Self-Publishing Journey: Week 9

Wrap Up to the Series

Well, it is tempting to feel that this whole series was a massive waste of time. It certainly didn’t generate the kind of conversations I had hoped it would. For better or for worse, I still accomplished my own goal of thinking through the last three years of our journey here at Serenity Mountain Publishing and setting our sites on the next few years.

Looking at the Week 1 post, there are a few areas I have not touched on yet that can be easily and quickly covered.

Bookstores/Consignments: Most huge chain stores (Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million) will not touch self-published books. Unless you are really far down the road and seeing huge success, don’t waste your time. There is an application process, and you may wait a year for an answer. Make sure you are offering them a product they are confident they can sell. Sadly, the same lack of interest is pretty true of independent bookstores. They will probably only take your book on consignment, and the few that we tried ended up costing us money, even though some books did sell. There are usually set-up fees. You’ll be lucky to break even. The big exception to this is if you have a personal connection to a bookstore in your town or general area. Then you may find great support and can have a book event and may get your book featured face out (as opposed to spine out among the hordes on the shelves) as a featured local author. If you can pull that off, absolutely go for it. Otherwise, don’t spend lots of time courting bookstores.

Contests/Awards: This can be a very long conversation, but the main thought is that you want to be sure the contest is of some value and will look impressive on the cover of your book. I try to limit my attention to contests with entry fees under $100. There are lots of them. The Writer’s Digest annual contest for self-published and indie-published books offers feedback, and that’s great to have (even though I thought they nick-picked on odd things). Do awards on the cover matter? Would it matter to you if you were going to buy a book by an author you had never heard of? Keep that in mind when you decide to enter a contest. Do you stand a chance of winning? Don’t throw away entry fees. I KNOW that the awards on my book covers have helps make sales, especially the Mom’s Choice Award. That one is nice because it’s not really a contest where you are up against other books. You simply have to meet their standards to earn the honor of putting the award on your book. But I tell you, those entry fees and licensing fees cost a pretty penny, so don’t enter if you don’t think you can earn it. Research the contest. Does it look impressive? Is the cost fair? Make your calls from there.

Write a series for the biggest bang: It is a mantra you will see in every book about self-publishing out there (and hear from traditional publishers as well) – writing a series is the best way to earn a loyal fan base and make money. Even if you don’t write a series, you are going to have to write more than one book. I don’t even care about the genre thing. Just write and publish, and then do it again. By the end of 2016, I will have 6 children’s middle grade science fiction/fantasy books self-published and one adult paranormal/spiritual book plus a non-fiction children’s biography of Betty White published by an indie publisher. I have some picture books I need to send out too. I think being all over the place is fine, just write! Worry about the story and what you have to say, then get it on paper.

And that’s all I have to say about self-publishing. I’m sure there will be more here and there along the way, but that wraps up this series.

Now I’m on to more writing on “Slinky Steps Out” and editing for Pen-L and paperback and ebook proofs for “Max’s Wild Night” and spring break (well, at least the alarm clock won’t go off) in the week ahead.

Happy Spring, Y’all!