Need-to-know’s about Self-Publishing

Since becoming a self-published author I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what I do and how to publish. A lot of people have expressed their own desire of publishing and putting their content out there. I decided to write a little list of need-to-know since I had to do a lot of my own research and learning through making mistakes. If you’re considering self-publishing, these are all the things you should consider ahead of time.

  1. Self-Publishing is Easy, Selling is Not: To self-publish all you have to do is go onto a website like Amazon, make your account, upload your work, and you’re done. Truly, putting your work out there is the easiest part, selling it is not. You really do need to either get big on social media, or have friends who have an audience advertise for you. Rarely will people just stumble onto your book and take a chance. Basically, it’s a popularity contest and people will only show up if there are already people there telling others how great it is.
  2. It’s All On You: As much as everyone wants to be their own boss, it’s not as amazing as it sounds. Writing, editing, designing, cover art, marketing, there’s a lot! As great as you can become at all of these things, there will always be a need for another set of eyes. Hire an editor, at the very least. Even the best writers start spelling apple wrong after 10k words during an insomnia-driven midnight session of writing. Research about book design, or get an editor who knows how to set the book properties. It takes a lot to make writing fit into an actual book format, look at other work as reference so you make your work look as professional as possible.
  3. Don’t Get Scammed: There are a lot of bad people out there. I don’t necessarily mean devious people out there to rob you of your money, but those too. In general just be careful with where you put your work and who you trust with your money. The first editor I got was a nightmare. Sometimes work ethic can turn a deal into a scam just because the other person doesn’t know how to communicate and takes twice as long to get you the work. Be sure to get someone reliable and never fully pay up-front. The best practice split payments: half when they start, half when you get the finished product. If they don’t like that, it’s probably because they’re scamming you.
  4. Do Not Get Scammed!! pt. 2: Read reviews for where you want to publish. If you’re working with a company, a general rule is: if they’re really pushing to work with you, it’s because they’re fighting for that profit. They know they can get money off of you without putting too much money in. When I was younger I called a company to get information about their services and they continued to call me monthly for the next six months. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. My recommendation is Amazon, just because I’ve done two books there now; it’s free and you get a decent amount of the royalties. No scam, but also no help unless you pay for advertising. Not amazing, but not bad.
  5. It’s Not Easy Money: If you follow all my tips, you’ll end up with a good looking book, but you’ll also have spent a good chunk of money just getting things ready. This is a big investment, including an investment of time. I do not recommend self-publishing if you are currently struggling with money. Even if you do break-even, that money can take up to a month to be put into your bank account. You also have to sell quite a bit to break-even. Due to you only getting a percent of royalties (which is how it will work no matter where you go) you will not be getting the full $10-20 per sale. In fact, if you’re going through amazon, that 60% of royalties also has to pay for printing costs. My $12 book only gets me about $3 per sale. I need 350 sales to break-even. That might seem like a small amount but for someone who has a small audience, and a smaller bank account, that is a huge number.

Hopefully that answered some of your questions about self-publishing. It’s not exactly a step-by-step instruction manual but Amazon really does walk you through how to self-publish, and I think the information I gave is a lot more important. I wish you all the best of luck in your journey as an author!

Published by Johvan Calvo

I am a nerdy gay Mexican with a passion for story telling. Trying to find my way in this world but I don't think there's such a thing as a "perfect fit".

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