Self-Publishing for Authors [Ep. 3]

What is self-publishing? And why should an author consider it?

I’m going to change my format just a little from here on in. The last couple of weeks I have been writing a blog post on one topic, then doing a podcast episode on another. By the time the show notes and transcript is finished, it’s time to start all over again. As of today, you can read the blog post, listen to the podcast…or both.

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

Episode 3: Self-Publishing for Authors

Since I still write out my script, no additional transcript will be included. As I get more comfortable with talking into the mic without the entire episode written out, transcripts will be included.

Without further ado, here is Episode 3: Self-Publishing for Authors

Self-Publishing for Authors

Self-publishing. What is that exactly you may be wondering.

In a nutshell, it is getting a book or other work published without going through a publishing house or label.

There are pros and cons to self-publishing just as there are with practically any other business venture, but in my opinion the pros outweigh the cons.

This episode is going to focus on independent authors self-publishing their books, with comparisons and references made to other types of publishing. 

As I mentioned in my first episode, I chose to self-publish. It is becoming a lot more common, and acceptable to do so nowadays.

When some people hear the words self-published they automatically presume the book wasn’t good enough to get accepted by a traditional publisher. In all honesty, that’s what I thought in the beginning too. As I did my research though, I realized there’s a lot of pressure put on independent authors. 

If you want to be taken seriously as an author and are doing it all on your own, you have to make sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Doing a half-assed job will not earn you any good reviews.

It doesn’t matter how good your story or subject matter is. If you have a book filled with typos, spelling errors, and poor formatting, your readers will soon tell others how bad your book is. A publisher wouldn’t accept poor quality, so you shouldn’t independently publish poor quality.

When you decide on your genre, content, and book length it’s time to start writing. And also time to start telling the world about it. I made the mistake of finishing my books before saying anything to anyone about them. By doing so I didn’t build an audience waiting for my book’s release. Sometimes I’m a little too introverted for my own good.

One of the first things a traditional publisher wants to know is what you’ve done to market your book. If you haven’t done anything then it’s going to be that much harder to convince them you’re serious about making sales. Gone are the days of a publisher doing all the work.

Something else that may tip the scales in favour of being self-published is the dollar factor. Very few authors are writing just to help or entertain others. 

Publishing your own books does give you more control over title, content, and pricing. Plus with platforms such as Kindle, Kobo, and Lulu, you have options in terms of ebook, print, audio or a combination of the three. I have only named the three because they’re the ones I’m most familiar with.

In the first episode I briefly touched on the low percentage an author actually earns when traditionally published. Let me explain.

A traditional publisher pays, on average, an 8% royalty rate to the author. An ebook might get you 25%. If you publish on your own via Kindle, Kobo, or other platforms, your royalties for a print book can be up to 60%, and as high as 90% for an ebook.

If you were to publish one book traditionally at $25 retail and you got an advance of $25,000, it would take 12,500 copies sold for the advance to be paid off. And yes, you do not earn anything extra until that advance is paid in full. (Side note here: the royalty you earn will only be $2 per copy, which is why it’ll take so many books to be sold.)

If you self-published that same book and sold it for the same price, it would only take 1667 copies sold to make that amount of money. And you’d even be $5 ahead. I think it would be much easier to sell 1667 copies as opposed to 12,500, don’t you? Granted you don’t get an advance when self publishing, but with the print on demand services available you don’t have the upfront costs either.

I personally prefer the ebook route, but do have my romance novellas available in print on Amazon as well. My Pipestone Creek Series is also available as a bundle download in my NotJustAlpacaDesigns Etsy Shop. I will be moving it to my website in the not-too-distant future, which will then allow me to earn a little more. Etsy is really not the best place for ebooks; at least not for me.

In the first episode I also mentioned what is called a vanity publisher. What they do is print and market your books, to a point. They’ll also try to upsell you editing packages, whereas a traditional publisher does all of the editing for you.

Vanity publishers prey on authors who want their books done quickly, but said authors also pay the price. I almost fell for their scheme, and I think if I would’ve had the thousands of dollars they wanted to publish my book, I probably would have gone that route. Thankfully my bank account was almost empty, and upon further research I realized I had almost been taken advantage of.

They call themselves independent publishers, but if they’re asking for money upfront they’re really a vanity publisher. There are small publishing companies that do pay authors an advance, so do your homework to make sure you’re not being taken for a ride.

Here’s how you know if you’re dealing with a legitimate publishing company or a vanity publisher. A legitimate publisher will never ask the author to pay anything up front. The vanity publisher will. If you’re being asked to pay, turn around and walk away.

Whether you’re self publishing or going through a publisher, there’s a lot of work to be done on your part. The planning, outlining, writing, first edit, second edit, marketing, pricing, cover design, blurbs, and so on. Books of more than a few thousand words are rarely written in a weekend, and even then it takes time to make sure it flows smoothly.

