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The Highs and Lows of Self-Publishing

I love writing non-fiction and fiction!
I’m not so thrilled with marketing what I’ve written.

Sharon Michaels Self-Published

I self-published my first book in 1996. That was before ebooks and print on demand. I had to literally take my manuscript to a printer a few hundred miles from where I lived and then drive back to pick up boxes of paperback books after they were printed.

I mainly sold my books during speaking engagements. It was fun, challenging and profitable.

My lifestyle has changed quite a bit since 1996. For years my husband and I were caregivers to aging relatives. That meant we stayed close to home. I didn’t speak nearly as much. I did though start a local networking group and met some great women entrepreneurs. I made connections who helped me sell my books through word-of-mouth. I wasn’t totally isolated, but didn’t have the exposure I once had.

Sure the internet opened up a whole new way to market my writing, but there was a learning curve. I also needed to find my “niche” within the new internet revolution. I had to figure out what would make me, a self-published author, stand above the crowd.

Fast forward to today: Now that we have the time, I don’t have the energy to travel around accepting speaking engagements. I’m finding myself more of a homebody. I want to plan my day based on my schedule, not a schedule someone plans for me. I started a blog, became a contributor to international websites, developed a presence on social media and created a YouTube channel and a weekly podcast. I learned to wisely use the internet as a marketing tool.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if I could wave a magic wand, I’d spend my whole day writing and not having to market my books. But, being a self-published author means I wear many hats. Sure I can hire out the editing, the web design and even the public relations and marketing. Being a two person operation (my husband and myself) means we’ve learned to develop a few new skills we never thought we’d be learning. I guess I don’t want to give up the control and farm out bits and pieces of my business.

Here are the joys and frustrations I’ve found being a self-published author:

The Joys:

  1. You are your own boss.
  2. You have control over the look and feel of your content and finished product.
  3. You control your writing timelines and deadlines.
  4. You plan and implement your own marketing campaigns.
  5. You enjoy the profits.

The Frustrations:

  1. You are your own boss and are accountable to yourself. Organization and discipline are key. Your work hours, schedule and the finished work product are all up to you.
  2. Since you are the author, sometimes it is not wise to have complete control over every aspect of your book. You may not always be the best judge of how well something is or isn’t working.
  3. Because you are emotionally close to your finished book, it can be difficult to be objective when it comes to marketing and promoting your product.
  4. If you’re like most authors, you want to be writing and not marketing or promoting. BUT, you can write hundreds of books and if no one knows they’ve been written and for sale, you are wasting your time. Unless of course writing is strictly a hobby, which is totally up to you.
  5. Book sales can trickle in slowly and inconsistently.

My advice from 20 plus years of self-publishing:

  1. Write a business plan for your writing business. Take your writing seriously if you want to make it profitable.
  2. Plan out a writing schedule and stick to it. Have timelines for starting, finishing, editing, publishing and marketing your books.
  3. Have someone other than yourself edit your writing. I believe you cannot write and do the final edits yourself. You need outside eyes who can be objective about your work.
  4. Learn the craft of self-publishing. It is a craft. Learn formatting, cover design and the best venues for selling your books. If you don’t want to do all this yourself, hire someone who is competent, cooperative and knows the industry.
  5. Be prepared to spend time, energy and money marketing your books! I’d say it takes as much time to market your finished products as it does to write them. If that doesn’t interest you, then find someone to do it for you.

Bottom Line:

I wouldn’t trade self-publishing my books for anything. The feeling of self-satisfaction and accomplishment when I see the finished product displayed on Amazon is worth the hours of writing, formatting, etc. If a publisher offered me several million dollars for one of my books, I probably wouldn’t say no. Right now though, I’ll stick with the highs and lows of self-publishing.

You’ll want to check out all my self-published books!
Here is a link to my Amazon Author Page:
Sharon Michaels Author Page on Amazon

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