Everything You Wanted to Know about Self-Publishing: Tips from a Bestseller
Writing a book is something that many people dream about, but not everyone goes on to do. And what makes things even worse is that there are so many misconceptions and outright lies about how to publish a book and make money from it.
That’s what today’s post is all about. I’m going to tackle some of the misconceptions about self-publishing and tell you the real deal. What you can expect, how to do it the right way, and what you should avoid.
So buckle up and let’s take a look at the topic of self-publishing in a question and answer format.
How Much Money Can You Make from a Self-Published Book?
This is one of the most frequent questions I get, and one that’s near and dear to my heart because so many newbie writers have it wrong. There is a lot of press about authors who publish a book on Amazon and go on to make millions. But here’s the truth—the reason those authors make the news is because it’s so rare.
The reality is a lot different. Most self-published authors make enough money to pay for the cost of publishing, and not much more. But before you decide that publishing a book isn’t right for you, listen up. Most authors put a book out there and then sit back and wait for it to sell. You will never—unless you’re one of the very few lucky ones—make a living by writing that way.
I have published nine books in my Work from Home series, including my Writer’s Toolkit Boxed Set, in the past two years, and it wasn’t until the fifth book that I began to see some pretty good success. For the first four books, I was building a foundation, my credibility, my email list, and my voice.
It wasn’t that I didn’t see success before my fifth book, in fact, my second book, How to Build a Writing Empire in 30 Days or Less, sold almost $2,000 a month for a time. But it was short-lived and very different than my sales patterns today.
After people came to understand that I will always publish a quality book that gives them solid information, they began to follow me and read my subsequent books. And Amazon took notice, too. It keeps my books visible, even when I have a bad sales day, and that helps. It has also figured out that I’m here to stay.
So, to answer your question—it depends. If you’re serious about writing quality books on a consistent schedule, it is possible to replace your day job with a writing career. Just don’t expect it to happen overnight.
How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Book?
My heart breaks every time someone emails me to tell me how they’ve been ripped off by some unscrupulous “publisher.” It happens more often than you would think.
But here’s the deal—you don’t need someone to publish your book for you. You can do it for well under $100—or in some cases, for free.
For example, some people pay hundreds, or even thousands of dollars to have someone create a book cover for them. And while good book covers are an essential part of a bestselling book, they don’t have to break the bank.
Take, for example, my two bestselling books. I designed the book cover for How to Build a Writing in 30 Days or Less on canva.com for free. And for my book, How to Publish a Book on Amazon, I used my favorite book cover designer to create it for $30.
You can format the book yourself, pay someone on Fiverr to design the paperback version, and upload the book to KDP all by your lonesome. And editing doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. You can edit the book yourself, have your advance reading team edit it for you before it’s published (A shout-out to mine—thank you!), or go to Kboards/Writer’s Café and look for a professional editor who charges reasonable rates. I used one from there who charged me $50 to edit my entire book.
You see? Next time you ask yourself, “How can I publish my own book for free?” think about what I’ve said. Paying someone to do this for you is absolutely unnecessary.
What is the Best Self-Publishing Company Out There?
You are. Read the above paragraph.
What is the Best Site for Self-Publishing?
There is a lot of talk about going wide, but here’s my opinion. No other site is going to pay you by the page as readers read your book. I’m talking of course about KU Unlimited. When you enroll your book in it on Amazon, it means you must remain exclusive with Amazon for the Kindle version. A lot of authors don’t like that exclusivity, but personally, I wouldn’t do it any other way.
Here’s why. The page reads add up to a significant portion of my monthly sales, and all those borrows help keep my books high up in the book categories.
When you read other authors who have gone wide, many of them eventually go back to exclusivity with Amazon? Why? Because it’s where most people buy books. That’s why my books are there, and why yours should be too.
How Do You Publish a Bestseller?
There is a misconception about publishing a bestseller. Some people think it’s enough to publish a great book and then sit back and watch the royalties roll in. And while it’s true that no book will ever become a bestseller unless it’s well written and includes tons of great information, it’s also true that unless people know the book exists, it doesn’t have a chance of selling.
And here’s how that works.
When I first started publishing books on Amazon, I had to run promotions every couple of months to get my books pushed up into the book categories so people could see them. I noticed that once they reached the top 20 in any category, they would sell, but after the promo was over, they would sink back down into obscurity.
So I kept writing and publishing books, and before long, I noticed that the books started sitting at certain spots in the categories. You see, Amazon gets much more excited about books that sell consistently over time than one-hit ponies. It wants to display books that it knows people are going to buy. And that takes time and persistence.
After Amazon realizes that you’re in it to stay, it will begin to promote your books for you by enrolling it in Great on Kindle, showcasing your new releases in the Hot New Releases Category, showing your book in the “Also Bought’s” and “Recommended for You” categories, including your book in its automated discount program (your royalties remain the same, but customers can buy your book for less), and giving you a chance to be in Prime promotions.
Nowadays, I run a promotion about twice a year, but my books still sell. It took consistently, patience, and putting out quality books. If you’re willing to look at self-publishing as long game and not for instant success, you can do the same.
So, back to the question, how do you publish a bestseller? You do it by putting out quality books and tending to the business side of being an author. In other words, you build your brand step-by-step, and in a couple of years, you’ll have a bestseller. A perfect example of this is my first book, How to Work from Home and Make Money. When I first published it, it did okay, but was a long way from bestseller status. Then, at the beginning of this year, it hit the number one position in every one of its categories.
How did that happen? Was the book better now than it had been when I first published it? No, but the people who had read my other books eventually found it, and pushed it to bestselling status.
What do you think? Do the answers to these questions help clear up the confusion to your questions about self-publishing? If I missed something, please leave me a comment below and I’ll answer you right away!