I am a blogger turned author from India, Asia. I always wanted to write books, and I am sure most of you reading this share my passion for writing.
When I first started, I thought sewing words in an interesting pattern into a story was the toughest job, but I was wrong.
It is easy to start a story. Staying self-motivated and focused enough to finish your book is the biggest hurdle most writers must overcome.
One fine morning, my first draft was ready.
Another day, I’d finished my revisions.
I thought I was all done.
We writers don’t see beyond a completed manuscript when we start. The actual struggle for us begins only after we mark our manuscript “Final.”
After we finish the book and get it published, we have to find a way to reach readers and sell the book.
I am writing this piece to share my writing and publishing experience. I have traditionally published three books and took the Kindle self-publishing route for a few others, including my non-fiction books.
Let me tell you what made me choose self-publishing, despite the fact I’d already published traditionally three different times.
My Traditional Publishing Journey
In my country, the primary sources of entertainment are television and the film industry. Books take a back seat, trying hard these days to compete with visual-entertainment media.
Under such circumstances, getting a book published in a traditional manner is very difficult. Three years after I started to blog, I began writing a story as a blog series. A publisher who was looking for good manuscripts accidentally landed on my blog and read the series.
He immediately approached me and handed over a contract for a traditional publishing deal. That’s how my journey as an author started. The other two contracts came one after the other, piggybacking on the success of my first book.
Getting your first book out is not so easy. I should admit that I was extremely lucky. But luck doesn’t favor everyone. I know some amazing writers who are still struggling to get their first contract. I advise them to self-publish their books.
Let me explain.
Comparing Self Publishing to Traditional Publishing
Is self publishing really any less prestigious than traditional publishing?
After my third book hit the stores, I met a Kindle self-published author, Jyotsna Ramachandran, at a social influencers meeting. She spoke a lot about how Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) changed her life.
Until then, I was so biased against the eBook market because of what I had been taught by others in the industry. I thought it was less prestigious to be a self-published author. I wondered if readers even bothered to buy eBooks.
I was ignorant about digital publishing, and I approached Ms. Ramachandran to find out more. She was kind enough to explain everything she knew about Kindle publishing.
I wanted to try digital publishing with my first book, Just You, Me, and a Secret. Her first piece of advice was for me to change the cover of my book. I laughed. Come on! I had sold thousands of paperback copies with my cover. Why would I want to buy another one? But she insisted, saying the digital version of the cover was not as attractive as it was in paperback format.
I decided to give it a try.
She asked me to give away my book for free for three days. Why would I give away something I’d worked so hard to create?
But I did as she said—after all, she was the expert. She also suggested that I post about my free book on a few sites.
People downloaded the book like crazy. I was so worried that I had lost many potential buyers by giving away my book for free. My book was on the bestseller chart under free books and had a score of less than #1,000 in the overall Kindle ranking.
On the third day, at 12:00 a.m. in India, we stopped the free promo and raised the price to $0.99. We also advertised this new price on a few other websites immediately after the free KDP promo ended.
That night, I had some sales, although my book was still listed under free books. My book already had a best-seller rank under paid books before it was assigned to the paid book ranking because Amazon takes a while to change books from the free category to the paid one.
Also, people who look at the free bestsellers don’t mind paying $0.99 if the blurb attracts their interest. I began seeing sales of at least one copy a day, a trend that continues even now. More important to me than the sales are the GoodReads reviews, and being able to reach a global audience excited me.
Learning How to Self Publish My Books
Slowly, I learned about the Kindle market.
I added a table of contents.
I worked on the keywords.
Trust me, each of these helps you drive sales.
After the success of my first book, Just You, Me, and a Secret, I started publishing non-fiction books.
My first non-fiction is 60 Creative Writing Prompts and Plots. This book is full of creative prompts and directions on how to use them in various genres. Each plot has at least two examples, showing how to use it within a different genre.
I did very little promotion for this book, and when I checked my sales statistics, I discovered I had sold six copies just today. Right now, the books ranks below #50,000 in overall paid books. When authors ping me on Facebook to say my book helped them start writing again, or helped them overcome writer’s block, or encouraged them to start writing fiction, I get a huge sense of satisfaction.
There are three books in the Creative Prompts and Plots series so far. The third in this series is a consolidation of the first two books called the PLOT ENGINE, which has more than one hundred and twenty story ideas in a single book.
The major difference between KDP self publishing and traditional publishing is the freedom. With KDP, you write what you want, how you want, and when you want. You choose your cover without a publisher telling you what to do and how to do it.
Just as importantly, you know exactly how many copies of your books are downloaded each day and get paid for them directly. The numbers are not very transparent in traditional publishing.
Every book is a learning experience for me. Kindle Publishing has given me a good passive income. Though I am not earning $1,000 per month from my Kindle books, I am sure I will be there soon. My target is to have at least 50 books by the end of next year and to sell at least one copy of each of these books every single day.
Tips for New Self Publishing Authors on Amazon Kindle
- A book with a good Kindle cover will sell well. The cover should be relevant and intriguing.
- A well-formatted book gives you good KENP money (KENP is an estimate of the number of pages of your books readers have read through the Kindle Unlimited (KU) or Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL) programs). If it is not in the right format, a Kindle user will not keep turning pages, and your earnings will decrease.
- Work on your keywords often. Experiment a lot, changing the keywords every month or so.
- Never feel shy to ask for reviews. Reviews help your book sell on its own.
- Improve your content based on reviews.
- Don’t stop with one book, expecting success to knock on your door. Keep writing and publishing great books.
Want Coaching for Your Next Book?
I am starting my plot-coaching program very soon. In this course, I will help aspiring authors find plots and assist them with developing these plots into interesting stories. This is not grammar coaching or writing-style coaching.
In this program, we’ll focus on the story. My creative writing prompts and plots books will give you an idea of what you can expect from this program. Contact me at [email protected] for an introductory session.
Ganga Bharani Vasudevan
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- My Journey from Traditional Publishing to Self Publishing on Kindle - November 2, 2016