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4 Things I Wish I Knew Before Self-Publishing a Book

4 Things I Wish I Knew Before Self-Publishing a Book

“Dude, you should totally write a book!”

Maybe you’ve heard that before or it’s just something you’ve always wanted to do. But writing is only part of what it takes to get a book in the hands of eager readers.

Self-publishing is all the rage these days but there’s still a lot to learn for a first time author.

As I write this article, my book has officially been released for five months. Sales are steady but I’m ready to get back to writing.

Get back to writing? Didn’t I just “write” a book?

Yes, but the majority of my last six months has been spent getting the book ready for sale.

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So before you start down the self-publishing road, here are a few things to take into consideration.

1. Once You Finish Writing, Expect More Work

I finished writing my book in December of 2011; the book was officially available on Amazon the first week in June 2012. I used CreateSpace for editing, internal design, and publishing. I used my sister for cover design.

I could have cut down on time if I’d simplified my internal design and cover—or just used CreateSpace for the cover design as well. But it was my first baby and I wanted the cover to be awesome and knew my sister would do a great job (which she did!). So I was happy to wait while she designed my cover between a full-time job and single motherhood.

The copy editing process with CreateSpace was fairly easy. Once submitted, it only took a few weeks to get my first manuscript back with tracked changes. After that, I made changes and used family and friends to proof read. Depending on your manuscript length, (mine was around 32K words,) this takes time.

One thing I would have done differently is be more diligent about format checking the Word document before submitting the final manuscript for proof printing. Things like two En dashes (- -) instead of one Em dash (—) which looked fine in the manuscript due to the font I used showed up all over the place in the printed proof. Of course this is what proofing is for, but with CreateSpace you only get so many corrections for free so you might end up having to prioritize what changes are made or pay extra.

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2. The Headaches of Paperback

Every aspiring author wants to see his or her name in print. I can attest to the fact that it’s a pretty cool feeling. There’s nothing like holding your book in your hands for the first time. However, when it came time to market and set pricing, the print version added some extra headache to pricing options.

Let me explain…

My main sales strategy was to consist of online sales through my website. The goal is to set pricing in a way that encourages people to purchase an eBook bundle—PDF, .mobi, and .epub—via my website since Amazon.com takes 40% of the print books list price. Yeah, you read that correctly, 40%. But they also have the ability to reach millions of potential readers.

I can way overanalyze things and probably spent unnecessary time worrying about how to price these different formats (Kindle, Print, PDF, etc.) to maximize profits and reach. Two goals which seem to conflict with each other; future testing will reveal some insights no doubt.

At this point, I still have a lot of testing to do as far as pricing, but it would have been a lot simpler to offer only a Kindle and/or eBook bundle. Nonetheless, I’m not sure I would have done it any differently for my first book. It’s just something to think about.

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3. Blurb Requests

When it came time to request blurbs, I wanted to send out a copy of my manuscript that had been through at least one round of copy editing to avoid most grammar or spelling errors. This was pretty late in the game and thus added time waiting (and praying) for responses.

Everyone wants’ the best blurbs for their book, but requesting them takes a special knack that I’m not quite sure I navigated correctly. I did get some awesome blurbs, but it’s hard to know if I did it the right way. I just tried to think of how I would prefer to be approached, and what would make it easier for me?

Some suggest sending an “example” blurb in your request so all they have to do is tweak it a little and add their name to it. This seemed awful presumptions to me, but I did have better luck once I started using this approach.

Next time I’ll spend more time revising my rough draft and start sending it out a lot sooner.

4. Trailer video

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Being in the non-fiction (self-help) niche, I’ve seen other authors use interview styled trailers with success so I decided to have one created for my first book.

Although there’s no way to tell how much impact my trailer has had on sales at this point, I’m not sure I would do it again. It added additional time and money to the project, so the jury is still out on its effectiveness. At some point, I’ll A/B test the sales page to see how it affects conversions.

Another use for the trailer will be to promote on YouTube and other video sites. I purchased a handful of easy-to-remember domain names around topic keywords that redirect to my sales page with logic to track where the sales originated. This will allow me to track traffic from assets like free eBooks, newsletters, podcast, etc. to know what’s working.

Distribution is another area for consideration. For example, do you use Amazon only or do you use a service such as Smashwords.com to distribute the eBook version to multiple sites?

Yeah… there’s a lot to think about and it can get overwhelming at times.

So even though I’ll approach my next self-published project a little differently, I learned valuable lessons. If there’s one piece of advice I could give to anyone considering self-publishing, it would be determine what your budget is and bootstrap the things you can’t afford. But most importantly, kick procrastination to the curb and just do it!

Featured photo credit:  book of fantasy stories via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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