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Has your experience with self publishing been positive or negative?
For those of you who have self published a book (either physical or ebook), how would you say your experience was overall? Please consider things like production costs, self promotion, sales and reviews. What is the best thing about it and what is the worst?
I found self publshing a wonderful experience. I got to be creative and I got to make my own book covers. The promtion though, I still do not like and would rather outsource it.
Overall my experience with self publishing has been positive, but to paraphrase from a quote, “Publishing is easy, Marketing and Selling are hard.”
There are a number of sites out there that can help you publish both E books and real books, but just to publish is only one step in the process. You can get a book published for free.
Lulu, smashwords, and novelhelp are good sites to go to. There are others, and those that tell you they can get you out there for a fee, do extra research them. Get verifiable references.
Self publishing is the direction I chose because I am retired and to be honest I don't have time to wait while someone else decides if they will invest in publishing my book. This is a two edge sword. There is a stigma attached to self publishing, partly valid, but the Traditional Publishing industry likes being the gate keepers of what the world reads. While this has its merits it also limits who says what gets published, and the traditional publishers have an interest in making money, which can make them suspect.
If you have a strong networking community, a group of people who will read your material and provide all the levels of critic necessary for quality work, and you have time to do some self promotion, then self publishing is definitely the way to go.
When all is said and done, if you have connection to the traditional publishing world, go that route first. Be advised that if you are a first time writer be prepared to do much of the same work if you self publish, after all a publisher will spend more time with Stephen King than you, unless your book or you have an edge worth showcasing.
Author of Jonas Watcher: The Case of the Running Bag
The first time I published RAVENFEAST was through Authorhouse. I don't think they knew 1. what they were dealing with, 2. the significance of the subject matter or 3. the market.
Take the first part, the cover designer sent me an image of the raven reversed across itself, creating a 'comic' effect. It wasn't until I pointed this out to them that they realised the cock-up.
The second part was ignorance of the subject matter: the 'Conquest' era. I wanted to be able to sign books at Battle Abbey, where the third conflict that year (1066) took place, and where Harold fell -
Which brings me to their third failing, pricing. They asked me what price I would like to see the book launched at. I suggested less than £10. The page count in the standard format came to over 500, and I've seen paperbacks of the genre around that price for that length. But no, they had to on put a tag of £17.97, thus killing it stone dead. I had a few sales, but only to some people I knew, less than ten.
I tore them off a strip, but they seemed non-plussed at my reaction.
So I went over to New Generation. Now, after re-formatting the first two to 9 X 6 inch page size as the next two were, all the books retail @ $8.99. A much fairer price, I think you'd agree. They are also all available on Amazon Kindle @ around £3.99 ($5.40) at the average exchange rate.
I didn't go into writing to give books away, the amount of research I've done, the time taken to write and edit, but nor do I think I'd get away with over-charging. Time will bear that out.
For the most part, I'd say it's been a very positive experience. The best part is I can write what I want, when I want, and how I want without some agent or publisher trying to rush me or get me to change parts of my story simply to make it, according to them, "more marketable". I mentioned the latter because it seems a lot of agents want some cookie-cutter story that's just like everything else out there. But that's my opinion. The worst part is having to all my marketing myself. I'm still learning how to do that.
I love self-publishing, but it really is a lot of work, both to get the books ready to publish, and to promote them. I did a monthly subscription e-zine on my own for 7 years, and there were months when subscription renewals were what kept me afloat. I also printed my own books for a while, before switching over to CreateSpace. I make less per copy with Createspace, but I also don't have to keep up with printing and shipping, so it works out for me.
Marketing is really the toughest part. I don't recommend self-publishing unless you already have a following, or an email list, or some avenue to speak directly to people who already like your work. I was lucky, because I already had that before I went into business for myself.
