Today I'm excited to welcome Connie L. Smith, author of Emblazed, onto the blog. Connie is going to share some of her experiences self-publishing. Take it away, Connie:
I used to refer to myself as a walking juxtaposition. The irony is that I can see that description mirrored in my current mode of publishing. You see, I’m self-published, and the accuracy of the phrase fits the mark quite well. I mean, it doesn’t really *walk,* but think in less literal terms for a few minutes :)
I’m nowhere near an expert on marketing and publishing. If I were, most of you wouldn’t be hearing about this trilogy for the first time in your lives through this week of blog posts. But I’m learning, and I’m more than willing to share what I’ve figured out along the way.
Okay. Walking Juxtaposition, remember? I say this because some of the best parts of self-publishing are also the absolute worst parts. For instance, self-publishing is sooo easy. Seriously. I could publish this post if I wanted to and sell it for less than a dollar. Granted, most people probably wouldn’t buy it (totally wouldn’t blame you), but within a day it could be for sale. If you have an account, creating an ebook really is as easy as uploading your document to Amazon, filling out the info, and hitting the button that says ‘publish.’ It’s fantastic that I can share my stories with readers with so little hassle. After writing and editing (I hate editing, don’t you?), it’s good to know that something can be that simple.
Unfortunately to many new authors, self-publishing is sooo easy. Yes. Same wording. When you work your way through your first book, you’re incredibly eager (or at least I was) to make it available for the masses, and it’s – as I’ve said – a simple process to do it. But the ease of the process can often lead to jumping into it too early. I’ll be honest here. I’m as guilty over this as anyone. When I first published Essenced, there were lingering issues that needed to be worked out. But I was a newbie author and got excited. Luckily my fan base at that point was small enough that few even know of the original one – except I’ve told you, so now you know as well – but I definitely learned my lesson. I don’t care how easy it is, or how tempting it is to let your book go. If you haven’t edited, and edited, and edited, and edited, then edit some more before you publish. This is possibly the best advice I can offer. I’ve probably read the final stage of Essenced and been through Emblazed a dozen times or so. Your book might not be perfect, but make sure you’ve invested sufficient time to polish it before you publish.
Another characteristic: Everything is up to you. You get to pick your cover. You get to keep the story just the way you want it without someone shifting your plot in a different direction. You can pick what you want to write, when you want it written, and no one’s in the background giving you a deadline or telling you that your idea won’t work. All of these decisions are on you.
Unfortunately, everything is up to you. Everything you pay for comes out of your own pocket. If you want awesome cover art, you have to pay for awesome cover art. (The Book Cover Machine on Wordpress, btw, is where I bought two of my covers, and the prices were very reasonable. Here ends the advertisement portion of this post.) Need editing? Either you need to have English-loving friends who are willing to help you out of the goodness of their hearts, you need to know your grammar well enough to do a decent job on your own, or you need to be willing to pay even more money to hire a professional. Any giveaway copies are from your own funds. Add that to your typical author swag, and you have a basic outline for prospective start-up costs. And – here’s the kicker – you probably won’t make it back on your first book. A lot of authors don’t have overnight success. It’s a process, and you typically have to build up your audience before you can count on a decent number of people rushing to buy your next publication. This is probably the second best piece of advice I can give. Don’t be disappointed if you end up losing money on your first book, and plan your spending accordingly. I’m told things can get better as the years go by :)
This also falls into marketing. You don’t have a publishing company or an agent backing you. Not only can that make people a little more iffy to give your work a try, but it also means every bit of promotion is in your hands. So… Get ready to work! Book blogs are officially some of your best allies, so look for them! There are all kinds of websites that have lists of potential blogs to submit your book to. Some of my best reviews came from book bloggers that I hadn’t heard of before finding their sites. Even if it’s not a review – interviews, book promos, spotlights, guest posts – the space can still be helpful.
Also, if you’re involved in KDP and are planning to use your free promotion days (third best piece of advice), learn to use them wisely. I had little to no plan when I set out with Essenced, and it took me a while to sort of get the hang of the entire process. There are sites that will list your freebie days for you, and promoting it on your own through a blog tour (*cough* Essenced is free this week *cough*) can be a good strategy. Learn to use your social media to the best of your ability. Learn from other authors, and try to think outside the box with your methods of promotion. (Also, speaking of social media – I’m planning a giveaway every day during this blog tour via Twitter. Just so you know.)
I could give a lot of other advice, but I’ll leave you with one final portion: Appreciate your readers. Especially in the early days, every sale and every positive review is like a tiny victory. Sometimes it feels like you have to fight for each one, and having a person you’ve never even met say they loved the story you created… That’s an awesome feeling. Think about how long your TBR pile is. These people potentially have ones just as long, but they let your book be the one they read. They’ve earned that appreciation. They’re some of your biggest supporters, and the people who make your job possible in the first place. Let them know you appreciate that support.
Thanks for reading! Check out my Twitter page February 24th-28th for giveaways to celebrate the release of Emblazed :)
Here’s the blurb and link for Emblazed:
After all the preparations, Nicholai’s warriors stand on the threshold of warfare, the demons entering the realm in battalions and the world unknowingly depending on the army’s success to continue intact. But the battle is only the beginning of deadly struggles, and the soldiers will soon realize how little they know, how many things are at stake, and how much they have to lose.
Love, hate, hope, despair, anguish, joy… The journey is a gauntlet of emotion and combat, threatening their resolve as much as their lives.
Will their training and ties be enough, or will the complications and the forthcoming evil forever cripple the world’s last hope of survival?
Here is the link for Essenced (free):
Connie's Social Media Links:
Blog/Main Site: http://clsmithbooks.blogspot.com/