The “tea” you need before you self-publish online

A few months ago, I made a big decision to self-publish a short novel on Okadabooks and Amazon (kindle). It was not the first time I self-published a book online, but it was the first time I self-published for a fee. It was absolutely nothing like I expected it to be, neither was it like self-publishing for free. I learnt so much from this experience and decided to write this article to save potential self-publishing writers from unnecessary heartaches.

Disclaimer: Self-publishing is just like any other online business. This article does not only apply to self-published books but can also apply to doing online business, blogging, creating YouTube contents and so on.

So here are the 5 things I wish I knew before I self-published online:

  1. Unless you’re a celebrity, prepare for some disappointment

Before I go into details about this, I want to clarify that the disappointment could be different for everybody. What is disappointing for one person can be a blessing to another person. One man’s food is another man’s poison.

Anyways, as a self-published writer, especially a first-time writer, you’re bound to experience some disappointment. Not everybody you care about is going to support you. Not everybody is going to like your content. Don’t put too much expectations on your family and friends. People will only support you when they feel like supporting you. You might experience disappointment early on or months later, and in this moment, you will probably wonder where everybody in your life has disappeared to. You will also wonder why nobody is buying your content anymore and why it isn’t selling as well as you thought it would, even if you publish a 5-star content.
Don’t fret about it. Disappointments are normal on the journey to success. Don’t let it stop you from selling your story or publishing more stories. Success is all about consistency not perfection.

  1. Marketing is the only way you can get your audience

If there is anything you really need to take away from this article, it is this point. As a writer, you can never avoid marketing. Every marketing endeavour brings you closer to a larger audience. Success doesn’t come by magic. Yes, we all wish we could just post our content once and have everything fall in place immediately, then we automatically become a New York Times Bestseller.

Unfortunately, even Stephen King did not get this lucky.

Especially if you do not have an agent, you have to do the bulk of the marketing yourself. You need to advertise your book as much as you can, even if it means doing it every day. With marketing, I can assure you that there will come a time when you feel like a nuisance. But when it comes to success, feelings need to be pushed aside. If you really want to sell your book well, make noise. And if your voice is not loud enough, pick up a megaphone until somebody buys that book.

Another thing you need to be aware of is that marketing can come in various ways besides advertising your book on your social media page. You can also collaborate with bloggers, create an author website, get involved in podcasts, pay for promotion on the site you are publishing your book, join book contests and so on. Be very open minded when it comes to marketing.

  1. You pay to get success

Quick note: Paying for success is different from buying success. What I mean by this is that most times, when you want to market and advertise your book, you pay for promotion. Nothing is free in this life, not even water. And as I stated earlier, one of the ways you can sell your book well is by marketing, and marketing comes with money. If you don’t have enough money to pay for marketing, you can simply just reach out to people yourself.

The point here is; most books don’t sell well if you do not market them well enough. And every good marketing scheme comes with money.

  1. Pride takes you nowhere

If you want something, you’ve got to ask for it. If you want people to buy your book, ask for it. If you want people to review your book, ask for it. If you want people to share or advertise your book, ask for it. You can also reach out to people one-on-one if they are not paying attention to your public posts. I promise you; you will see a difference in your sales when you set your pride aside.

One of my biggest takeaways from setting my pride aside has been support. I am not talking about the support I receive; I am talking about the ones I give. Support your friends and families with their books, businesses, blogs, music, YouTube channel and so on, and slowly watch how the blessing will come back to you. When I was desperate for people to show support for my short story, I noticed that it was the ones that I had supported in the past that gave me the biggest support for my book when I needed it.

  1. Your goals are your biggest motivators

Have a REALISTIC short-term goal and a FANTASIZED long-term goal. For example, when I self-published my short novel, my short-term goal was to sell 50 copies in the first two or three months and buy myself a handbag when I succeed. Did I succeed? No. But did I get close enough? Heck yes, and I still bought myself that handbag. Because of how realistic my goal was, it motivated me to finish writing the book before publishing it and it also motivated me to keep advertising it on my social media platforms until I was content enough to take a break. And of course, many of you will have bigger short-term goals than mine, but what matters is that your goals should keep you motivated.

For long-term goals, having both realistic and fantasized goals make the journey sweeter. Do you see your story being published into a hard copy one day? Do you dream of making it to the New York Times Bestsellers? Do you dream of signing a movie deal with Netflix for your novel one day? Do you imagine Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie holding your book in her hand one day? Fantasies fuel the dreamer’s dream. Sometimes these fantasies can be visions too. Like a wise man once said, ‘You become great in your mind before you become great on the stage.’

To wrap this last point up, there is one important thing that does the trick: reward yourself for every little win. Have fun with your little successes. Don’t be too hard on yourself because this is just the first step to your writing journey. What matters is that you have finished your story and you should be proud of that win and celebrate it. Not everyone is brave enough to do what you just did. Writing a book is a big deal and it is an exciting journey too. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

So, to the future writers out there, happy writing, and congratulations on becoming the author of your dreams!

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