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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Five Things I Learned After Self-Publishing My First Book

    I can remember how excited I was like it were yesterday when my first book titled What Happened to Little League Baseball in the Inner City? was published. About fifty of my closest friends and family attended the book signing, and my wife catered the food. Even the bishop of my church at the time also came to the book signing and even allowed me to sell some copies at the church afterward. It was an extravaganza to remember for many years to come, and I made a lot of money at the signing as well as selling my book to some of my coworkers. I was indeed well on my way to being a bestselling author, or so I thought. Boy, I was naïve to say the least.

    The momentum that I generated was short-lived, and reality set in for me very quickly. I didn’t become an overnight sensation like I had originally planned because I was old news before my Amazon page showed up in the Google search engine results. Basically, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, if that makes any sense. However, I did learn five basic truths about self-publishing that I wish I knew before I got started.

 Stay Away from Vanity Publishers.

    Vanity publishers suck. They take all the money and leave the heavy lifting to the author. I won’t drop any names because I’m not in the business of trashing a company’s reputation, but I used a vanity publisher back in the day and lost hundreds of dollars without making any semblance of a profit. They give authors the illusion that they will promote their books, but the fact of the matter is self-published authors have the sole responsibility of managing their own book promotion. One rule of thumb for new writers is to never pay a publishing company to publish a book―a real publisher will give an author a cash advance if they feel that a book has the potential to be profitable.

 Avoid Using Pay-Per-Click Advertising.

    Authors are guaranteed to lose their shirts trying to pay for traffic for a website or blog if they lack experience in internet marketing. Books have a low profit margin―especially if the books are fiction―and it’s virtually impossible for fiction authors to make a profit via pay-per-click advertising companies like Google AdWords or Microsoft Advertising, for example. Unknown authors will have a hard time selling their own books from a website or blog, and prior to Amazon’s advertising platform for authors, authors as a whole weren’t making a lot of money using pay-per-click advertising. Conversely, Amazon Advertising had dramatically changed the game for authors like me and allowed us to make a profit exhibiting our books because customers automatically come to the Amazon marketplace with the intent to buy.

Create a Blog.

    I kick myself for not creating my blog sooner. I only spent eleven months in the Google sandbox before I started receiving organic traffic on a daily basis, and if I had created my blog fifteen years ago, I’d have one of the most popular sites on the Internet with well over a thousand posts under my belt. Chronicling my writing experiences back then would’ve helped catapult me to the next level in the self-publishing game much sooner.

 Hire a Team of Freelancers.

    Vanity publishers bank on new authors’ ignorance and capitalize by charging outrageous prices when it comes to book cover design, proofreading, editing, and formatting of books. An author must do his or her due diligence and seek out freelancers on the Web who provide these services for a fraction of the cost that these vanity publishing companies charge. Fiverr is a great place to start, and I only wish that they were around when I first started writing.

Limit Time on Social Media.

    I spent entirely too much time trying to market my books on sites like Facebook and Twitter in the past, and this took away from the time that I could’ve spent writing. I’m an introvert by nature and don’t enjoy wasting my time soliciting people to follow me or buy my books, so I removed myself from social media altogether and focused solely on writing books and posts on my blog.  

    There’s no one-size-fits-all type of self-publishing handbook that anyone can follow and achieve success because everyone’s situation is different. My job is to help new authors avoid some of the pitfalls that plagued me starting out, and I sincerely hope that this article will help make things a little easier when it comes to authors striking out on their own and trying to make things happen in the self-publishing world.

Related Posts:

I've Been Blogging for Eleven and a Half Months and Learned This 

Traveling to Other Places Can Help an Author's Writing 

The Three Most Difficult Facets of Writing for Me 

The Self-Publishing Game Is Rigged for Authors to Fail 

How My Spiritual Journey Affected How I Write 

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