MY FIRST MONTH. I independently published for the first time about a month ago. How did it go? What is my most important piece of advice to someone who is launching their book?
Highlights of my first month: *A small audio publisher offered me a contract (with advance) to record and sell my novel. So, my audio will be published by them. I didn’t think I would have an audio so that’s pretty cool. *I decided (so much fun to say that because in traditional publishing you don’t get to decide much about publishing decisions) to have three free days during my launch when I gave away my novel and these got my novel on the Amazon bestseller free list--#40 overall & #1 on several special lists like Humorous Fantasy. *I gave away over 4500 copies in three days—which gave me a lot of exposure* I already have ten reviews on amazon—good reviews mostly, 4.4/5 avg. The bump of free giveaways seems to have helped me keep weeks of steady sales. Nothing spectacular but I went from no sales for the first few days before launch (no one knew the novel was there) to big launch numbers and steady sales since . Kindle reads have also been good, which helps because the subscription service pays by page reads. So overall it was a successful month. I was happy with my start.
There is a ton of things to learn about self-publishing and I’ve only been at it for a few months. I’ve used a lot of online free sources and several free short courses (meant to lure you in to pay for the longer and expensive—to me—courses). So far I haven’t paid for any courses but the five sources I’ve used most all offer courses and I imagine I will take one when I feel grounded in the basics of publishing. And if pushed, I might advise the new independent writer to wait, learn from the wealth of free materials online and get the publishing vocabulary down before you decide which course or courses to invest in. I say this, in part, because none of them are particularly cheap. The following are the sources I’ve used the most: Mark Dawson, Joanna Penn, David Gaughran, Nick Stephenson, and Dave Chesson. I’m sure there are many more but these have educated me a lot on the business and art of independent publication. These all have many podcasts, youtubes, and books as well as courses.
One of the big problems every new author faces is how to get readers to know your book even exists. If you just publish it without any strategy you may end up with a launch no one attends—even if you do offer your book for free. We’re talking launch ghost town here. So my advice is that you get eyes on your book so it has a chance to be read. How do you do that?
There are various possibilities. But if, like me, you don’t have an email list or much of a platform and if you are new to all this, my advice is you try email subscribers. Putting your book up for free helps get you traffic. However you won’t have downloads if people can’t see your book. Email subscribers are most helpful when you offer your book for free or a deep discount—0.99 cents. These lists send out emails to their subscribers—tens of thousands or in the case of the best one, Bookbub, millions. They send them to specific readers that have filled out forms saying which genres of books they like to read, so in most cases you can hit your target audience. You pay to be on their lists, though I believe there are a few free ones. Some are more expensive than others. Bookbub—the largest charges the most and has the most subscribers and is difficult to get a place on but also can have great benefits.
Here are some others. The first three on this list below are larger. They range from about $30-$80, depending on your genre, to get on their lists. The five after are cheaper-- $10-25 to get on their lists. These are only a few of the lists. There are many more. Look around online.
I used the lists below in my launch and was able to get a lot downloads. One thing to remember—your cover has to be good, your blurb interesting and enticing, and the book itself well-written or exposure won’t help. But assuming these are all good, then these sites can be a good way to get some eyes on your book and get some readers who, in turn, will leave reviews and help you get more readers.
- has more than 368,000 registered readers across categories.
- is another really good site.
- Another one of my favorite sites is the .
I know—believe me---it’s hard to give your book away after you’ve slaved over writing it for many months or years. But if no one can find your book then no one will see it. I wanted readers. Your goals may be different and you might use a different strategy, but if you want to find readers the combination of offering a free book and email subscriptions can be a good way to go.
Hope this helps you get started!
Good writing…and publishing