Updated: Jan 28
Writing a book is scary. Publishing it? Now that's terrifying!
You put your heart and soul into this book. You slaved over it for months (years?) and it's your baby. Now it's finished. You've done the research, and you're thinking about self-publishing to share it with the world.
But self-publishing is a terrifying idea. What if your book flops? What if you get a bunch of negative reviews? What if you're no good at marketing or business management or any of that stuff? WHAT IF YOU FAIL?
I've been there.
I've wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. I let the dream fade during my teenage years and throughout college, and then it reignited when I graduated with my Bachelor's degree. I had written a romantic suspense book, and I wanted to get it published. At first, I considered going the traditional publishing route, but I quickly realized that my book didn't quite fit into the romantic suspense niche. It wasn't steamy enough for many of the books in the market, but I knew it had a solid story and some readers would love it. So I decided to self-publish.
But oh, self-publishing is terrifying. I knew nothing about what it took to do it, and the more I researched, the more I realized how little I knew. There were so many things that could go wrong. So many ways my book (and my business) could fail.
I overcame that fear, and I'm so glad I did. Now I want to share with you how I did it.
Research, Research, Research
They say knowledge is power, and they're so right. The first step in overcoming your fear is to research the heck out of it so you know what you're getting into.
Self-publishing is a huge undertaking... and yet it's not as difficult as it sounds. It can be as simple as purchasing a pre-made cover and uploading your book to Amazon, or it can be as complicated as hiring editors and cover designers and engineering a massive wide book launch with stacked marketing promos and book tours.
If all of that sounds like nonsense to you... it's time to do your research. ;)
A great place to start is the 20Booksto50k Facebook group. You can find answers to ANY question you can think of about the business of self-publishing. If classes are more your thing, you can check out their YouTube page where they post videos of all the sessions from their annual conference for free. There's a wealth of information there that's yours for the taking, and you'll never meet a kinder group of people!
If you like online courses, Mark Dawson is a big wig in the self-publishing community, and he offers a self-publishing course that outlines everything you need to know about self-publishing.
The more you know about the subject, the less scary and overwhelming it will become. I promise!
Set Realistic Expectations
Now that you've done a bit of research (and realized how much you don't know), it's time to set some realistic expectations. As I'm sure you'll realize from the 20Booksto50k group, if you want to make a living as an author, it likely won't happen with one book. According to Craig Martelle's calculations, it takes approximately 20 books to make $50K per month... hence the group's name. ;)
Let me be real with you. I have 4 books published (soon to be 5), and I make about $50 per month in a good month. Granted, my first 4 books are not written to market, and they're in a tiny niche. I've learned a lot since I published them, and book 5 is diving into a new genre that I'm hoping will be more lucrative!
The important thing to remember is that your first book likely won't be a best-seller. Never say never, but also don't expect to make a million bucks with one title! If you want to turn your writing into a career, release this book into the world and focus on writing the next one. According to Craig Martelle, the founder of 20Booksto50k... nothing sells this book like publishing the next one.
Prepare to Fail
You WILL fail. You will choose a terrible cover for a book. You will receive one-star reviews. You will blow money on marketing that never sees a return. It's inevitable in the publishing business, especially when you're first starting out. It's scary, but if you dive in knowing that you WILL fail, then you won't be surprised when it happens.
But you know what? With every failure, you'll learn a valuable lesson. You'll learn about cover design and matching it to the market. You'll see your book's flaws in those one-star reviews and learn from them. You'll learn how to track your marketing to minimize money wasted. With every book you release, you'll get a little better and you'll make a little more money. And before you know it, you'll have 20 books under your belt and you'll be making a living as an author.
The Bottom Line
If you take one thing from this blog post, let it be this: PUBLISH THE DANG BOOK. It's terrifying and you might fail, but I promise you won't regret making the leap anyway. Support and learn from other authors on your journey, and someday when you're living your dream as an author, reach down a hand and help another author who's just starting.
To quote the 20Booksto50K moniker, "A rising tide lifts all boats."