Updated: Feb 19, 2021
Hi Readers, February 10th was the 6 month anniversary of publishing my first book! I can’t believe it’s already been 6 months since I published The Long Shadow on the Stage. In this blog post, I’m sharing a few of the things I wish I had done differently while self-publishing my first book. I’ve learned a lot since then and there are certain things I plan on doing differently with my second book and any other future books.
1) Don’t hire a book tour company.
I spent around $150 hiring a “book tour company” to help promote my book. I was promised multiple book reviews and promotions during release week, which I expected to receive since I was paying for their services. Although I did receive a few book reviews, I didn’t receive all the reviews and promotions that were promised. Some of the reviews were only posted on Twitter (which I’m not active on) or the book reviewer’s blog, which doesn’t do much to help me. I would have much rather had all reviews posted on Goodreads and at least one book retailer’s website. Most of the book reviewers didn’t have many followers, which was also a disappointment because it meant their reviews weren’t reaching a large audience. In addition, several of the reviews were posted after release week, which defeated the purpose of trying to build hype around the book. For my second book, I’m handling all the marketing and promoting myself. I would highly recommend NOT hiring a book tour company if you’re an indie author. In my experience, it wasn’t worth the money.
*Note: this is nothing against the reviewers. I’m still in contact with several of them on social media and was thrilled they enjoyed my book and were willing to help support me!
2) Don’t spend money on ads immediately.
I spent money on Facebook and Instagram ads leading up to the book release, which ultimately didn’t lead to any sales. After the book was released, I tried using Amazon ads, which were also unsuccessful, although I plan on trying Amazon ads again. After researching and learning more about ads, I think I could have more success with them now. It’s better to wait until your book is making money before you start paying for ads. Free promotion is key!
3) Grow your mailing list before publishing.
I did start a mailing list about 6 months before my first book was published, but wasn’t able to grow it as much as I would have liked before the book was released. In retrospect, I would have used StoryOrigin from the beginning, which has been a great help in connecting with other authors and finding new readers.
4) Contact 100+ ARC reviewers.
Initially, I contacted 42 book reviewers/bloggers and offered to send an eBook ARC of my book. Of those 42 people, 12 agreed to read and review it, while only 3 people ever posted a review. This situation made me realize I should have contacted at least 100 book reviewers before the book release and tried to ensure there would be a minimum of 20 reviewers reading it. I contacted more book reviewers/bloggers several weeks after the book released and was able to get 4 more reviews.
5) Connect with other writers.
I had connected with a few writers on Instagram before publishing my first book, but no one that I felt comfortable asking for favors, such as helping me promote my book. For my second book, I want to get other indie authors involved in the book release by interviewing them about their own books, writing process, etc.
As an indie author, I think it’s important for all of us to share our experiences with self-publishing and be open about what works (and doesn’t work) for our books. I would love if I could help other indie authors avoid making the same mistakes I made during my first book release! As always, feel free to comment below or message me if you have any questions.