my self-publishing journey (so far)
So I did it!
I cast the net out further into the ocean (so to speak).
A few years ago, after finishing my first novel, I considered publishing it traditionally and was quickly disenchanted. As a fledgling author still learning the craft, the odds of getting noticed by an agent or publisher were against me. I’d spend months, if not years trying to get a foot in the door, only to have my toes crushed. After 40 years in the business world, I had become a staunch realist and knew this would be the case.
Not one to stand still when faced with a challenge, I decided to explore self-publishing. I read the debates and reviewed the pros and cons, and for where I was as an author, it made sense. Would I ever consider going the traditional route if the stars aligned? Of course, I would. But this way, I could test the waters and get my stories out there, knowing it would be entirely up to me. I would get what I put into it.
As I got the process going, I could not believe how much the self-publishing ecosystem had grown, especially with the advent of ease-of-use technology. There was a multitude of tools and support mechanisms to get your book in front of potential customers. These readers would be the ones to decide if your book was good enough, and I appreciated that.
After investigating the details of each self-publishing option, I decided on Kindle Direct. And why not? It was the fastest-growing platform out there and part of the Amazon family. How could I go wrong? I signed up with KD and went full speed ahead.
I’ve been nothing but impressed with the ease of their publishing and marketing tools (Kindle Create is fantastic!). And the support from Amazon/Kindle has been phenomenal. I will continue to use Kindle, which I see as a must for any indie author.
I’ve sold my books in 14 countries, which I had not expected as a first-time indie author. (All pretty cool, I must say.) Still, it was a break-even endeavor given the marketing required.
Despite the sales I did get, I had still not created the following that would give me airtime with traditional publishers. The next step would be to expand my reach and to do this, I needed to consider other platforms like Apple Books, Barnes and Noble Press, and Kobo. Would they be as easy as Kindle, and would they be worth it in the end? It was time to find out.
One of the benefits that lured me to Kindle Direct in the first place, was the ability to enroll my novel in KDP Select. This option gives you access to exclusive promotional tools such as Kindle Countdown Deal and Free Book offers. You are also included in the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. With KU, customers don’t purchase your book. Instead, they buy a monthly subscription, which allows them to read any book they want, so long as it was enrolled with KU. Authors get paid on a page-read basis, which can be very lucrative if your book becomes popular.
But here’s the catch – if you decide to go the KDP Select route, your book must be exclusive to Kindle. You have some smart cookies at Amazon, who know this will control the market. But in all fairness, this is business, and you do get something for this exclusivity. In some cases, my royalties from the pages read were higher than those from my book sales.
So, why would I want to consider other platforms if I’m so happy with Kindle, you ask?
On Kindle, there are millions of books – millions. You are a guppy in a vast ocean. Because of this, you need to work hard and have an impressive social media presence (as well as loyal readers) to make it out of oblivion. Search engines, keywords, algorithms, these can all be daunting at times. I wondered if the competition for readers would be as fierce on other platforms. The end game is to build a following, then they talk to two friends and so on and so on.
This was why I decided to test the waters with my fourth book. Although I did publish with Kindle, I didn’t enroll this book in KDP Select. Without exclusivity limitation, I was able to published it on the three other leading platforms (Apple, B & N, and Kobo) in addition to Kindle. The jury is out, but I will keep you posted on my experiences with each.
As a start, I could not believe how easy it was to self-publish a book on those other platforms. I had not expected this. Formating, uploading, account sign-ups were all quite intuitive, and responses from each company when questions arose were excellent. I was pretty impressed with how, like Kindle, they supported the indie author. And this was all done with zero upfront costs on my part.
There’s no doubt publishing on various platforms takes more time. You need to use multiple sites and an array of programs to prep and submit your books. But in the end, the process wasn’t onerous. In fact, I had fun doing it.
I will need to market and promote my book, but that is a must regardless of the platform you use. I’m not as good as others at this, but I plan to focus on this aspect of the business in 2021.
I would enjoy responding to any questions you might have on this topic. I won’t say I’m an expert at it, but given I’m now published on multiple sites, I do have some (moderate) experience.
If you’ve ever thought of writing and publishing, don’t let the fears of jumping in stop you. The water is nice once you get used to it. 😊
Check out my new book – In the Shadow of the Hawthorn. Available where most other indie books are sold.