Lessons from Self-Publishing

Whenever you embark on a new adventure, there is usually a steep learning curve. Often those who have already completed the adventure forget that steep learning curve and can make the process seem easy.

I have often run into this with self-publishing books. Self-publishing a book is not easy. There is a lot to learn and understand not just about book design and the publishing process, but also on marketing a book.

Lessons from Self-Publishing

Sandra Beckwith on her blog, Build Book Buzz, recently shared statements from 25 self-published authors on “I wish I’d known before I self-published.” These statements not only show how much there is to learn, but also how important it is to get support in the publishing and marketing process.

A couple of the 25 statements made by these self-published authors caught my eye. I believe they illustrate why belonging to a professional association is important in navigating the publishing and marketing maze.

1.  Get Your Information from Experts.

One “I wish I’d known before I self-published…” author said:

“Use IngramSpark for your print books! I just learned this valuable lesson. Bookstores and libraries don’t buy from Amazon – they use IngramSpark to purchase books, and if you don’t publish there, you are missing out on many sales.”

Sadly, this author has it mostly correct, but not completely correct. IngramSpark is a print-on-demand platform. They are not a distributor. However, IngramSpark will place your books into distribution through their parent company Ingram (and Spring Arbor for Christian books). Retailers and librarians order books through Ingram (the distribution arm) not IngramSpark.

This is important information to know. When you are promoting your book to retailers and librarians, you want to let them know that your book is available for order through Ingram, not IngramSpark.

In addition to getting your information from experts, membership in a professional organization like Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) can save you money. Members of CIPA receive free title uploads to IngramSpark a savings of $49 per book.

2.  Don’t Reinvent the Wheel.

Another “I wish I’d known before I self-published…” author said:

“Writing the book was the easy part. When you decide to embark on the self-publishing journey, you need to have a marketing plan zipped up and ready to launch.”

In addition to having a solid marketing plan, your marketing needs to start long before the launch of your book. The good news is that you don’t need to come up with a marketing plan from scratch. There are numerous book marketing and book launch plan templates that provide you a guide to help steer your personalized strategic book marketing plan.

Here is where a professional association can, again, provide you the information you need. Members of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA), have access to numerous reference guides and checklists including:

  • Checklist for Creating a Professional-Looking Book
  • Book Launch Marketing Checklist
  • Metadata Checklist

Both are great templates to make sure you have the basics covered when publishing and marketing a book.

If you are not a Member of a professional publishing association and are independently publishing books or thinking about publishing a book, I encourage you to join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA).

Christian Indie Publishing Association

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA)’s goal is to provide authors and publishers with the tools you need for success in publishing and marketing Christian books. The organization provides numerous resources to help those who are embarking on the publishing journey find success.

Right now, CIPA is offering a Fall Membership Special. For just $110 you can gain Membership in the organization through December 2021. Join today and get the tools and resources you need to be more successful in publishing and marketing your books.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska.

Is Self-Publishing a Gamble?

I recently came across an article in the New York Times titled:

“Self-Publishing Is a Gamble. Why Is Donald Trump Jr. Doing It?”

It appears that Donald Trump, Jr., has written a book titled Liberal Privilege: Joe Biden and the Democrats’ Defense of the Indefensible. He plans to release the book in early September.

Is Self-Publishing a Gamble?

Interestingly, even though Center House, an imprint of Hachette—the publishing house that published Trump Jr.’s first book, Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us—made an offer to publish Liberal Privilege, Trump Jr. turned them down.

Why?

Because self-publishing is not the gamble that the authors of the article believe.

Trump Jr.’s book Triggered has sold 286,000 copies since last November when it released, according to NPD BookScan. It is still selling steadily.

By self-publishing, Donald Trump, Jr., a public figure, can easily sell thousands of copies and make a much larger profit then he can with a traditional publishing contract.

The New York Times article states:

Authors who sign with a publisher typically receive an advance payment before the book goes on sale, then about 10 to 15 percent of hardcover sales after they earn back their advance. If the book is self-published, there is no advance but an author can generally walk away with anywhere from 35 percent to as much as 70 percent of the sales.

Trump Jr. is a savvy business man. He already has his own platform, so, he does not need the publicity that a major publisher can create. He is a New York Times best-selling author as his book Triggered was a No. 1 best seller last year. In addition, the Republican National Committee will use this new book for fund-raising—ensuring Trump Jr. large quantity orders of his book.

Of course, self-publishing comes with its own challenges, including editing and proofing. This summer, Trump Jr. posted a photo on Twitter of his new book. The cover image contained a typo. The apostrophe was in the wrong place. The cover has since been corrected.

Book Cover Error

What this story demonstrates is that self-publishing, rather than being a gamble, has become mainstream. As with starting any business, self-publishing a book comes with risks. You have no guarantee your venture will succeed. But, neither does any other startup.

