What I Learned When I Self-Published My Book

man's hand perched ready to type on notebook computer keyboard on conference table in Seattle office after work hours, with b
man's hand perched ready to type on notebook computer keyboard on conference table in Seattle office after work hours, with blue toned glow

I had written my first book, Traveling Daisy: A Generational Cancer Book of Disease and Dysfunction, for over four years. I kept editing, rewriting and reading it and analyzing every word that I wrote. I knew it would never be perfect but I felt it was good enough, so I was ready to publish it. I had sent out a few dozen query letters and even had one publisher read a whole chapter but no one bit. So I had a few smart and studious friends edit the book for me and I decided to learn everything there was to know about self-publishing.

First thing I discovered was that you don't want to actually print the book. There are endless stories of authors investing small fortunes in soft covered books and having boxes of them in their garage for years to come. Ebooks that are read on Kindle software and sold through Amazon are the cheapest and fastest way to sell electronic books. The Kindle app can be downloaded to any computer, smart phone or iPad. I was clueless about ebooks so I watched webinars, read ebooks, and scoured the web on how to sell and market your book.

I applied for a copyright at copyright.gov and then I set up a KDR (Kindle Direct Publishing) account, which is free and I uploaded the word DOC file of my book. I also bought an ISBN number at isbn.org for identifying purposes. Then I had a full blown panic attack. What was I thinking? Sharing with anyone who cared to spend 99 cents, the intimate thoughts I had during my mom's cancer and my own cancer? I am so spread eagle in my book telling the story of my dysfunctional family that I felt naked. I couldn't breathe.

My whole point of writing, Traveling Daisy, was to help others through cancer. I drank a glass of wine and thought of the people afflicted with cancer that I could share my tips and advice to. I decided not to think of all my family members who might be mad that I told all our secrets, well some secrets anyway. I didn't write my book to make money, only to share how I dealt with being the 5th generation in my family to get cancer, so I donate the proceeds from Amazon to cancer research.

To get the word out on my book, I did a promotion and sent out emails to everyone I have ever met. I needed reviews, so I posted on all social media outlets, including my website, that anyone who bought my book and gave me a review, would be put into a drawing for a Kindle Fire. That idea came from Bart A. Baggett's book, How to Get 63 Authentic Amazon Reviews in 3 Days. After a year of being on Amazon, I'm up to 40 reviews so I didn't achieve those numbers, but I don't have a huge social media presence either.

In hindsight, I wish I had been a little gentler with my words about some of the people in my book. Once the words are out there for the world to see, it's too late to unprint them. I may have lost some friends and some respect, but I release the ties that bind me to other's opinions of me. You have to be thick skinned to be a writer because everyone has an opinion and they're not always nice, just see the reviews of my book for examples. So my tip is to make sure you want the world to see your soul before you expose it for less than a dollar, of course, you can charge more than that.

I just finished my second book, Dating for Dinner, Ordering Love, and I'll do things a little differently this time. I'm not be sending query letters, as it didn't work the first time. I am creating a funny book trailer to post on social media and I'm hiring a photographer to shoot my book cover. Since my book is humorous stories about dating and looking for love in Los Angeles, I also created a fun product that I talk about in my book. I realize that it's hard to market a book, but if you have a product like Fifty Shade of Grey did with the whips, it can drive curious people to read the book.

I wrote about my crazy dates and some of my girlfriend's dates to make people laugh, especially myself, after writing such a heart-wrenching book the first time. I'm not worried that I'm not sticking to the same genre as my first book, because I'm just writing about my truth and everyone's life goes through the good and the bad and the hilarious. I'm just in my funny part right now and that's why I write, to share and inspire laughter. When writing, just remember what you are trying to say and focus being a good, polite person that people want to get to know by reading your book. That's what I try to do anyway.