Self-publishing: Six Hangups To Forget About

Having a career in self-publishing requires a certain mindset. Here are six things ways you could be wasting your time:

1. Print books

Sure, it’s awesome to see your books in print. So you offer them for sale via CreateSpace, Lightning Source, Lulu or whatever. Yes, do order a couple so you can sell them to your colleagues or give them to your mother or whatever.

Don’t, however, believe that you have to go schlepping these books to bookstores, get newspaper interviews, do book signings etc. etc. OK if you like doing this, but as long as you understand that unless there is a special event on or your sales are starting to take off (and I mean you sell thousands of books a day), this is not an effective use of your time.

2. Industry reviews

Nobody who buys self-published ebooks cares. Maybe a *little* bit if your book is literary fiction. But that’s it. Don’t waste your time worrying about industry reviews (or paying for them).

3. “Agents/publishers/editors know nothing”

This attitude can hurt you, like, a lot. Sure, there are many things that Big Publishing does less efficiently than a self-published author, but assessing the market and assessing a book’s readiness to be published is NOT ONE OF THOSE THINGS. These people see thousands and thousands of manuscripts. THEY KNOW how to tell the voice of a competent writer whose craft is adequate. They know the issues that gets modern readers’ eyes rolling.


Sure, some of the advice concerns personal hangups, and some of it will not apply to you, but here is the thing: no book has ever gotten worse by the author contemplating a different way to tell the story.

4. Bestseller lists and the one-book hit

You’re not going to get either. If you assume you will, your chances of getting a hit are even less. These are odds that strike in the night and no one knows how or why. Your career will be based on books that sell a little to fairly well, but not well enough to make it to any bestseller lists. Your career will be based on series and a lot of hard work. You need to put out new books regularly.

5. Being precious about your work

If an editor suggests changes, listen to this editor. Your books are not like babies, and writing a book is not like giving birth to a child. Seriously, the sooner that metaphor can die a painful death, the better. If you’ve never had a child, you’re welcome to try for comparison.

Write the book, edit it, publish it to the best of your capabilities. Write the next book. Don’t keep endlessly umming and erring over it.  You’re only as good as your next book. Books are entertainment. You’re selling to a digital crowd wanting primarily entertainment. Write the next fucking book already. Get it?

6. Social media/SEO/book trailers/”creating buzz”

This is all marketing-related bullshit. And that’s just it: it’s bullshit. People find you on social media after they’ve read your book, or maybe when you’re friends with someone who’s read your book, or with someone who is friends with someone in your friends list because they’re also a writer. Whatever.

There is no “buzz” (in inverted commas, because I HATE this bullshit word) until people have read your books and are awaiting the next instalment, and there are a LOT of people waiting. Hint: this happens to bestsellers. See point 4. Concentrate on the books, and the selling via social media thing may happen afterwards. Or it may not. Trying to focus too much on it is a waste of time.

Oh, SEO for dummies: for each blog post or page, decide which is the most relevant term you want people to search for and land on your page. For your site, that will be your name. For posts, that may be a book title or subject. Use that term in the title. Add an image to the post. That’s it. Yes, I’m breaking those rules in this post. Retweet it if you dare. *devil grin*

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