Yep, for those who have missed out on this very important update: the writer of this blog post, A.K.A. me, has written not one but two books! Although they are poetry anthologies, the process of writing and self-publishing my books was an extremely lengthy process. If you haven’t read my books yet, you can find them here!
Having no ties to any published writer previously, nor having any in-depth knowledge on how to go about the publishing process was incredibly tough for me. Some factors, in particular, were a lot more difficult to navigate than the others. Frankly, I wish someone had been around to advise me on what I should or shouldn’t do, or know, to publish my book and ensure that it reaches people.
Take it from a newbie at this whole publishing books thing, while it isn’t a guarantee that knowing someone in the field can help you sell your books better, it definitely gives you an edge over those who do not have the necessary connections. For those who don’t, well, that’s what I am writing this post for.
Here are a few things I wish someone had told me before publishing my books, and I hope it helps you make wise decisions, should you want to publish your books someday too!
1. Research, research, and research to find the right publishing house!
Out of the biggest regrets I have during the whole process of publishing my books, I truly wish someone had told me that I had to pick my publishing house wisely. It remains the biggest mistake I made during the process, and it definitely made the publishing journey a lot harder than it should have been.
Not only were the consultants I had been assigned extremely negligent and unresponsive, it almost felt as though none of them wished to work on my books with me, which is odd because it’s their job that I am paying them to do. My first book was delayed by six whole months, the unedited and unapproved draft was uploaded and published before I even had a chance to check it, and I still haven’t been given my royalty report, or been paid for the books that I sold during the time, yet.
I wish someone had told me that there were better options, and that I could’ve picked a better publishing house. Or, simply that I had done a little more research.
2. Price your book right!
In other words, value your art, even if you think you’re being unreasonable with the price. I assure you that you are not. Nobody told me that I should have priced my books better, but this is one thing nobody had to because I stood my ground regarding the price.
This is why it’s important: you’re not just putting a value on the number of pages in your book. You’re putting a value on every little detail that you’ve cared to put in, and while that may be priceless, you’re also trying to make it accessible to people. You shouldn’t have to earn pennies from your book.
Consult as many people as possible about the royalties you’ll receive and what your cut is going to be, after all the cost is calculated. I didn’t have anyone I could ask regarding this, and it put me at a great disadvantage because I am yet to be given an idea of how much my books have made. I wish someone had told me these things before I picked a publisher and discussed the cost of my book with them.
3. Do NOT rely on your friends and acquaintances to spread the word. Do it yourself!
Now, while this may come off as me being a little bitter about the whole thing, I want to warn you all that you should never place all your eggs in one basket. Don’t expect that once your books are out, your friends and acquaintances will support you and spread the word about your book. I can assure that it does not happen. I wish someone had told me that my acquaintances, no matter how much I celebrate them, are not going to help me in this journey.
Save a handful of genuinely supportive people, nobody is going to move a muscle except for giving you a thumbs-up emoji and muttering some half-hearted congratulations. They are not going to buy your books. They are not going to leave you reviews. They are not going to help you in any way that actually helps because it simply doesn’t serve their purpose. Hurts like hell, but this is something I have experienced firsthand, and I hope someone had told me that the very people I turned to for the most important part of my journey would turn their backs on me.
How to fix this? You endorse your own book.
4. Endorse the hell out of your book and keep at it!
Make an insane amount of content to endorse your book. You write about it, give people sneak-peeks, do live readings, share any and every milestone that the book has reached, and you do it all over again. Your goal is to write a book that will speak for itself, but it won’t do so unless you have spoken for it.
Find out what the best way to reach people who would like to read your book is, and make a lot of good content to keep them interested in your book! If this is going to be your first book, then you need to know that people don’t know who you are and why they should invest their time and money in your book. Give them good reasons to do so.
It doesn’t even have to be some extravagantly expensive process to promote your books; just some well-researched strategy. I had no one to tell me how to go about it, and I had to do it all by myself, with less than 10 people who actually helped spread the word about my books, and the result was a disaster. I wish I had been advised better on this.
5. Never second-guess yourself.
Not to be that person here, but there are a lot of actual, published writers out there who have written stuff that is a lot worse than yours. You’re a much better writer than you think, and you don’t have to be all technical about it. Don’t second-guess your talent or your skills as a writer.
You’re probably doing a lot better than you think and you won’t even know it unless you actually see your work in print. Nobody told me that all I had to do was to put my writing out there and take a chance with it (calculating the risk, of course). I kept putting off on publishing my books for the longest time because I never felt like my writing was good enough, until lately.
Try to read your work from an outsider’s perspective, and if you like what you’ve written at the end of it, I say you go ahead and put your work out there. Although you need to do a lot more research to actually publish your book, you also need to actually like your work to do so.
- Know who your target audience is going to be. Publishing a book is a tricky process if you don’t know the right people who might be interested in your work. One of the biggest mistakes I made in my publishing journey was to market my books to the wrong audience, who were neither interested nor happy about my books being out there, which sort of beats the point of actually publishing a book. Build connections and market your book to those who will be interested.
- Always, always talk to your publisher about international and in-store distribution. This is something I terribly wish I knew because only the e-book version of my books are available to the international audience, and the physical copy is only available on Amazon India. I wish I had been advised to do better here.
This is pretty much what I wish I had known before I went ahead and published my two books. I still have plenty of hope for them, but it is a little hurtful that they weren’t shown the amount of support that they should’ve been, given that they were my first step in my literary journey. I cannot always expect people close to me to help me out, so I’ve had to carry a big bulk of that responsibilty on my own. Although I have no regrets that my books are out there, I do wish that I had had an easier journey along the way.
I hope this helps you if you’re planning on publishing a book soon!
Happy writing! Xx