I had the opportunity to chat with Britt Reints, author of An Amateur’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness, who was kind enough to share her insights on why she chose to self-publish and the interesting things that happen when you are marketing your book.
Why did you decide to self-publish your book?
Honestly, I didn’t even try to publish the traditional route because I was scared someone would tell me I couldn’t do it. I’m an instant gratification person, and I didn’t want to wait for a long time only to be told, “No.”
What aspects did you end up doing yourself and what did you hire out?
I hired a cover designer and a few editors. I also hired a short-term publicist who blasted out my press release to every outlet and got me on a few radio shows. I did my website all by myself and the interior formatting of my book and e-book. I used Scrivener for the writing and organization of my book.
Do you remember how much it cost to produce your book?
I can’t remember exactly, but I’d say somewhere around $1800. The cover designer charged around $500, editors $800, and the publicist was around $500.
You’ve been writing for about 12 years. How helpful was your blog in informing your book?
Well, I traveled for a year, but I didn’t write about that trip. I wrote the book that I didn’t see in the self-help genre (I cringe at the term).
I wanted to write something that discussed the topic of happiness in a way that reached more people. I wanted it to be accessible.
I saw the same themes coming up over and over again on the blog, so I knew they were universal, and I wanted people to know how to do it.
Do you consider yourself a happiness guru of sorts?
After I wrote my book and did a Ted Talk, I haven’t written. It kind of killed my writing because after writing my book, marketing my book, I got annoyed with my topic.
Being associated with my book’s topic ended up being limiting in a way. I was interested in happiness because of a personal experience I had, but I’m kind of over that and want to explore other things.
What was the biggest marketing event that went the furthest?
I definitely sold the most number of books when I was speaking at corporate events and conferences and had my book for sale in the back of the room. I could sell a lot in bulk—20-30 books at one event, so that’s where I saw the most traction.
What advice would you give others?
Hone your craft and be a good writer (and all that jazz) but know that 90% of your work is going to be in marketing your book. If you’re not good at marketing, then invest your money in someone who is.
Do you think it’s worthwhile to self-publish a book?
Writing a book is a stepping stone. When you’re done, you have a huge sense of accomplishment, and it solidifies your platform. Similar to getting your college degree, it shows that you can do a good job and finish something. You can flesh out an idea into a finished book. It’s a major portfolio builder.
What’s next for you?
I would publish again, but now that everyone is writing on the internet, I feel less inclined to put my opinion out there until I know how my opinion is different from everyone else’s. I’m still active on social media, but Twitter is so noisy. I prefer Facebook for tracking conversations.