Blog Post: Self-Publishing

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Full Member
Feb 3, 2024
New blog post by Claire G – discussions in this thread, please
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I decided to self-publish my contemporary romances after unsuccessful attempts at the traditional route. There are pros and cons to making this decision and lots of issues to consider. Will you pay someone to edit and format your novel? What about the cover design? What platform/s should you upload to? How will you market the book and ensure that it is discoverable in the vast sea of already-published works? Can you even compete with books which have been through the traditional cycle of professional production, have access to bookshops and supermarkets, and a decent marketing budget?



Why?

I think there are two key reasons to self-publish. One is the control that you retain as the author, over all aspects of the process, the other is the higher royalties that you receive (no commission to a literary agent, no sharing of the spoils with the publisher). If you ‘make it’, like Beatrix Potter, Hugh Howey and Colleen Hoover, it can be incredibly rewarding. But what if you don’t? What do you get out of it? A book in your hand, that’s what, the knowledge that it’s out there and being read, the thrill of receiving that first five star review from someone other than a friend or family member. There’s nothing like it.



Why Not?

But authors like Howey and Hoover are the exception, not the rule. Self-publishing can be a constant uphill battle. Traditionally-published authors receive an advance, professional editorial support, design and publicity/marketing teams (though I hear that self-promotion is needed more and more even when authors take the traditional route – either way, this is not great news for introverts!). Self-publishing can also be time-consuming and costly, depending on how much time and money an author is willing to invest. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to get your book in front of readers. In addition, there’s the undeniable fact that readers will review your book by holding it to the same standard as a professionally-published book, so it had better be the best you can make it!



Experience

So how did I go about it? I opted for Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon’s self-publishing platform, because of its share of the market. Because I wanted the process to be as professional as possible, I used a reputable company for proof reading, cover design, formatting and uploading. I’ll admit, it was also because I was daunted by the whole thing and fearful of doing a bad job.

I was naïve; I assumed sales would be immediate. I had no awareness of how difficult it was to get a novel discovered by readers. So what did I do? I uploaded my book to Goodreads and started interacting there, with some traction; tried Amazon promotions and Facebook ads, with little success; I offered Giveaways to boost awareness and reviews; I promoted on social media; I used Book Cave for reach; I contacted bloggers and the purchaser for my local libraries, receiving positive responses; and I got an editorial review, though this had zero impact.

It’s been a year and a half since that first book, The Strange Imagination of Pippa Clayton, was published, and I’ve learned a lot. It’s currently got twenty-four ratings with an average of 4.3 stars, and thirteen reviews on Amazon UK. My three books have been read and largely enjoyed in multiple countries. It’s a far cry from the dizzy heights of bestseller status, but when I look at the books on my shelf, I’m proud and, importantly, motivated to keep going, to keep learning, to keep writing.



Final Thoughts

Have you self-published? What has your experience been like?

If you haven’t, would you consider it? Why/why not?
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By @Claire G
Get the discussion going – post your thoughts & comments in the thread below…
 
Claire, I continue to be so impressed by you. Great blog post. And huge kudos to you for self-publishing and taking a bite out of the apple! Going for it. Doing it. And then having the grace to share your experience and what you've learned. Thank you.

I've ignored the daunting question "now what?" by just continuing to write! But once I finish my current book, I'll dust off the sand I've hidden in and will first try the trad pub route. The self-pub route is just so daunting. Somehow being rejected over and over is less daunting? Thing is I have a lot of patience and a thick skin, and I can bang on that trad pub drum a long time before calling it quits. I reckon I could write a whole new book while slowly and methodically banging on that drum. You never really fail until you quit, right? lol.
 
Hi Claire,

I have self-published four novels now with very limited success with the reason being the time I spent marketing the books - it was zero time spent on marketing because I had began writing the next novel. However, I have learned a lot. I did do some advertising with Amazon for Delphian, but it cost me a fortune - you really need to finely use keywords and phrases which accurately apply to the novel. We can talk about that if you want, possibly in a huddle?

I had a memoir traditionally published and for the first six weeks had an individual assigned to the book coordinating publicity - he seemed to call me everyday with one thing or another. It was an interesting time. The publicist sent out copies to reviewers and I had TV and radio interviews organised and the book sold well, then one day the publicity support stopped. I asked my agent (at the time) why and apparently once they've regained the advance, the publicity department move on to the next project...

So now I find myself deciding what to do with my current project, which is a series. I have written the first two and I'm currently writing the third (plan to finish by the end of June). I have an offer from a publisher in the USA to publish the first novel, but the publication date is 2026 - I'm not happy about that and I have a firm self-publishing marketing plan - give the first novel away for free or 0.99p and make money selling the second, third, fourth fifth, sixth etc... I did give Delphian away for free once and had two thousand downloads in a day or so, but didn't have a sequel the readers would have to buy! This time it will be an unlimited series and with the first novel for free or 0.99p I intend only marketing that book to grow a readership for the following novels... So, soon now, I intend to reject the offer by the traditional publisher. If they come back with a new, closer publication date I may reconsider.

But what now excites me more than ever about Amazon is Kindle Unlimited. I have worked out that I earn around £2 per book on the pages read of my thrillers, so Original Earth will definitely be available on Kindle Unlimited. Also, once I have finished the third novel, I will spend the next year only marketing the first novel - okay, so I know I will start the fourth, I won't be able to help myself, but at least every morning will be spent marketing.

Also, you mentioned editing costs. Before self-publishing any novel, I will first make the audiobook. Through reading aloud you will correct all grammar and typos so you end up with clean text. I have made two audiobooks - one is available, The Drama Merchant. There's a sample on Amazon. Apart from A Seed Once Sown, which needs a new cover, I think my cover designs are good and I did it all my self.

Yes, self-publishing does take time and marketing is a full time job. But I'm going back in now with a plan. that hopefully makes the difference.. :)
 

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