In 2014 I self-published my first book “An Expat’s Guide to Ireland“, using Amazon’s CreateSpace. This year, in 2018, I updated that book and published a new book “How to Manage Your Manager.” For the update to “An Expat’s Guide to Ireland” I expanded beyond Amazon, publishing to Smashwords as well.

In the process of publishing both books, I learned a few things. So, here are a few of the lessons I learned when self-publishing my books.

Find a Good Editor

I am notorious for having bad grammar and spelling, to the point that a few people have accused me of being dyslexic. I’m not, I’m just the result of a standard public education. After writing “An Expat’s Guide to Ireland” I let a friend read it for feedback and after rewriting based on that feedback I sent it to an editor.

I have found it is difficult to find a decent editor. A few I contacted were really expensive, and others would only edit specific types of content or genres. Eventually, I found one that seemed like she knew what she was doing, so I sent my book to her for editing. She sent it back with the edits which to my ignorance looked good. After publishing the book, however, people left a few comments on the errors included in the book missed by both of us. The cost of this bad editor was $150 dollars. For my second book, I spent $460 dollars on the editor. He did a much better job for the price. However, something to think about when self-publishing is that this money will need to be made back in sales. And most people don’t make a decent income from self-publishing a novel.

YOU Need to Promote the Book

There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of self-published books. Simply putting the book online will not create sales. The way to create sales is for you to promote it. The best place to start this is before the book is published, by creating an audience. Set up social media accounts and pages such as Facebook and Twitter. Post things on those platforms to get followers and to create an audience. That way when you do publish the book you have someone who will be looking forward to reading it.

Reviews are like Gold

What helps sales is getting those reviews, especially when it is labeled as a verified sale on Amazon. A great place to start with this is friends and family. When posting links and stuff on social media be sure to ask for reviews (or in email lists if you use those). This is also where that audience you have already built up comes in handy.

With my second book, I tried giving it to people on Kindle for the first 3 days of release for free. I posted the news on my Facebook page and hoped that a few people would read it and take the time to write a review. They didn’t. I ended up giving away digital copies of my book for nothing in return. A lesson learned for next time. If someone gets something for free, they don’t value it.

Develop a Thick Skin

If you put yourself out there, especially on the internet, you will get trolls and rude comments no matter how good your book is. I have one guy who left negative reviews on both my books and based on the reviews he (I’m assuming he) has never read either book. He decided he didn’t like the title of the first one and has trolled me since for some bizarre reason.

Also, be open to criticism. I’m sure you think you are brilliant and so is your writing, but some reviews from people you don’t know are worth paying attention to.

Bloggers and Book Reviewers

This is an area that I need to put more effort into. There are plenty of people out there who will review your book for you. Usually, all you need to do is provide a free copy of the book to them. Easy to do if you have it in digital form. Also, Facebook has groups were people will post and give each other reviews. This is a great way to get more reviews as well as get the word of your book out there. Just be aware that they might not like the book and might say so in their review.

In Summary

Most people who self-publish books don’t make money from it, or if they do make money, it might only be a few dollars a month, not enough to live on. For example, as of this writing, having calculated my income from sales so far and deducting expenses with editing, ISBN registration, etc., I am negative $450 dollars. I still have a long way to go before I start making a profit.