, they couldn’t be more wrong. Sure, physically publishing the book is easy, but anyone who is serious about writing, and who wants to write full time, should know that self-publishing is hard. You have to play the role of writer and businessman if you want to be successful. Of course if you have a lot of start up money that makes things a little easier. You can hire a professional editor, cover designer, and publicist to handle everything except the writing. But for those of us who don’t have that option, it’s hard. I’ve been lucky enough to make friends who are editors who, while beta reading, will make some edits for me. I also know enough about Photoshop to make some okay covers, but I’m hardly an expert. It takes a lot of work to write, edit, handle the covers, and then spend time to market your work, all while handling a day job, school, or both.

2) Everyone is not waiting for your book 

When I first published ESTRA Corp. (Now retired), I thought that as soon as I posted the link on Facebook, my friends and family would be swarming the Lulu website to buy my book. After all, few of them knew I was writing a book, so I figured they might be interested. However, I watched the days go by, and my sales were frozen at 0. Eventually some of my family members picked it up, but that was barely a flicker of life. My sales were calling up the funeral home, booking a date for their funeral. Plus, it was harder for my international friends who wanted to buy it, because Lulu isn’t everywhere like Amazon is. So, the shipping rates got pretty outrageous if someone outside of the United States wanted to buy it. I learned quickly that the world isn’t begging to read debut books by unknown people. Things have picked up a bit since I switched to self-publishing through Amazon.

3) The world doesn’t always respect self-published authors 

Now, I’ve never had anyone disrespect me for self-publishing. Everyone I’ve come across has been supportive of me, and has encouraged me to press on, which I’m so very grateful for. However, I know there is a stigma. There’s a stereotype that self-published books are trash. They’re not good, and self-published authors should be lined up and shot.

Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get my point.

But I can certainly see their point. With the ease of point-and-click publishing, anybody can type up a manuscript and call themselves an author, without putting in the necessary effort to make sure their book is 100%. After all, with how lucrative being an author can be, who wouldn’t want to do that? However, there is such a rush to be famous that people will put out anything and everything they can to try and make it. And that is where this stigma comes from. Some self-published authors do want to produce quality work. They want to earn their title as an author, and aren’t looking for a way to get rich quickly. Although, anyone who has tried writing knows that penning up even a first draft of a book isn’t quick. But, people still sling half-finished works into the world, and unsuspecting people buy it only to be disappointed.  Then these crossed readers jump on their blogs and talk about how evil self-published authors are. I’ve seen several book review blogs that don’t accept submissions from self-published authors, I’m assuming because they’ve been disappointed by them in the past.

So, there are a few things I’ve learned from self-publishing so far. I know I still have a lot to learn, and I’m sure I won’t be able to learn it all in my lifetime. Things will change as they always do, and there will be new ways to write, new ways to publish, and new ways to make it work.

Do you self-publish? What do you think of it? Do you plan to self-publish? What do you think will be the most difficult part of it for you?

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7 thoughts on “3 Things I’ve Learned From Self-Publishing

  1. I think the hardest bit for me at the moment is I have not put anything up yet and until I have a story written, edited, cover art sorted and then published it seems like a scary prospect.

    And please re-write ESTRA. Corp! It’s a good story and I’d love to see how you tweak it 🙂

    • It can be pretty terrifying knowing you’re putting a piece of yourself that you spend so long to create, only to have someone potentially tear apart in a few days. But I personally feel that self-publishing is a learn-from-your-mistakes kind of business. You won’t be perfect, despite how much every demands it from you, but as long as you produce quality work it will be great!

      And I started going through ESTRA Corp. a few weeks ago, but I need to be in the right mindset to go through it. Plus, I’m too excited about my current WIP to work on much else, haha.

      • I know what you mean about being excited, and also there is the feel that you’ve completed ESTRA.corp and ready to move on 🙂

        I’m still hoping to have something out by the end of the year 🙂

  2. I do want to self publish just because it seems to be the affordable way to do it. Yet, I’m terrified that I might end up putting something out there that flops because I didn’t get the right cover, or the editor I picked missed some things. When the time is right to go down that road, we shall see what happens. Good luck to you and your writing! =^)

  3. Self-publishing has been made easier today by the internet, but as you point out, a lot of people do it for fame and wealth. To me these are the wrong motives. Properly professional writers write because they have something to say, because they have an emotional journey on which they take readers (this is true of non-fiction and fiction alike). Writers who put pen to paper, finger to keyboard etc for other reasons – such as the limelight – won’t have that content. A quality book will rise to the surface, irrespective of how it’s published – providing it is discovered; and that is the problem in this day and age. When everybody has the same publishing tools and the same promotional tools, it’s hard to find the good stuff amidst the white noise. And the stuff that does go ‘viral’ is transient – witness the rise and fall of the ‘Harlem Shake’.

    For myself, I publish traditionally with the main houses- Penguin and Random House, mainly. It was very hard to ‘break in’, but there are advantages in terms of editorial input, marketing and distribution that are not possible for self-publishers. I guess, too, there is also the brand, which ‘authenticates’ the work in ways that self-publishing does not (yet) – this last is changing, but the issue is diluted by the fact that, as you say, so many people who can’t write are flinging half-finished rubbiish at us. For all the angst with which aspiring authors view the entry bar of the trad route, the fact remains that the ‘slush pile’ and the editorial judgement of the publishing houses did act as a filter.

  4. I plan to self publish – the marketing part is probably what worries me the most. And part of that is because the two novels i want to publish are different genres, which will probaby complicate it further. Also, to the degree that people read my writing at the moment, its primarily poetry, so that’s different again. Still, I’m not too concerned if it takes time to build a readership, so that’s helpful I suppose. 🙂

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