Self-publishing may not work for everyone, and that’s okay. And there’s nothing wrong with being traditionally published. In fact, I think having my name on a book published by HarperCollins or Simon & Schuster would be my greatest achievement as an author. 

I am more of a “let’s get it out there” type of person, rather than waiting for an acceptance or rejection letter. I write what makes me happy, and to entertain and educate others. And the money plays a part too. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t.

I suck at the marketing end of it, which is why my sales aren’t as good as they could be. I’d much rather be writing than marketing, but truth be told, that attitude hasn’t helped my cause any.

As a self-publisher you need to do all of the things, and if you don’t want to do certain tasks, then you’re going to have to hire some help. A virtual assistant could take care of the marketing so you can concentrate on the writing. It all depends on how much you want to earn as an author, and how quickly you want to be in the top 100.

An editor may be necessary if spelling and sentence structure isn’t your strong suit. Just because you weren’t a Straight A student in English doesn’t mean you can’t write and publish a book. That’s why speech to text was invented I’m sure.

I find when it comes to editing my own work I have to step away from it for a while. Reading out loud also helps me catch mistakes, as does using the text to speech feature on my computer. When we edit our own work we automatically put the words in as we’re reading, even if they aren’t there. I’ve done it more than once, and was thankful I caught it before it was published.

That brings me to another point. When self-publishing it’s a lot easier to fix errors and resubmit a manuscript. And with the print on demand services, you’ll never be stuck with 5000 copies of a book with a major error in it.

Pricing your book is one of the most difficult tasks as far as I’m concerned. I firmly believe an ebook should not be as much, or more than a print book; yet the experts advise differently. In my opinion once the file is submitted there’s no additional cost directly related to that file. However, if you look on Amazon and other ebook retailers, you’ll see prices for ebooks sometimes higher than their print counterparts. 

Audiobooks on the other hand, I can see why they’re on the higher end of the price point. It takes a lot of prep time and work to get them just right. I have listened to several audiobooks through the years and can’t imagine how long it must take to get each chapter just right.

Audiobooks are, however, another avenue you can take with your self-published books. I plan on narrating my own as I become more comfortable with the microphone and hearing myself talk. Have I said I don’t like the sound of my voice?

The topic of self-publishing is one that has its pros and cons. I like the versatility I have when publishing, and have been able to take what I have learned and help others avoid some of the mistakes I made. As I continue my self-publishing journey I’ll be able to relay more information. 

I have to be honest: my book writing has been at a standstill since Ross passed away. He was my biggest supporter, and teased me about being a kept man whenever I made a sale. As I’ve been writing the script for this episode I realize how much I have missed working on my books. And perhaps getting back to my unfinished manuscript will help with the healing and moving forward as well.

Authors write for different reasons, and publish in whatever format works for them. If you choose to self-publish, keep these key points in mind.

  1. Do your very best work so you get the very best reviews.
  2. Decide which format will work best for your audience. Not everyone likes an ebook.
  3. Price competitively. You’re undervaluing your work if you price too low. (Oh dear…I just had an “aha” moment. I guess I need to practice what I preach here.)
  4. Write to educate or entertain.
  5. When you self-publish you don’t have to have a 100,000 word manuscript. Short ebooks can be in the 5000 word range and be packed with valuable information.
  6. Be yourself in your writing. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. (This point was brought up in Episode 2 but also applies to you as an author.)
  7. Hire help for the tasks you don’t have time for or don’t like to do. Your teenager could be a wonderful asset if they’re given social media tasks.

In the next episode I’ll be talking about turning your hobby into a side hustle. Have a great week and I’ll see you then.

And in case you missed them, I have included the first two episodes below.

Episode 1: Take On Life After 50
Episode 2: Information Products and How to Create Them

If you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.


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Hot Hot Summer

Is it really the 5th of August?

I’ve been trying to stay cool, but in my single level home without AC it’s not an easy thing to do. This summer has been the hottest I can remember, and I’ve seen a LOT of summers.

My rain gauge recorded 1.52 mm (yes, mm) of rain in July, and so far this month there hasn’t been anything more than a light shower that barely got the deck wet. I’m worried for the farmers; their livelihood depends so much on the weather.

I’m fortunate to live out in the country because I am able to water my garden with well water. I’m glad I took the time to build more raised beds this year, as it makes watering, weeding, and harvesting easier. Plus, just the veggies are getting watered; not all the weeds too. (Although, the weeds do seem to thrive no matter what the water situation is.)

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

My last few posts have been about grief and missing Ross, which is where I’m at. However, as much as I miss him I do know it’s not what I should focus on. There are still some hard days, and there are some good ones too. Life goes on no matter what shit-show we’re dealt, and it’s up to us to make the best of each day.

