My Self Publishing Tips

A little over a year ago, I began my first (published) novel, Tripped Up Love.  I published it in May and published the sequel, The New Ever After, in August. To say it has been a wild ride would be the understatement of the century. In this season of gratitude, I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am to all the readers I’ve met in person and virtually and all the people that have made this journey a success in my eyes.

The first thing I did after writing my book was start a small press with my friend and fellow writer, JD Combs. We created the company Perfect Mamas Press and became our own little publishing house.  I purchased 10 ISBNs from Bowker. If you intend to publish more books it is cheaper to buy 10 in the long run. It’s $125 for one and $250 for 10. I hired an editor and a cover artist to help me as well. For the first book, my editor did two edits – one initial edit and a final edit before it was published. I also had beta readers read for content and errors. I am really lucky to have some very honest people in my circle. They didn’t hesitate to tell me when something didn’t ring true. For my second book, my editor read my book three times. The first time for content and the other two for errors. I believe we both learned a lot in the process and the second book is a much “tighter” book because of it. I have to be honest and tell you that I have changed two errors that were found in the first book – an inverted quotation mark and changed ball to bawl. Both things were pointed out in Amazon comments. I did have a reader say the main character was whiny and I’m not going to change anything in my book to make her less whiny. She’s a mom living in suburbia with three kids and a dead husband. Moms whine. I spent a fair amount of time whining to my confidante this morning. Whining is part of her character and as far as I’m concerned if a reader feels something good or bad, I’ve met my objective.

Back to the basics, I used Createspace for my paperback and it was super easy.  They walk you through each step and the customer service is very responsive if you have any questions.  Createspace will format your paperback into a kindle version but I decided to do it myself as it would have taken quite a few weeks to do what I did in a few days.  After doing some research, I decided to do KDP Select for my ebook. Between the opportunity to have free days and 70% of my profits (if I priced my book over $2.99), working with Amazon exclusively seemed like a smart decision. And six months and two books later, I am not contemplating anything different for my future books. Formatting the books for KDP was the hardest part of the whole process but there are lots of forums online – especially on the KDP site – that help you out as you go. I even watched a video on YouTube about making an interactive table of contents. The hardest part was figuring out how the book would look on each device – Kindle, Kindle Fire, iPad etc. To be honest, I do have an advantage of having a computer background so navigating Word was not that hard for me to begin with. If you have more specific questions about any of this, please feel free to email me.

After my first book was up and running, I had no idea what to do. JD Combs and I had a book launch at a wine bar and that was a great success. I ordered 100 paper copies of my book from Createspace and sold them all immediately. But the internet was filled with all kinds of resources that completely overwhelmed me. I had no idea what blog tours were or book review bloggers or all these groups on Facebook that promoted authors and books. Before I published I was just concerned with writing my book.  Fortunately, I had built up a following with my blog and on Facebook and Twitter so I relied heavily on those tools to get the word out in the beginning. My go to resource for all my info has been BadRedHead Media. Rachel Thompson is the best of the best and full of helpful info.  After a lot of trial and error and tips from Rachel’s websites, I found quite a few places and people to help me promote my book.

