5 Lessons From Self-Publishing

happy first birthday

Today is the one-week birthday of HAUNT MY HEART, my first self-published book.

It’s not, however, my first book. My publishing career began last March with the release of Reap & Repent and continued in July with the release of Reap & Redeem by Harlequin E. I was pretty excited to sign with a big-name publisher even though it was a new, digital-only line.

Let me tell you. I’ve learned a lot in this past year, which is exactly why I self-published my ghost romance, Haunt My Heart.

1. The best thing about self-publishing is that you get to make ALL of the decisions.

After spending a year at the mercy of a very, very, speed-of-silence publisher, not having to ask anyone for permission, or an ARC, or a cover pic, or a timeline is nice. Self-publishing is sort of like being a construction contractor. You hire all out all of the work. Since those subcontractors work for you, you have the power and set the deadlines. Yeah. That’s really nice.

2. The worst thing about self-publishing is that you HAVE to make all of the decisions.

Sure, you get to hire out all of the work (Or do it yourself. Don’t.), but the problem is deciding who to choose. I googled until my eyes crossed, consulted with other authors I trusted, and agonized over each decision. Was this the right cover artist? Should I try to format it myself? Can I afford to pay an editor,  and then a copyeditor too?

It comes to the point where you just have to take a leap of faith and forge ahead. Not blindly, you’ve done some homework, but if you second guess each step, you’ll be paralyzed. Make a choice. Just do it.

The cool thing about being an independent author is if you discover you did make a mistake, you can fix it. Immediately. Without an email committee of gatekeepers to struggle through.

3. Money is not the root of all evil. Access to real-time sales statistics is.

Amazon shows me the money. And the stats. And the rankings. Dear sweet and fluffy lord.

After having very little insight into real-time sales and royalties, self-publishing is like being paroled. Or I assume it is. I’ve never been in actual jail. (No, that trespassing ticket didn’t count.) I published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct and CreateSpace where you can see if you’ve had a sale practically minute-by-minute…or not.

I swear if Amazon ever makes an author app that dings or sends  a notification for each sale and/or review, I’m sunk. I’m already addicted to obsessively refreshing the page on my phone and laptop. Yeah. It’s bad.

I’m the poster child for Pavlov’s dog.

4. Marketing is annoying. For you and for me.

I hate being THAT person on Twitter and Facebook, but if I’m not tooting the Haunt My Heart horn, who will? A big-time publisher sure didn’t. If someone knows of a better way, I’m all for it. The hardest thing about publishing is building a platform and finding your people. I’ve been following the Field of Dreams philosophy so far. If you build it, they will come.

5. You can make money and still not make a profit.

There are some amazing self-publishing success stories out there. Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey, Jacinda Wilder…you know the names. Of course, the dream is it could just as easily be YOU. Lightning could strike.

After my first week of sales, I’m pretty pleased. No lightning strikes, but I have earned 4.5x as much in one week being self-published as I did in two quarters with two traditionally published books. Yeah. That math makes your head hurt doesn’t it.

That said, I’m a long, long way from profitability.

But, I’m in this for the long-run, and I know you have to plant a lot of seeds sometimes before you can reap a harvest.

Good that I know a thing or two about reaping.

Want to read my first self-publishing effort? Lucky you! You can get it here:  Amazon Kindle     

HauntMyHeartFinal (533x800) - CopyBook Description:

A Civil War soldier dies to save his men. Can he find true love to live again?

Sarah Knight has a job she’s good at, a quirky BFF, and a boyfriend who’s bad for her. When Sarah unearths a Civil War artifact on a ghost hunt at Chatham Manor, she brings home more than a souvenir.

Lieutenant James “Tanner” Dawson fought for the Union, working as a supernatural liaison for his Major General in a secret Masonic offset called the Brothers of Peril. When he’s hexed by a witch, he learns the only way to save his men is to die himself. But death is not the end. Awakening 150 years later, he knows if he wants to be corporeal again, he has to find true love to break the hex—a task no easier in 21st century than it was in the 19th.

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14 Responses to 5 Lessons From Self-Publishing

  1. Is that candle burning at both ends? LOL. Happy Birthday and congratulations on your first Indie!

  2. You made me smile and laugh because you are SO right! Love this article. Awesome truth!

  3. Avatar lbgrant0921
    lbgrant0921 says:

    Loved your post and congratulations on your first indie effort.
    ~Livia Grant

  4. This was so helpful and encouraging. You live and learn with a traditional publisher I’m finding out. Good luck to you.

  5. Avatar Brandy Nacole
    Brandy Nacole says:

    Great post! And yes, I HATE being THAT person too but what else can we do. Just step out of the denial box and embrace that sales persons badge.

  6. I’m glad to see you got it finished and published. Another advantage of self-publishing is you can publish works no one thinks there is a market for. It gives you a chance to show the nay-sayers,.

  7. Hi Lisa,

    I love your honesty. I can’t wait to read this book. Congrats on your Indie venture. May it take you far and wide into the land of dreams.

    Lisa W.