1. JayAnthony
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    JayAnthony New Member

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    I just self-published my second book on Amazon. Here are my thoughts thus far.

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by JayAnthony, Feb 26, 2015.

    Writing has been a hobby of mine for a few years now, so I decided to begin exploring the world of self-publishing. I wouldn't consider myself a stellar word magician, so the thought of submitting my work to a publishing company was relatively intimidating. I also didn't want to wait months and months for possible rejection, so I felt self-publishing was a better choice for me. I just published my second book through Amazon's KDP and I wanted to share a few thoughts and tips about the process for those who are considering doing the same.

    1.) Know your software. Even if you have the cash to hire someone to format your work for you, I highly suggest learning the ropes of formatting on your own. The two programs I use are Calibre (which is freeware) and Jutoh (which, if I'm not mistaken, is around $35). I've tried using Sigil in the past, but the learning curve is much higher. For the most part, Jutoh is super easy to use as long as you dedicate some time to learning it. If you have any questions about the formatting process, shoot me a PM.

    2.) Make sure your book looks professional. Even if the content is spectacular, the formatting speak volumes to the quality of your work. If you have headings mismatched, bullet points scattered everywhere, and font sizes changing every other page, it's going to give the connotation of laziness and carelessness. "Don't judge a book by it's cover" doesn't apply to the Amazon store. The cover is the very first thing your potential buyer is going to see, so you need to make sure it stands out. If you don't have artistic abilities, hire a graphic designer to make your book cover. If you check out websites like freelancer.com, you should be able to find someone to build you a cover for no more than a couple hundred bucks. If you don't have the money, it doesn't hurt to at least attempt making a cover on your own. Luckily I have some design background, and I can tell you from experience that making a cover isn't that hard. I personally use the online photo editor pixler.com for my covers. It's very easy to use.

    3.) Don't expect huge sales your first, second, and third weeks. The first book I published had a very niche audience and I marketed to them well, but at the end of my 5 day free promotion I only had around 200 downloads. Since then I've only sold 10 copies including one paperback edition. What I've learned is this: people don't like spending money unless they are guaranteed a good product. What specifies a good product on Amazon are the ratings, and the fact of the matter is you won't have many reviews right out of the gate. My book has been on sale for almost two weeks and only one person has left a review. It's a slow start, but if you continue spreading the word about your book more people will buy it, which results in more reviews, which results in more annual downloads. Don't drop the ball just because your book isn't doing well.

    4.) Marketing doesn't have to cost money. If your book pertains to a specific subject or genera, seek out forums which pertain to your book's content. Create a presence on that forum by making posts about your book and messaging the users. DON'T USE A FORUM SOLELY FOR MARKETING. If you don't actually contribute to the community and continue spamming your links throughout the forum, you'll be labeled as a scam artist and no one is going to take your work seriously. There's also a chance you will be banned by the administrators. Market your book as an appetizer, not the main course. Also, seek out websites which pertain to your content and message the people behind the scenes, asking them if they would be willing to share your book directly on their website, or through social media. If you get a response back, most of the time it is a "sure, why not."

    5.) Know your audience. Trust me, if you start writing a book just because you think it's good, no one is going to buy it. Make sure you actually have an audience which is interested. Research isn't hard, nor does it take that much time, so be sure to do your homework before slamming out an entire book.

    6.) Give your book away! I always get funny looks when I tell people this, but it is one of the most important things you can do (at least for a while). Amazon lets you do a free 5 day promotion, and if you don't use it you are cheating yourself out of tons of potential reviews. When people hear that a book is FREE, they are much more likely to read it. So, when you are messaging users and making posts, just say something along the lines of "I'd like to offer this book to you for free. If you like it, it would be great if you could leave a review." There you go. You just earned not only a reader, but a potential review as well. Also, understand that most people don't have a Kindle. Because of this, it's best to mention that if they can't download it, you would be happy to send them a PDF of your book. Then provide them with a link to your official Amazon page so they can leave a review.

    That's about it! It's been a really amazing experience and I highly recommend everyone give self-publishing a shot, especially if you have a few short things you'd like to make public. It's definitely exciting to see someone appreciate your work so much that they put a monetary value on it.

    If you guys have any questions, feel free to PM me. I'm here to help!

    Have a good day, and happy publishing! -Jay Anthony
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2015
  2. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    The only thing I would disagree with is the part about writing to the market. I could never write that way. I write what I like and want to see out there in print (or e-print). The fact that no one was telling stories the way I wanted was a big part of why I took up writing in the first place.
     
  3. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Thanks for providing some useful thoughts about self-publishing.

    No thanks for spamming the membership of the other forum via PM with a link to your book, which got you banned, as you suggested in #4.
     
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  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, this is primarily a writing forum, where we help each other learn writing techniques, publishing techniques, etc. This is not a forum for alerting people to your finished work, either for sale or as freebie downloads.

    There is a thread on this forum where members can advertise their books (don't know the rules about this, as I'm not yet an exalted 'published' author and haven't explored the option.) But joining this forum mostly to promote your own work is not really encouraged. This is an interactive, critique-based forum.

    However, your advice and experience is good, @JayAnthony , so welcome! :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
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  5. JayAnthony
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    JayAnthony New Member

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    I understand. I primarily wrote that book to help other writers overcome their writing block and inspire new ideas. It's hard to help people when they don't know the book exists, so I did "spam" to some degree. Learned my lesson though.
     
  6. JayAnthony
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    JayAnthony New Member

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    Hey Bryan! I agree with you to some extent. What I really mean by this is someone writing a book about something completely obscure which no one wants to read and still expecting sales. I understand it isn't all about the money, but let's face it- unless you are selling your book for free, that's sort of a big factor when you self-publish. I agree that writers should write what they want to write, and they have the freedom to do so, but what draws an audience is producing a storyline which people can adhere to. This doesn't mean others should dictate the direction of your work, but your audience should inspire content which is relevant to their lives.
     