  • BookBub – The most successful ad I’ve run thus far was with BookBub. I ran an ad at the end of June for Tripped Up Love. I spent $120 advertising my free day and had 31,000 downloads in the U.S. My book was only free for one day and by 10 a.m. the next morning I had made my $120 back and my book continued to sell like crazy all weekend. I had an opportunity to run an ad for my second book, The New Ever After, on a day it was free in September. I had 25,000 downloads in the U.S. from that ad. During the day my second book was free I made up for the cost of the ad on sales of the first book. Sales were strong after the second ad on BookBub but not as strong as the first time. The first time my book stayed on the Amazon Top 10 free chart for several days and the second time it fell off immediately. I realize I am very fortunate to have had two ads on BookBub. I need to wait six months before I do it again, but I will do it without any hesitation….assuming I am accepted again!
  • ChickLitPlus - I did a blog tour with ChickLitPlus this fall and it was a great success. Samantha March was easy to work with and found some great high profile bloggers to read and review my book. I highly recommend the tour! I think the key with blog tours is finding a group that represents your genre. This may seem obvious but I have had more success with companies featuring a specific genre than ones that focus on all types of books. I also had a two great tours with Irresistible Reads. They were great to work with and really responsive and found great blogs like, My Daily Romance, to review my books. In both cases, I have met reviewers and people who have been so supportive of my work even beyond the tour. I won’t hesitate to work with either group with all of my future books.
  • Other book bloggers and Facebook sites – Three Chicks and Their Books is a Facebook group and website with over 16,000 followers. They have been a fabulous support for me reviewing my book and featuring it several times.  Nerd Girl is also great resource on Facebook and the web. At last glance they had about 6500 followers. Any time I run a promotion they will feature my book for no cost on their page. Shhh….Mommy’s in the Bathroom Reading is another fabulous similar site that will feature your books as well.  I know there are probably quite a few other sites like this but I have struck up relationships with these three and have had success with each one.
  • I also love Indie Book Promos. Barb is easy to work with and keeps your book out in the spotlight.
  • Goodreads – I have done three Giveaways on Goodreads and have found it to be a great way to get new readers and reviews of your book. When someone enters the Giveaway, your book is entered onto their TBR list and becomes a constant reminder to them.
  • I ran an ad with Kindle Fire Department on a free day and had 4000 downloads. It did take a bit longer to make up the cost of the ad for some reason. I think the day of the week and all kinds of other factors that I can’t even imagine determine the success of each ad but the have almost 55,000 followers on Facebook so the exposure is worthwhile.
  • Pricing…I play with it. Both books are currently .99 for Thanksgiving. I just put book two down to 99 cents because it was having a slow week. So, we’ll see what happens but I like having the ability to change it whenever I’d like.
  • An odd thing I’ve noticed…marketing book two is completely different as you want people to read book one first. Just because book two is out does not mean you can stop marketing book one.

My blog has been my biggest marketing tool. This article is outside of my box as I usually focus on writing about being a mom but I was inspired to write about my experience by a Facebook friend.  I try update my Facebook status on my Author page and Twitter each morning by 7. I use a quote or write an inspirational or silly message of my own.  The response has been great and I’m afraid to stop doing it!! During the day I add little tidbits about my life, my obsession with Adam Levine or what type of mayo I prefer. I ALWAYS respond to messages I get on Facebook. I enjoy interacting with all of my readers and wish I could respond to reviews too! Currently, I have 116 reviews (74 5 STAR reviews) for my first book and 32 for my second. I read all of my reviews and even made myself a little sick to my stomach in the beginning when a less than stellar review would roll in. Now my skin is tougher and I learn from them instead of take offense….in most cases! I love hearing from readers who take their time to review my books. I have heard from widows, older women, younger women and even some Dads and it is an amazing feeling to have people fall in love with or simply enjoy your book.  I have even been lucky enough to get a 5 STAR review from a popular self-publishing resource.

What does my future hold? I was contacted by a publisher interested in acquiring my digital rights to both books but I turned them down. They were offering quite a bit less than I am making on Amazon. I have no idea if that will happen again.  I would love to have an agent out there helping me navigate this big wide world of self publishing but I’m not sure how to go about finding one.  So for right now, I’m working on book three in The New Ever After Series and I’m about to hand a stand-alone book to my editor in the next few days. Most importantly, I’m doing what I love and really nothing else matters.

5 comments on “My Self Publishing Tips

  1. Tima Maria Lacoba on said:

    I’m glad I stumbled onto your blog! This post has been so helpful to me as a newly published indie author. Going from writer, to author, to your own marketing manager, is a steep learning curve. Thanks for making it a little bit easier :-)

  2. Rachel Thompson (@RachelintheOC) on said:

    thank you for the mention, sweet Julie!

    Hey, I’ve done this 3 times (so far) and can relate to your journey so much! I’m thrilled that my tips and advice has been helpful to you.

    Plus, your books are great. For anyone reading this, writing a great book (and hiring professionals to help) makes SUCH a difference. It’s still hard work, but it’s easier to sell a positively reviewed, great book than something that’s not ready for primetime.

    you are ready for primetime!


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