Being a self-published author

Self-published book covers
Self-published book covers

I have tried this, and I haven’t been very successful at it. I think I know where I went wrong and how I could improve. If you have some pointers for me, I’d love to see them in the comments below.

The first book I self-published is Frankie and the Claws, a gripping tale of daring bravery and friendship against all odds. For teen-genius Rupert McAllister, building a window to another dimension is just another day in the life. But when a freak lightning strike crashes down his invention sparks to life and disaster strikes – his lovable pooch, Frankie the Dachshund is catapulted to a distant land at the other end of the universe.

We had just lost our dog Rupert, and it had hit me hard, which is where I got the inspiration for this book. I didn’t think much about marketing at the time and threw it out there. Over the years I have done some improvements to sales copy and the cover and sell a few copies every now and then.

The second book is a picture book, The Planet Chomper. If you read my blog it will come as no surprise that I love science fiction and I wanted to do a story with science fiction themes. Again, I had some money and just went for it without much planning. this is a common thread with me and a mistake. Plan ahead, think about marketing, marketing costs, sales copy, professional photos of merchandise etc etc. There is quite a lot that goes into it and you should prepare to make it your life for 6 months or so. Don’t just do it on a whim and hope to be successful.

It is so easy to self-publishing these days with serviced like Amazon KDP that there is a lot of competition and the market is saturated with self-publishers. It helps to have a popular theme or book based around trending keywords.

I suggest you join some of the Children’s picture book Facebook groups if you are planning on publishing a picture book. The people are so helpful, the information provided is essential and a some of them will be your first customers.

TIP: Don’t just join the group, not be an active participating member and hope to sell books to these people and get helpful tips. Participate in chats and network with other members to build a repour. Post often about your publishing journey and you will be rewarded with help and a customer base.

Back to my book The Planet Chomper. Ever since it was a baby, the Planet Chomper has worked its way through the universe, guzzling on delicious planets big and small. It gnashes through mountains and slurps up oceans. No planet is too big…

Essentially the story is about a selfish monster eating its way through space and honestly, I think it is pretty good. So why didn’t I succeed? Here are some of my thoughts.

  • I didn’t plan and tried started on a shoestring budget.
  • I didn’t narrow down my target market for marketing. The story is about selfishness, but I think I was too subtle. If you want to target a behaviour or certain issue, really go for it and make sure that theme really stands out. I could have marketed towards children interested in space, but that is a very broad theme, and I didn’t target that well enough either. In other words, my marketing strategy stunk!
  • I didn’t join the Facebook groups till after I went live. Seriously, the Facebook groups for Children’s books as one of the best resources you will find.
  • I had only enough budget to create the book and didn’t think past that. There is sales copy, marketing, paid advertising, printing costs, professional photography and more to think about.
  • I didn’t self-promote as an author. You have to get out there and sell, sell, sell. Go to markets, organise school visits and library readings. Create Youtube videos and an author’s page on Social applications.

You could also start a crowdfunding campaign to start our book. I haven’t done one, so I am no help there, but there are Facebook groups you can join.

I honestly suggest you look for Facebook groups if you plan on self-publishing and learn all you can before starting. In hindsight, that is what I would do. There are people starting out asking the same questions you need to ask and successful people to learn from.

In the end, I think I made a good book, but there is more to being successful.

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