8 Things I Learned Self-Publishing My First Book

1. Self-Publishing is Not What it Used To Be

Since the launch of the Kindle and Amazon KDP in 2007, the self-publishing world has changed drastically. Until this point, if you wanted to sell your book you had to use a vanity press and then try to sell your book to friends, family, and independent bookstores. In the 1990s writers gained the ability to print on demand, but there was still a limited audience to sell to and a stigma hanging over self-publishing. I was still under the influence of this stigma until pretty recently in the game. I even had an agent picked out that would be my top query when I was finished writing my first book, because I thought that I would need a publisher to be successful. That is so not the case. Though there are certainly self-published books out there lacking in quality, people are actively choosing to forgo the traditional publishing process in favour of the DIY novel. Better royalties, more room for creativity, and a hands-on marketing experience make self-publishing an attractive way to get your words out to the world.

2. The Indie Author Community is Strong

There are a mind-blowing amount of resources out there for independent authors such as message boards, blog posts, articles, and even free ebooks. If you have a question, it has most likely been answered somewhere online. I say this without any snark: if you have a question, Google it. If you can’t find your answer on Google, log on to a message board, like the Writers’ Cafe of Kboards, and ask. I was blown away when I first discovered just how many resources were right at my fingertips. I fell into a deep information hole and didn’t resurface again for many hours—and it was awesome.

3. There’s so Much More to Writing a Book than Just Writing

home-office-336378_1920So your book is written, maybe even edited. That means you’re basically done now, right? No. Formatting, marketing, getting a cover… There are a lot of things to consider. Marketing is a big one, and a job that’s never really finished. I’m incredibly lucky that my business partner does graphic design, editing, and has a solid knowledge of marketing. I did know going into self-publishing that I was going to have to do all of these things. That’s why we partnered up in the first place. What I didn’t know was how hands on a lot of this stuff would be. And it takes time. That being said…

4. You Always Need to Plan Ahead

Considering how many things you have to think about when self-publishing, it’s a good idea to map out your publishing goals on a calendar and set realistic deadlines for the completion of any hired work. Reviews, in particular, take some time. I have a lot of respect for book bloggers, most of whom review books completely pro bono. The thing with that is it takes some time. So, if you want to have a few reviews by your release date, that could mean holding your book back a few weeks after completion.

5. Your Friends and Family Will Not Read Your Book

They might say they will, but they’re a bunch of filthy liars, and it’s not their fault. Maybe they’re not avaricious readers. Maybe your book isn’t within their preferred genres. Maybe they just don’t have the time. Whatever the case, if you’re planning on relying on their input—don’t. There are beta reader communities all over the internet who will read your book and give you their input instead—many of whom will even read portions of your book if you’re not finished yet. And, since you can find one who actually enjoys your genre, you’ll get a better idea of how it will be received.

6. Watching Your Kindle Sales Like a Hawk Will Not Make People Buy Your Book


I have a tendency to get obsessed with analytical data like sales and impressions and all that good stuff. For the first few days after we published To Trust a Wolf, I parked in front of my computer and refreshed the KDP page over and over, waiting for the spike in sales that I knew had to be just around the river bend. This was not a productive way to spend my time. If at all possible, try not to focus on sales—focus on marketing and writing your next book.

7. There Will Always be Worse Books than Yours that Sell Better

If you can’t find a worse book than yours on Amazon that’s selling like hotcakes, then writing might not be your gig, because there are tons. It can be a frustrating thing when your book isn’t selling, but at the top of the Amazon Bestsellers list sits a novel that you suspect was written by an anteater with a typewriter. Though a sight like that sometimes makes me grit my teeth, I also try to look at it as a promising sign that there’s a whole host of people out there who are almost guaranteed to like my book. Now it’s just about getting it to them. Challenge accepted.

8. Success is not linear

arrow-644455_1280This is something that applies in all aspects of life. It’s a little bit cliché, sure, but it’s important to remember that there are always going to be ups and downs. One bad day does not define your year. Just do your best and the rest will follow.



— Danielle

Got your own self-publishing tips to add? Post them below!

5 thoughts on “8 Things I Learned Self-Publishing My First Book

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this! And I agree, there is always going to be a worse book selling like crazy. I used to write on Wattpad, and so many badly written books (bad grammar, horrible character development and full of cliches) got 100K-1M reads. At first, it shocked me, but now I’m used to it.


      1. Well, it makes more disappointed in myself than mad. Seeing those poorly written stories get so many reads makes me wonder why I keep writing.


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