The good news is that indie authors are no longer on the fringe. After all, even public figures are ditching traditional book contracts to self-publish.

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Photo by fotografierende.

Have You Asked?

A couple weeks ago, a friend invited me to spend some time at the beach with her. I live in North Carolina, so we went to a beach in this state.

The day before we were scheduled to leave for our beach trip, a hurricane blew through the coast of North Carolina. Fortunately, the place we were staying at was left intact and accessible—the downed trees had missed the dwelling but lay nearby.

Have You Asked?

While at the beach, my friend and I took a boat tour to a deserted barrier reef island. We planned to look for seashells while there since seashells are plentiful right after a hurricane.

I was especially looking for conch shells and delighted to find some. While most of the shells I found were in good condition, none were as perfect as I would have liked.

Right before we left the beach, I went to the water to wash the sand off my hands. As I made my way back up the shore, two conch shells appeared on the sand in front of me. They were identical and perfect.

I picked them up and showed them to my friend. As I gave her one, she told me that she had prayed as we combed the beach that I would find a perfect conch shell.

I was touched. I had not thought to pray about this. Yet my friend prayed on my behalf, and our good God answered her prayer to show both her and me that he listens and cares for us.

James tell us “You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2)

Jesus says “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

That day on the beach was a gentle reminder to me that I do not ask enough. What about you? Are you asking for God to use the words you have written and published to touch people’s lives?

Are you asking God…

  • For your book to find its way into the hands of those who need the message?
  • For divine appointments for networking opportunities?
  • That the message he has given you to share will not return void?
  • For doors to open for publicity opportunities?
  • For guidance on where to spend your meager marketing dollars?
  • For wisdom on where to spend your marketing time?
  • That the people who need your words of encouragement will find them?
  • For God to bless the work of your hands (your writing and books)?

If you are struggling with marketing and selling your books, pray. Ask God for guidance and blessings for your efforts. After all, God is still in the business of answering prayer.

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You Have No Excuse!

I frequently receive random questions from authors. These come to me through email, voicemail, and social media.

You Have No Excuse

I get questions like:

  • I’ve written a book. Do you have any advice for me?
  • Do I need to register my book with Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data?
  • Can we talk so I can find ways to increase my book sales?
  • I am writing a book. Can I have it listed under both Christian fiction and regular fiction?

I am somewhat dismayed at how broad these questions are. Often, these are questions that whole books and seminars are devoted to answering.  It is clear to me that most of these authors have not taken the time to:

  1. Educate themselves about publishing and marketing.
  2. Connected with a writing or publishing group, since they are sending their question to a random organization or person with whom they have no connection.

There are plenty of books and seminars available to independent authors today. These books and seminars teach new authors everything you need to know about publishing and marketing so that you can be successful.

In addition, there are numerous groups and organizations dedicated to serving independent authors. These organizations also provide the information and resources that authors need to be successful.

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) not only provides our Members with free webinars, we also inform them of other organizations providing training that are relevant to publishing and marketing Christian books.

For example, CIPA Members have free access to a two-day virtual book selling conference in September put on by another publishing association. Often, the educational opportunities provided by CIPA and other organizations are worth more than the Membership dues.

If you are an independent author, I encourage you to take advantage of as many webinars as you have time for. After all, success follows learning.

In fact, here are two FREE webinars that you can take next week.

How to Effectively Promote Your Self-Published BookWebinars
Sponsored by MAI
Wednesday, August 26 at 8:00 AM CDT
Register by clicking HERE

Marketing & Publicity
Sponsored by Ingram
Wednesday, August 26 at 10 AM CDT
Register by clicking HERE

I encourage you to sign up for these webinars. You really have no excuse not to have the knowledge you need to successfully publish and market your book—all it takes is a little investment of time and money.

By the way, Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) is still running our Summer Membership Special. You can join CIPA now for just $120 and receive Membership through December 2021!

Join today and receive the information and resources you need to better publish, market, and sell your books.

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Photo courtesy of Tumisu.

Life is Easier When Our Goals are Completed

Constantly moving forward takes work. Whether you are engaging in writing a book, publishing the book, marketing the book, or in any other area of self-improvement, gaining and maintaining momentum is hard.

Nearly all of us procrastinate. We put off that which we deem difficult or unpleasant. The infographic below provides some great information on how you can confront obstacles and practical tips to overcome them to work toward your goals.

I like the advice about moving forward in this infographic. It says:

Pick one thing you want to get better at and do it every day.”

It’s good advice, but hard to follow. Yet the rewards are worth it. According to the One Percent Solution:

Improve your business (or yourself) by 1% each day. In 70 days, you will be 2x as good as you are now”.

Now that is some incentive!

Managing Momentum

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