I opened a website through Webeden, write here, opened pages on My Book Buzz, plug my books on Amazon author pages, through Twitter and I joined up with LinkedIn. I'm also at Battle Abbey this weekend (1066 commemoration) to give talks, sign books
I've found it to be a really positive experience. I've published 5 non-fiction ebooks now and am writing the first in what will be a 5 book series now. Some of my books are just on Amazon (I like the promotional opportunities that come with KDP select) and I have a couple available via Barnes & Noble, iBooks etc too..
I've done most of the work, from formatting to promoting, myself and it's been a sharp learning curve, but I've really enjoyed it. I kept costs to an absolute minimum, but did outsource the stuff I just couldn't make a decent job of, like cover design. I'm certainly well in profit now (15 months after I started) and the monthly payments from Amazon are (almost) passive income - Not completely as I do some marketing each month, but again mainly free stuff like blogging, social media etc.
The worst part for a non-techie like me is definitely the technical stuff. Part of the reason I stick with Amazon is that they make it very easy. The last book I tried to upload via Smashwords kept having tech difficulties with the formatting etc. The best part is definitely getting positive reviews or emails (via my website) from readers who enjoyed my books.
It was negative. I had the book but no money to promote. So it sits on Amazon and none get sold. But I can say I wrote one.
You say you have a book on amazon, what's the title?
"Love Believes All Things - A Love Story In Verse." by Robert Smith. (that's me) It is a story of a young boy that receives a doll that changes his life beginning when he was young and follows his life all the way through his death.
I'm still learning marketing, but you have to be positive about such things. Your little comment here has stirred some interest. If you have Facebook, drop an excerpt every once in awhile. Talk it up on blogs and forums, where appropriate.
I self publish a couple of books on Amazon Kindle and it was a good experience. My problem was I didn't have an internet presence established. There is so much competition it is very hard to stand out in Amazon. I ended up reformatting these books and using them as a lead magnet to gather emails and subscribers to my blog. I will continue to build my presence with my blog website and social media. I see great opportunity in self publishing - but it takes time and hard work to get your books to sell.
Best of Luck
Life is learning and so is any new activity.
I agree with many other self-publishers, marketing and sales are a tough one, but there are many things you can do to overcome this hurdle. Persistence in marketing is the first thing. Write more books is another. If one of your later books becomes a bestseller, then your early works might be caught up in the mania to get more, more, more of your creativity.
Publishing is time consuming whether it is self-publishing or traditional. You need to get over the idea that you can dash off a few quick pages and make a million. There may be exceptions to this, but they are too rare to use them in any calculations.
Self-publishing through Amazon's CreateSpace or Lulu is very, very inexpensive. Your only hard cost is the purchase of one copy of your own book for review, but you can skip this if you're confident everything will look okay. So, the cost could be zero. Producing an ebook is even cheaper.
Some have recommended spending a little money on a professionally done cover and editing. This is excellent advice, especially if you are not a designer or an experienced editor. But even editors will recommend having someone else look over your work with a critical eye. It's too easy to miss things in your own writing, because you know what it's supposed to say. You know what it all means. Your reader doesn't have that luxury of prior or insider knowledge.
But even if you don't have money for such things, I would suggest going for it. You could end up spending zero, promoting your book online using many different techniques (Facebook, Amazon marketing techniques, blog comments, forum posts, etc). The main thing is to get your book out there. Do as good a job as you can and then make it available.
Everyone has something to say that can help others in life. I think getting it out there to help others or to inspire or entertain them is too important. Don't sit on your creativity. Share!
I have never worked with any of the traditional vanity presses. They charge up to several thousand dollars to produce, edit, design and market your book. Some vanity presses have been scams. Others may be legitimate, but I've never been interested in using their services.
Traditional publishers frequently give an advance on royalties, which is nice, but then they usually don't promote the book, relying on the author to do that.
I wrote an ebook several years ago and sold it off a page on my big website. I have made a nice amount of money with this, but I am not selling many nowadays, because with all the Google changes, my site is not attracting but a small fraction of what it did several years ago.
I have run out of inexpensive ways to boost my traffic, and I dread the ideal of a major site overhall.
I also sell a how to video product. The same story as the above example.
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