I have spent some time working on new planners and have recently listed two new ones in my Etsy Shop. One is digital (for use with Goodnotes or Noteworthy), and the other is basically the same thing but set up to be a printable. The printable version has an extra category and contains only one of each sheet. Not only does that make it more economical, it also gives you the option to only print the pages you need (and as many of them as you wish for your own use).

The latest planner I designed.

Most people have a Bucket List, which is all the things they want to do before they die. After I hiked to the summit of a mountain in Jasper last fall, I decided there should be a Fuck-It List as well. And by that I mean doing something on the Bucket List, but not wanting to do it again. My latest planners contain that list. 🙂

I am currently revamping the Writer’s Planner I have listed in my shop. It’s going to be easier to use, is clearer than the first one, and will be available as a printable only. I may consider designing a digital one down the road, but for now I feel the printable is better geared to where writers like me are at.

I’m finally getting to a place where the things I enjoyed doing before Ross passed away are bringing me joy again. I love to write, design printables, and design crocheted items. Today marks the 15th month since he passed away, and there’s not a day goes by that I don’t think about him or miss him. As I have said before; I’m not moving on, I’m moving forward.

Now if you’re wondering how I created the planners, I have to give credit where credit is due. I enrolled in a course by The Secret OWL Society and have worked my way through the lessons. If you are interested in checking it out for yourself and creating your own for personal use or as a business, check out the Digital Planner Template. (Please note: I am an affiliate for this product and will receive commission from your purchase, but at no extra cost to you.)

I am enjoying the planner creation process and have learned about myself in the midst of it all. I love the versatility it gives me to move forward during this season of my life.

Have a wonderful day!

My Trip to Imaginairium

I hope everyone has had a good couple of weeks. I thought it was just a week ago that I last posted, and realized I haven’t written anything since the ninth. Shame on me!

I enjoyed my time at Imaginairium, and for those of you who follow my author Instagram, you will have seen my posts. For those of you who don’t, feel free to do so. I don’t post there daily, but I prefer quality over quantity.

We are getting a taste of winter today, complete with blowing snow. It doesn’t make me happy, because so many crops are still out in the field. It’s going to be a tough year for the farmers if they can’t get the harvesting done because of the weather. 

Now, let me backtrack a little and tell you a bit about my trip to Calgary for Wordfest’s Imaginairium. My drive down was mostly uneventful, aside from getting a rock in my windshield which has led to a crack at least twelve inches long, so far. (My glass guy says it’s not fixable, so I will wait and see what happens through the winter. If the crack obstructs my line of vision, I’ll be getting a new windshield sooner than I had anticipated.)

When I got to Calgary I was quite impressed with the fact I didn’t have to rely on my GPS to get to my home-away-from-home. I surprised myself on that one. It has been over a year since I was in Calgary, so I was afraid I wouldn’t remember where my turnoff was.

My first day of Imaginairium was a little stressful, and it started with the public transit driver not being very helpful. Thankfully I had my phone and I utilized my GPS to navigate where I needed to be once I got off the bus. I walked several blocks to the new Central Public Library downtown, and was quite overwhelmed by the sheer size of it. I’m sure our little library would have fit in the main entryway.

My first event was at Memorial Library, which is several blocks away. Even with all of the walking, I still managed to get into the event before my first scheduled one. I was quite pleased about that, because I was ready for a break. Having a pass for the entire week was beneficial.

A neat thing the organizers did this year was to have attendees collect beads from each event. Apparently it was the first year to try it, and I think it was well-received. I enjoyed being able to add a bead to my bracelet at the beginning of each event I attended. Each was different, and there was one special author bead in each bag. I didn’t get any of the special ones, but for those who did it would have been quite exciting.

For me the most memorable event was the one by author Michael Christie when he talked about his latest book Greenwood. It spans over four generations, and talks about trees, family roots and climate change. I have yet to read it, but have my very own autographed copy for when I am able to sit down with it. I briefly spoke with Michael while he was signing it for me, and he is a down-to-earth gentleman. I wish him all the best with his books.

In addition to me attending several of the events, I also took some time to go to Cross Iron Mills. I started at one end where I bought myself some new walking shoes, and ended at the other end where I spent well over an hour in the Indigo bookstore. I ended up leaving there with five books; one of them being the Writer’s Guide to Character Traits Second Edition. It will come in handy when I’m writing my stories.

I highly recommend attending an event such as Wordfest’s Imaginairium to writers and readers alike. For me it was a step outside of my comfort zone, but I am happy with my decision. Perhaps one day I will be in front of the room telling the audience about my books.

Photo Credit: Diane Ziomek
I took this after the event. Note the beads on the bracelet (his is the first from the left); I did add a few from additional events.

With all that being said, I’m gearing up for National Novel Writing Month, which begins November 1st. I have a basic plot figured out, but my characters will need to help me out with my story. It’s going to be a busy month with working, writing and getting ready for our local Christmas Extravaganza Craft Market.

Have a great week!

Diane

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