Self-Publishing is Hard, but Worth It

Self-Publishing is Hard, but Worth It

If you're reading this, you're likely already self-publishing or you're considering it. (Or you're just hunting for things to dig up drama... who knows... people do weird things these days.)

I am starting this blog in hopes of sharing what I've learned over the years and helping you find the confidence to tackle your goals. I'll be writing everything from resources I've used and recommend to my process from concept to launch (and beyond). I'm super excited about being able to share these things in a way that doesn't cost you any money and allows me to share per my schedule and time-commitments.

Before we dive into the weeds of publishing, though, we need to talk.

Because we need to make something very clear. (Don't worry, this isn't just a lecture of a post. I have resources and help for you at the end!)

Be willing to do the work

Self-published authors do NOT do any of this alone. We rely on the generosity, knowledge, experience, and advice of others who have gone before us. I don't know any author who will claim to have done it all on their own.

But how we seek the help of others matters. Big time.

Not every author is a coach.
Not every author wants to teach.
Not every author has time to write a blog.

Every author is busy AF.
Every author has deadlines.
Every author has responsibilities.

There has been a growing trend of newer authors contacting authors (in DMs or email)--often authors they don't even follow and have never engaged with--demanding help.

Sometimes we can help. Sometimes we can't.
Not being able to help does NOT mean they are wanting to keep you from succeeding. It does NOT mean they see you as competition they need to hold back. It does NOT mean they are gatekeeping the information you are asking for.

It simply means their schedule, their energy, their situation does not allow them the ability to help every single person who asks for it. They are not trying to be mean, but we all need to understand we are more than likely not the only person DMing or emailing that author asking a question. They get tons of questions, and they cannot field them all. To take the time to even say "no" to all of them would take valuable time away from writing, marketing, and all the administrative tasks that come with authoring.

This is why my number one advice to authors is to be prepared and be willing to do the work. 99% of the information you need or want is out there. You can find it, if you look.

Some of you might be mad right now. I have four kids. I'm used to making people mad.

Please remember I'm not writing this to tell you to take a hike and leave me alone. I'm trying to help you. I'm wanting to set you up for success. Sometimes that means hearing something you don't want to hear. Tough love. It's called tough for a reason, but it's still love.

Because here's the deal, friends. Someone who insists on having the answers handed to them, who demands to be coached for free, who wants to be taught how to do it by any and every author they contact... will struggle in this industry.

Self-publishing isn't just uploading files to Amazon (though you can).

Self-publishing is being an entrepreneur. It is starting and running a business.

And doing this--starting your own company--requires drive and tenacity (among other things like humility and the ability to laugh at yourself).

How to do the work

We are blessed to live in an age where we have information readily available. Of course, this comes with a major downside: we have access to a TON of information.

Doing a quick search with your self-publishing questions will bring up so many resources (some of which may be outdated and irrelevant). It can be overwhelming to wade through it all. Why? Because there are a MILLION ways to self-publish, and to self-publish well. Part of the biggest challenge is figuring out which way will work for us.

And that is actually a good thing, because we don't have to take our strengths and our life circumstances and make them fit into a specific publishing model! We get to design our own plan, adjust the process to fit us, etc. And we can change things and pivot when needed.

It's a beautiful thing.

"Okay, Vanessa. So I'm not supposed to DM an author for help, and you acknowledge that googling is less than helpful--"

Wait wait wait. Googling can be frustrating, but it's still extremely useful. It is something I still do as I start to attend my first book convention and publish my 4th book. So yes, I still do internet searches with my questions and have to wade through blogs and websites and what-not to see if I find what might help.

But Google is just the start... here are more ways you can learn (and how I learned... and keep learning).

  1. Google
    This is helpful for finding new resources (i.e. blogs, websites, etc)
  2. Author groups (i.e. 20booksto50k, etc)
    There are big ones on FB that are a wealth of information, though they can also be a headache. Still worth at least trying. 
  3. Books
    No, these are not obsolete. These can be extremely helpful. I read a great one on how to successfully do newsletter marketing, and another for fixing my publishing mindset overall. (I share some of these at the end)
  4. Courses
    Yes, these can get expensive. Many have money back guarantees if you buy it, try it, and realize it's not for you. Others offer free trials. I have paid for many and learned a lot.
  5. Coaches
    Sometimes it's a quick call (Elise Kova offers these for authors who have questions) and other times it's an extensive one-on-one mentoring opportunity. Insanely helpful but an investment. I have utilized coaches myself.
  6. Websites and Email lists
    I have a handful I check regularly and subscribe to.
  7. Networking
    This is not DMing an author out of the blue. This is connecting with your colleagues, forming connections, building relationships. AND IT IS KEY! I have learned a ton--A TON--from my fellow authors, AFTER I've gotten to know them. We help each other, because we all have different strengths and experiences. And it makes the self-published life less lonely. (And yes, I realize this may be harder for introverts, but it is a necessity for business and a skill you must hone.)

Okay, this post is getting insanely long, so I'll try to wrap this up.

I want to see your books out there next to mine. I want to see you reach your goals and achieve whatever you set out to do. I want to see you persist and not give up when it gets hard.

Like marriage, this is hard, but worth it. If you're willing to work at it.

Cheers, friends!

P.S. Here are several resources I use and recommend:

  • Kindlepreneur - wealth of knowledge here as well as apps, tools, and calculators. Their publisher rocket is one of my favorites (that's an affiliate link for that software, so I do earn a small royalty for sharing it with you)
  • Author Ad Profit Challenge by Bryan Cohen - run on facebook every quarter (Jan, April, July, Oct) provides an amazing, FREE, introduction to running amazon ads to be profitable
  • The Writer's Sanctuary - owned by two bestselling authors, Mary Weber and CJ Redwine, they host webinars, retreats, and offer many services and tips to authors. Love them.
  • Cherry Pie Author Services - also owned by Mary Weber, she and her staff offer a slew of services here from editing to querying help and more. Highly recommend.

Oh... and some of my favorite books (not affiliate links... I get jack squat for sharing these):

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