A Simple Self-Publishing Story

By KELLY BATTEN

Writers are typically withdrawn and shy, who don’t like social things and the idea of putting themselves out there is like throwing themselves in front of a bus. Or lying down for a herd of buffalo to stampede over. Either of the two. Maybe they’ll take both options when they realise they have to market and promote their self-published book or nothing will happen to it… I know. Shock horror.

I’m barely eighteen and while my teenage stereotype is to be out partying, catching up with friends at every waking moment, doing idiotic things whilst drunk off my face, dating, making fond memories you’re not sure if you’ll regret or not, actually caring about a social life, and living in a whole other world that the rest of the world cannot understand no matter how many books and movies and articles are created about our awesomeness, I am one hundred percent more inclined to hibernate in my room with ten books and read them straight for a week. No problem.

When I was writing my first book, One Day You’ll Find Me, and decided to fulfill my dream and publish it, I was hit with this massive learning curve I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with. I did all this research into publishing and learnt all about that world… I felt so proud that I could create an argument about the benefits for taking the self-publishing route over traditional publishing, and what all those terms meant. Until I was a month off uploading it online and becoming instantly famous world-wide and selling hundreds of thousands of books in the space of a few months… Sigh.

How quickly that fairytale dissipated on me as I was forced to open my eyes and actually create an Online Presence. Yes, that got capitalised because it was something I had been so determined to stay away from. I got a weird sense of accomplishment from being seventeen and not having a single social media account.

Suddenly I was thrust into this Online world like a newborn baby, and I had to scramble around to find out how to deal with all this information. Joining Twitter, I started to build an audience I could eventually launch my book to, on Goodreads, I discovered it was actually a social site for all things books (something I’d previously been completely oblivious to and jumped for joy when I found out. Literally), on Pinterest I found a way to categorize all those images that previously cluttered my desktop, and on Wattpad I discovered a community of stories.

After awhile, I started to find my groove and work out how to use them all. I’m still learning, though. Somedays I feel like it’s all going fine, others I feel like nothing’s working and I’m not doing enough, and yet others I completely abandon all accounts for days on end to return to my hibernating days. That’s when I read articles about self-publishing and marketing and give my system a boost of encouragement that I’m doing the best I can. It’s really nice to read that other people feel like me, or have been me and made it to the ‘other side’.

Most days I have no idea how to reach the small audiences I’ve managed to build to get them to buy my book or read my book or find my book. I’m still too shy for my own good. But one foot in front of the other, right?

I’m writing this because I want to reach people. I want to share my self-publishing journey because one, most authors seem to, and two, because if it somehow helps you, I’ve put a smile on someone’s face. That’s all I want to do in this world, if you want to boil my goals down to something that simple.

Some concrete things I’ve actually learnt along the way:

  • if you haven’t started building an online presence aka a platform, start right now. I wish I’d started earlier, and I’ve already told you I never wanted to start in the first place!
  • you don’t have to be on everything, just pick a few that suit you best and stick with them. Stretching yourself too thin just wears you down and is more likely to not bring in the results you hope for.
  • remember to be yourself, or the self you want to show the world, and let that shine through in everything you post everywhere, because yes, you want people to buy your book, but you’re a person too. They want to know you, and because they know you and like you, they will buy your book. That’s the plan, anyway…
  • do it right the first time! Don’t waste money by doing it ‘wrong’ and having to go back later and spend more money fixing it. It’s a waste of your time, too, and I’m sure you would rather be doing something else with it. Like actually writing your next book…
  • research, research, research! I very nearly avoided a few disasters by actually doing my research. Don’t just look into something, look into something so well you feel you could argue it from all angles! It’s best to have your bases covered so you have the information you need to make wise decisions.
  • when it comes to ITINs (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number), you simply don’t need the hassle of getting one because you simply don’t need one full stop. EINs (Employer Identification Number) are all you need, and here are two really good links that explain how to go about getting one: http://kerriwilliams-writerofromance.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/how-to-get-ein-number-from-australia-my.html and http://scarletcox.com/2013/11/08/self-publisher-tax-id-needed-but-im-not-a-us-citizen-help/
  • there are thousands of resources for writers out there, for guidance in publishing and marketing and actually writing books, and for discussions about the process and encouragement. So don’t forget to use them to your best advantage!
  • back to stereotypes, try to make sure that everything you put forth in your author campagin creates a persona or ‘brand’ that one, you are happy with personally, and two, if you try to imagine yourself as a random person looking over all your stuff, you are still happy with =)
  • try and keep a balance between everything you do…
  • and when you have account binge moments, there are these wonderful little apps that can spread out your excitement so as not to bombard your audiences all at once and therefore make your effort more effective, as well as other apps that help you enjoy your accounts. Only takes a Google search to find them, and they help so much!

Never stop writing. Someone, somewhere, someday will be touched by your words somehow. You never really know what other people are going through, and your words may be just what they needed in that moment. One of the simplest yet most beautiful things in the world is bringing a smile to another person’s face. So don’t ever give up!

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