By the spring of 2019, I had received 17 rejections from the publishing industry. No literary agent wanted to consider my work, or me. I kept hearing, “It’s not the right fit.”
Although this particular outcome wasn’t too surprising, as I’ve heard all about how tough the publishing industry can be, I nevertheless felt like my book was ready for publication. I had written about my most valuable life-lessons—covering topics such as being lost, finding meaning and developing myself—and I felt I had accomplished everything that I set out to do. I had told the story of how I used these lessons to overcome depression and heartbreak, and now I want to share it with people in similar situations.
Given these considerations, I’ve now decided to self-publish. This is how I’m going to do it:
Finding a Modern Day Bookpress
After settling with the idea of publishing the book by myself, I started to look for sources that could help me figure out the process. After a bit of research and the use of common sense, I came to an understanding that I had to a) get my book into print, and b) distribute it to potential readers.
Luckily, it didn’t take long before I discovered that Amazon could do both for me. As they have the world’s biggest book-selling platform, I am convinced to publish through their ‘direct publishing service’. This has several benefits.
First of all, they already have a store-front, which means that I don’t have to set up my own online store from scratch. This would be costly and time-consuming. Second, I can easily upload my manuscript and provide the finishing details to get my book right away. As Amazon’s platform have a distribution center that prints on-demand whenever a customer buys the book, they cover both point a) and b) for me. Lastly, creating an account with Amazon is free! They only take a small percentage of the sales + the cost it takes to print it. In order to profit, all I need to do is to set the book’s price a little higher than the printing cost at 2.77 USD.
Now, this isn’t too complicated. The hard part is getting the book in front of an audience and making them interested enough to buy it.
Financing with Kickstarter
After thinking through the publishing process, I decided to create a campaign on Kickstarter. This does three things: 1) It markets the book through a significant event, and creates, if possible, a hype around the book. 2) It gets the book into the hands of the readers as soon as it is completed. 3) It gets the book out on the market, through rewarding those who fund the book with a copy of their choice.
As publishing through Amazon in basically free, what I need to fund is:
- A professional editor.
- The printing and shipping of the first 100 or so books.
- Kickstarter fees.
This campaign runs until the end of May, and if you’re reading this before then, you might still have a chance to support it and secure your copy of the book for a discounted price.
Mastering the Marketing
My marketing arsenal consists of Instagram, Medium, and relevant blogs such as this one.
Through Instagram, I try to post relevant content to the book. I post quotes from it, relevant information and updates on how the writing-process is going. My follower count, however, has made it difficult to reach as many people as I would have liked. There’s a lot of competition on Instagram, and I guess I just haven’t figured out/found my fan base just yet.
On Medium, I write articles on similar topics as the ones I have in my book. I also include direct citations from it from time to time, as to see how it performs in front of an audience. My follower count isn’t too big here either, but I have managed to write a few articles that have gotten a few thousand views. Additionally, I believe that Medium might be the most relevant marketing platform, as writing blogposts is more similar to writing a book than posting content on Instagram.
As for blogs, I try to find the most relevant ones, which posts similar content to what I’m writing about. When I stumbled upon The Independent Publishing Magazine, for instance, I knew that writing an article (the one you’re reading) would be a great fit for me and my book. While the main objective is to describe how one can go about self-publishing process, I also acknowledge that this will serve as useful marketing.
In general, the main objective of marketing is to cultivate a fan base with people who are interested in the same things that I write about. It’s about providing value, and touch their souls with my words. If I can manage that, then hopefully it will lead to some buyers.
While I acknowledge that I haven’t mastered the marketing yet, I know that I get to keep marketing the book for as long as it is for sale. If I’m persistent and keep learning as I go, I will hopefully reach more people, which will eventually lead to more people reading my book in the end.
Publishing through the mainstream industry is hard, but so is self-publishing. While the act of publishing isn’t too difficult, making the work matter is. After all, what’s the point of publishing a book if no one ever reads it? That’s essentially the challenge of self-publishing.
I hope this article have provided you with some insights on how to go about the process. If you decide to self-publish on your own someday, just remember that it is the readers that matter and that your job is to get it into their hands.
My name is Jonas Ressem. I’m 23 and from a small town in the middle of Norway. I’m currently (and probably permanently) exploring life and what it means to be myself. What I learn, I try to discern through words.
In this journey of exploration, I’m primarily influenced by psychology. Other things of influence are philosophy, literature, and history (as well as just about anything I find interesting).
I’m constantly trying to make sense of myself and the world around me. And whenever I want to find out more about something, I write; because to me, writing is a better approach to thinking than just thinking.