Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Two Cents on "An Honest Look At Self-Publishing" by Willow Cross...

So, most of what I'm going to post here today comes from the most awesome Willow Cross. I met Ms. Cross through Facebook and like most of us we formed a common friendship in our efforts to Take Over the World, MUHAHAHAHAHA!

Ok, that's not the whole of the bond, but you get the idea...

If you'd like to join us in this endeavor, head on over and just give her page a like (linked above) and then join our quest to get to 4,000 Minions!

Anyway, she posted something interesting on her blog the other day, An Honest Look At Self-Publishing and I thought you folks here might enjoy it too!

Now, in her post she dispels a lot of common Myths about what we do as non-traditional or Indie Authors and I really liked it. It's honest, funny and oh so very true!

But, I wanted to add in my two cents worth too, so here goes...

1.  I can quit my day job because the book is live and sales will be more than enough to pay my bills.

Ms. Willow says FALSE and I couldn't agree more!!! Now, is that to say that isn't the end goal of this? Why, sure it is! I love to write and would love to be able to write full-time. But the honest reality of it is, like most, it falls squarely on *my* shoulders to pay the bills and that requires a...*shudders* day job that isn't full of fantasy worlds and hot smexy book boyfriends...

2.  As soon as my book releases, my reader base will grow exponentially.

Ms. Willow and I both agree. This is 100% FALSE! It's taken me and her I'm sure, months of interacting on Facebook, Twitter and the various Yahoo Groups to which I belong to build up any sort of realistic fan base. And even then, you have to consistently maintain it! You have to be around, answer emails, interact with those fans that *have* taken the time to like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter and reply to the numerous emails you get on a daily basis.

TRUTH: If you *do* this though, if you "hang out" on Facebook, or at the very least respond to posts on your timeline and Author page, tweet and re-tweet stuff, they will come. It's a matter of time, fortitude and patience. AND giving your fans something to talk about. This means along with the interaction, occasionally give them something, anything book related.

This does NOT mean spam the bejesus out of them though! Even I, as a reader get tired of seeing "Buy my book, buy my book, buy my book..."

3.  My friends and the people on my fan page will share all my links and soon everyone will have heard of me.

Again, Ms. Willow and I are of the same mind. This is FALSE, especially with all the changes going on with Facebook. Now, I've 'ranted' about this, as have many others, and at this point, all we can do is find those ways to work around the algorithms FB is constantly jacking up! This is not as easy as it sounds, but we're slowly figuring it out as we go...as are so many others. At this point, the best thing you can do, if you truly want to see what your favorite Author is posting, once you've liked a page, hover over the like button and check the "Get Notifications" feature. This does not always work 100% of the time, but it's a start! And I thank you if you do that on my Author's page, I really do! ;)

4.  I have hundreds of authors on my friend’s list.  They will help me get the word out!

This couldn't be more FALSE! Like a lot of other Authors I interact with them too. I respond to their posts on my Newsfeed, I enter their contests, I donate to their contests. Would I ever, EVER ask them to pimp my work? No, I wouldn't. They have their own work and promotions to worry about and like me, may and/or may not have a lot of time to do it in. Me, asking them to pimp me, isn't fair. Now, that's not to say I won't <3 them forever if they do, but still, I would never ask...

And honestly, most of the other Authors that share *my* stuff, know I'll do the same in return. I've proven that I will, that I don't mind sharing their news, attending their release parties, blogging their releases and cover reveals, and entering/donating to their giveaways! It truly is a tit-for-tat kind of business we're in and you have to be prepared for that...

5.  I have 150 NYTs bestselling authors on my friend’s list.  I’ll have them read and review my book!

Again, quite FALSE! And besides that, I would never, EVER do this! Now, if they ask me, totally different story, but that's never happened and is not likely too. I have no expectation of it and neither should you. Not at the start at least.

Now, that's not to say I think they are any better than me. They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like me. What I do know is, they've paid their dues in this business and while we both may work an equal amount to polish our work, tighten it, get it out to the world, they have just been doing it longer than me...at this point at least.

I will say, the ones I've interacted with so far though have been super nice and patient when I have a total fangirl moment! (And no, I won't drop any names *cough* Jill Slavis *cough* Lori Foster *cough*, other than to say I love them both and I am truly, first and foremost, a fan! :D )

6.  My book cover is good enough.  People will read the blurb and know what it’s about.

Oh no no no! Please do NOT be this deluded when you start your journey into Indie Publishing. Please, just don't. Your cover is the first thing and sometimes the ONLY thing a reader, potential new fan will see of your work! So, it has to be as eye-catching as you can make it! And it truly does need to fit the story.

For example: If you see the Spi-Corp covers, both the ones that are currently out, Book 1 & 2, you *know* they are Science Fiction at the very least. They just have that feel to them as will all 18 of the books in the series. And I just heart Carey Abbott and S Cu' Policar for all their hard work on them! Without them, I couldn't do what I do! Trust me!

7.  I don’t need an editor.  I got good grades in English and I have spell check.

Again, please do NOT be this deluded! You need an editor! Something I found out the hard way but, I'm correcting! Just be patient, m'kay??

8.  My book is awesome.  Good reviews will pour in and that will sell my books!

Oh boy...

Yeah, this is probably the worst expectation you can have, especially if you're going to self-publish! Now, don't get me wrong, reviews are helpful and I love all my readers who post them, I really do. They let me know where I might have messed up and I always take them constructively, I really do!

But...the only real time they help you *sell* your work, on their own, is if Amazon or B&N or Smashwords or aRe pick them up as a positive sign and start helping you promote. But, realistically, this is way down the line...for most of us.

Now, is this to say the exception doesn't happen? Of course it does, but are you likely to *be* that exception? No, you're not. Am I? Nope. I haven't been, but that's ok. I didn't step onto this path with that expectation...

In conclusion, the reality here is that you *must* keep your expectations low and realistic. Don't expect to sell a Million copies right out of the gate with your first book. (Celebrate it if you do, but don't count on it!)

And if you simply must have numbers, set them in a range you can live with. (When I started, I said to myself, if I sell thirty copies of my first book in the first month, I'm happy. Did I? Actually, yes, I did. Was I happy? I was ecstatic!)

But, most of all, have fun. Enjoy the success that you published that first book, no matter how good or poorly it does. And if it does do poorly, do your very best to figure out why.

If you don't meet your realistic goals, ask yourself, IS IT THE WORK? Or, is it the cover? The blurb? What?!?!?!

Poll people. Ask for advice from other Authors and take that seriously when they give it. But, do so respectfully. Don't demand their help, ask it with  a "Hey, if you have a minute...could I get your opinion?" And if they say no, do NOT take it personally because it probably isn't. Most likely it will boil down to they just don't have the time to help. (And honestly, most will say that...)

Anyway, that's my two cents - ok, this blog turned into more like a half-dollar's - worth of advice on Self-Publishing. Feel free to use it, or don't. The choice is yours...

Until next time!

Thanks as always for stopping by.

Margaret Taylor


  1. Great post, Margaret. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. Very true. You are only as good as your last book and the best thing you can do is keep writing! More books=more readers!