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  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is one of those things where there's no absolutes really. If you want a readership, then I'm afraid you do have to care what your readers might assume, like, expect etc, unless you don't actually care about getting readership. I'm not into the whole "I'm a writer writing a masterpiece of art, and conventions, genre, guidelines, SPAG are all below me in the face of Art with a capital A!" (I'm not saying you are that way, but there're some who are like this)

    I think in this case, what matters is a middle ground. If you deviate from what the market expects, do it for a good reason - perhaps it really does make sense for this story, perhaps it's for personal reasons or moral reasons, perhaps it makes your story different in a good way, etc. If you choose to experiment with something really new when you already have other books out, it might be wise to write under a different name so readers you already have don't expect something that they just won't get with this new book (and a safeguard in case the experiment fails).

    But I think what you should do (not you personally - just generally) is to write something that you love and think your readers will love. There's nothing wrong with knowing your market, and there's nothing wrong with writing what you love - the magic happens when you manage to find the happy middle where you manage both.
     
  8. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can only speak for myself, with the qualifier that I didn't set out to make money or sell a lot of books but to fill a niche that was not being met (perhaps because no one wanted to read it). But I never once considered what the public wanted. I wrote to satisfy my own interests and artistic sense and then threw it out there.

    In fact I know a single change that would probably greatly increase my sales, but it would not interest me to deal with it, so I don't.

    On the other hand I do have a faithful readership and it is growing, so I'm satisfied.
     
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  9. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    I think the "Know your market" suggestion is good, if you keep it just that. It's useful to be aware what people will want/expect from your book, or which parts some of them might not like. And then you do whatever you want to do with the knowledge.
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well then it sounds like maybe you've hit that happy middle without even intending to :) It's also true that when we write from our souls and what truly inspires us, that authenticity of emotion shows through, and that's what usually attracts readers in the first place.
     
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  11. United
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    United Member

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    Wait, you said you sold one paperback copy? How? Amazon only provides ebook services unless you're with an actual publisher selling printed copies through Amazon??? Or am I wrong about this?
     
  12. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    There are various ways to sell paperbacks through Amazon; the easiest is by uploading a print-on-demand book to Createspace, which Amazon now own.
     
  13. Nethereon
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    Nethereon New Member

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    This is very, very true. I have talked with artists on Deviant Art, another professional and freelance artist website, about making cover art. Surprisingly, it isn't as bad as you would think to get something commissioned. The cool part is, once you pay for the commission, you gain the rights to use the piece in any way you wish, as long as you tell the artist the purpose of the commission (or at least that was how it was explained to me by one of the artists I contacted).
     
  14. Lilith_Duat
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    Lilith_Duat Member

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    No, that's just the terms of the particular artist you commissioned. Different artists will have different terms. Sometimes the right to the image will cost more. Like, maybe you'll have to pay more for the right to use the cover image for t-shirts or posters.
     
  15. domenic.p
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    domenic.p Banned

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    It's not suggested a writer write to the market.

    When a manuscript is sold to a publisher, it then has to go through several steps. Many people have to say yes. This could take three to ten months. Then it goes to the printer. A writer may have to wait one, or two years before his book is in the stores…by this time, it is anybody’s guess what will be selling.

    Write what you want, and find an agent who sells that genre. If you take note, writers who sell stay with one genre. This is how the system works, and it’s not good. Since big money ate up the little book stores, books are sold in mega-stores like B&N. These mega-stores are the main outlet for publishers.

    Here is what the publishers are up against. Under federal Law, they cannot own their outlets…it’s the same with the movie companies. Those who make motion pictures, can’t own the movie theaters. They used to, but uncle sugar changed all that. Now the big book stores contract with a publisher. They tell the publisher what they will buy, and not buy…that is why you see so many picture books in these stores. The publisher must pay for shelf space…that is why publisher don’t want thick books from new writers. If a book does not sell within an agreed time, the publisher must buy the books back. You can find many of these in a 99 cent store…so the publisher gets back less than 99 Cents…that does not pay for building the book. If you were a publisher, and loved a new story from Jane Doe, but the mega-stores won’t buy that type of book, what would you do? You would have to reject the book.

    Maybe in the future publishers will sell everything via the net…problem is, most buyers want to hold something in their hand, and are on the spot buyers. If they don’t like the product, they can put it down, and walk away. If they have to order it, and don’t like it, returning, and getting their money back is a pain in the butt…if they have a return agreement.

    Just write, send it to an agent that sell that genre, and go from there. You may want to visit B&N, and see what they plan on ordering next year…not much help, but take every edge you can.
     
  16. *bren
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    *bren New Member

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    Thanks for the tip on Calibre - I'm new here and this is a good start - I guess learning my way around the software is a good way forward.
     
  17. S Barnwell
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    S Barnwell Member

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    Thanks for the advice about calibre - I've just finished writing my own book and needed to convert it to electronic copy so that's perfect :)
     
  18. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Sorry, I cannot agree with number 5. At all.

    There is no way I'm going out of my way to write the story that pleases someone else. If I did that, it wouldn't be full of the passion, pride and commitment that my books have in abundance. I write for me, I write the stories which I want to read because up to yet, no-one else has wrote those stories and if a few people out there happen to come across my stories and like them, then, yay!

    That is one thing I will not be swayed on.
     
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  19. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is the most difficult thing for me to accept. I think my shit smells fantastic.
     
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  20. United
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    United Member

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    Prove it.

    LOL. :D
     

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