Learn from other authors and figure out what works in this series where I interview those who have been there and done that.
What was your biggest mistake in self-publishing your book?
My biggest mistake was writing my book before I started my blog.
Especially since my book was more of a self-help guide for a specific community, it would’ve helped me had I been able to connect with my readers beforehand. Also, a blog is a great way to explore what it is you want to write about in your book.
That said, I’m not sure I would’ve had the time to maintain a blog and write the book, so there is always a balance to find.
Did you take any courses or study how to self-publish before you started?
I took a self-publishing marketing course and read Self-Printed, which I used like a guidebook to help me through each step of the way. I also went on a writer’s retreat and spent a few days brainstorming, writing a pitch for publishers, and started my first chapter.
Really, I jumped right into it and made it up as I went along until I started to get the hang of it.
Did you hire any experts to help you?
I hired people to help me with the editing, proofreading, cover design, interior layout, and e-book design. I uploaded all of the finished materials to Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace myself and it was quite easy to follow the on-screen instructions.
One of the hardest parts was knowing how much I should pay for each service. Pay too little and you’re sure to have low-quality work. Pay too much and you’re getting ripped off.
It’s really important to know what you shouldn’t be paying someone.
What other challenges did you experience?
It was really hard for me to know if my idea was worth anything or not. I received great feedback from my editor but only I really cared if my book sold or not.
My editor made some great suggestions about leading between chapters—recapping what had been said at the beginning of my chapters and letting the reader know what was coming next at the end of each chapter. That really improved the book for the reader and made it easier for them to keep reading.
How much did you spend self-publishing your book?
I didn’t want to spend more than $1,500 on the editing, cover design, and e-book formatting but I can’t remember exactly how much everything cost in the end.
I was very cautious with my budget but I recommend investing in services that would take you days to figure out but someone else only a few hours to do. Your time is valuable.
What is the most exciting thing about self-publishing?
That excitement you feel before you press “Publish.” It is so rewarding to get feedback from readers who let you know that your words have touched them in some way.
There’s also no better feeling than holding your book in your hands and thinking, “Wow. I did this.”
What advice would you give to someone thinking about self-publishing?
Don’t put out anything you aren’t proud of. Remember that the book is only part of your brand.
After publishing my book, I’ve launched a freelance writing career and people take me seriously.
Think about the branding of your book and create something that can follow you wherever you go (e.g., speaking engagements, webinars, courses, etc.,) and is easily recognizable.
Do you have any future plans for more self-publishing?
No plans at the moment to revise or update the current book. I am thinking of creating a short companion e-book, The Repat Survival Guide, but nothing is set in stone.