Becoming a successful self published author is all about making the right choices…
I started with self-publishing around four years ago.
Instead of starting with a clear plan and an idea of exactly what I wanted to do, I just took one step at a time and eventually wound up becoming a best selling author.
I learned a lot along the way and I’d like to share some of the key lessons I learned that will help you avoid many of the common mistakes self published authors make.
At one point, I had decided to write a poker strategy guide, but when the booklet was finished, I didn’t have any idea what I would do with it or how I would make money from it. I thought about maybe selling it as a PDF guide to people on poker forums, using it as a reference guide for myself, or as an instruction manual in case I decided to pursue coaching one day.
I had never thought of actually publishing it as a book until someone on Facebook pointed me toward the possibility of self-publishing on Amazon. I didn’t even known it was possible to self publish my book on Amazon before then!
Back then, I knew very little about self-publishing. I was a complete noobie to publishing. I had no experience, no mentors, and no idea what I was getting myself into.
But I started reading everything I could find about self publishing and I re-worked my guide into a book, and learned how to format my Word document as a Kindle book.
Then I uploaded my book to Amazon, and things went from there.
To my surprise, the book turned into a big success. It became a bestseller in its category on Amazon and stayed on top of the bestseller lists for poker books for around two years or so.
I had never imagined this could happen. Especially since I didn’t know much about self-publishing and went into it with no real plan.
Did I just get lucky?
Did I achieve that level of success because I just so happened to have written a very good book?
I didn’t know!
I learned more about self-publishing along the way, but at the start of my journey, I had never imagined I would achieve any success at all. I just hoped I would be able to sell a few copies.
That my book would reach thousands of people around the world was definitely not something I considered possible at the time.
Looking back on that experience now, I think the road to success is much easier when you have a clear plan. When you know exactly where you’re going and what you want to achieve, you’ll know what actions to take along your journey to achieve your goals as an author. When you make the right choices for yourself, things will be a lot easier.
I was lucky enough (or just naive) to jump into it and publish my first book on Amazon with a bit of hard work and not much of a plan.
That’s why I wanted to write this post so you can learn from my mistakes and successes. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to publishing your first book!
Making the right choices and learning from the experiences of other self published authors to give your self-publishing career the highest chance of success just makes sense.
I can’t cover everything about self publishing here, but I’ll highlight the most important choices you have along the way so you can make the best decisions for your situation.
Creating a Self Publishing Plan for Success
What Do You Want to Accomplish With Your Book?
The first thing you need to do is determine what you want to accomplish with your book.
What are your self publishing goals?
What’s driving you?
Looking ahead one year, five years, ten years in the future, where do you want to end up?
What would you like to have happen with your book?
Some of the most common reasons authors want to self-publish a book are to:
- Make money with your writing
- Spread your message or story to other people
- Educate others and teach them something
- Show your expertise to your ideal clients and customers
- Get more publicity for your message, cause, story or business
- Get more brand recognition in your market
Most people primarily consider self-publishing as a way to make money with their writing, but there are more reasons to start self-publishing.
Making clear at the outset what you want to accomplish with your book will help you in making better choices regarding different aspects of your self-publishing business.
For example, if your primary objective is to spread your message and showcase your expertise, you may want to think about offering your book for free. Or offer it on your website to show potential customers you know what you’re talking about.
A book can be a great way to get more invitations to speak at seminars, attract coaching clients, sign up more clients and customers, and more. These other goals may be much more valuable to you and your business than royalty checks.
Getting Book Distribution Based on Your Goals
On Which Platforms Do You Want To Make Your Book Available?
At the outset, it’s important to decide where you plan to make your book available. Some of the possible options are:
- Your website
- Other online retailers such as iBooks, Nook, Google Play and Kobo
I mention Amazon as a separate option because you can elect to go with KDP Select. This is a program that makes your e-book exclusive to the Kindle Store, and you’re not allowed to sell it anywhere else.
One of the advantages of being in KDP Select is that you earn a share of the KDP Select fund based on how many pages of your book customers read when they download it for free through the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program or the Amazon Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (KOLL).
Enrolling in KDP Select also gives you access to some promotional tools, such as free book promotions and Kindle countdown deals.
Amazon is a giant in the book-publishing business, and most of your income will come from them since they own more than 70% of the market for eBooks in the US and more than 80% in the UK. There are certain advantages of being in the KDP Select program, but again, signing up for KDP Select means you can’t sell elsewhere, so this option will not be a good fit for every author in every situation.
For example, if you already have a name in the publishing industry or are launching a national publicity campaign on radio or TV, it would probably be better to also sell on other platforms to get the widest reach. And if your main objective is to show your expertise and get more brand recognition, you may want to be able to sell your e-book on your own website.
If you want to sell your book through other platforms, as well, you could consider using a service such as Smashwords or Draft2Digital. These are distribution platforms that allow you to quickly distribute your e-book to different retailers.
Building a Self Publishing Team to Achieve Your Goals
Should you do it Yourself or Outsource the Work?
There are a lot of steps you need to take care of when you first self-publish a book. For every single thing on the Kindle self publishing checklist, you need to ask yourself whether you’re going to do it yourself or outsource it to someone else.
Here are some of the tasks you may want to find an experienced professional to do for you, or at least help you with:
- Creating a book cover design
- Writing an Amazon book description to help you get more sales
- Editing and proofreading
- Formatting your e-book
- Creating a paperback book
- Book Marketing and promotion
And the list can go on; there are a lot of things to manage along your self publishing journey.
In my mind, one of the worst mistakes you can make as a beginning author is to try to do everything yourself.
I understand that if you’re publishing your first book, and you have no clue whether it’s going to be successful, you may not want to invest a lot of money to get it published. But that’s not necessarily the right mindset for long-term success.
If you try to save costs and do everything yourself, you will probably end up with a book that won’t sell, anyway. In the end, you will have invested a lot of your valuable time on a book that never had much chance of succeeding in the first place because you can’t do everything on a professional level without some help from experienced professionals.
Be honest with yourself, and don’t try to do everything on your own just to save some money.
Many authors fail because they get a book out there with an ugly book cover they designed themselves and a poorly written blurb or description that doesn’t convince people to buy their book.
Investing some money upfront to get help in the areas you’re not good at will often show a good return on investment.
Publishing your book is a big project, and if you’re going to do it, you’d better do it the best way possible. Taking shortcuts is not how you become a successful author.
What’s Your Self Publishing Plan?
Having a plan with your book, setting goals, and creating a clear vision of what you want to achieve with self-publishing makes all the difference.
A plan will maximize your chances of success and will make the whole journey of self-publishing a lot easier.
Creating a plan is all about making the right choices. What works for someone else may not be suitable for you.
Think about where you want to go and what you want to achieve, and you’ll have an easier time making the right choices.
Right now, grab your journal or notebook and start creating your self publishing plan. You’ll be glad you did.
About the author
Mike Turner is an author, poker player, and entrepreneur. He started with self-publishing in 2012 and has published several books under different pen names.
He runs the website KickstartPoker.com, where he writes about poker strategy.
For more information, you can also check out his author page at www.amazon.com/author/miketurner.