Self-Publishing Week Wrap Up

I’m 21, I’m Romanian, and I write fiction. In English. I also self-publish my stories on Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, Kobo, and all other major e-book retailers. Ten years ago this wouldn’t have been possible.

Ten years ago, I would have had to leave my country and work hard to get noticed. To find an agent, to land a book deal. It would have taken me years to find an audience. It still takes years via the traditional route, but now we have an alternative.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that we live in a new world. An interconnected one. And there are plenty of new opportunities, self-publishing being one of them.

But the thing is that a lot of people don’t really understand what self-publishing is all about. I’m sorry to say it, but I’ve seen countless self-publishers furiously trying to sell their books to other self-publishers, I’ve seen self-publishers do nothing to market and promote – they sell 2-3 copies of their book in the first two months, and after that they unpublish it. I’ve read terrible self-published books, I’ve seen self-publishers do grave mistakes with the stories they choose to publish: bad editing, ugly covers, execrable interior formatting.

Basically there’s a lot of crap. Because no one can stop you from publishing crap. And I’m not talking about the writing: this is not the idea.

Maybe the biggest mistake self-publishers make is that they release books before they are ready. You have to do your best, to make your story look as professional as possible. Whether you like it or not, self-publishing is a business. So be professional about the stories you publish – because you’re expecting people to pay for them. If you can’t do your own formatting or covers, pay someone else to do it for you.

Self-publishing isn’t for everyone. There are writers who are great at their craft – but they would fail if they’d self-publish, simply because they weren’t cut out for this. You can learn, from your own mistakes, from reading other self-publisher’s blogs, but, like I said in earlier posts, there’s no recipe, no universal formula. And there will never be one.

What’s maybe ironic is that it’s not the writing that makes the difference. Oh, far from it.

Those who are successful at self-publishing have one thing in common: they love to interact with people. Even though they’re hiding behind a computer screen, they’re out there, blogging, promoting, connecting with readers and other writers. They’re building an audience, they’re always searching for new readers and new ways to reach those readers – they’re always experimenting, trying to find alternatives.

And there’s one more difference: they’re realistic. Set achievable short term goals and crazy, crazy dreams. No one has ever died from dreaming. In small doses, of course.

But don’t expect to win the lottery. Don’t self-publish and expect to become the next Amanda Hocking, or J.A. Konrath, or John Locke. Don’t expect to be selling half a million books in six months and then sell the movie rights to Warner Bros. Actually, never expect any sales. It’s something that you can’t control, unless you buy copies of your own books. Instead, work hard at gaining more and more exposure. How many people have read about your story? How many bloggers have reviewed your book? This is what you should be aiming for.

Self-publishing is for people who are enjoying themselves even when no one seems to be reading what they’re writing. I know it’s difficult, I know how it can ruin your mood when you see those stats on your blog – but remember that it takes time. Years and years before you find your audience. Don’t hold grudges, don’t cry when people give you one star reviews, don’t hate those who are successful.

And be realistic.

Let me tell you a bit about my own plans for this year.

By June 2013 I want:

– to have a pretty cool author platform. A real central hub for me as a writer, as a brand

– for people to say they’ve read Cristian Mihai and loved/hated him without really having to pay one dollar, meaning that I intend on publishing at least 1o-15 free short stories and one novel (more on that in August this year)

– to have one novella (Jazz) and at least one novel available for sale

– to have fun, writing great posts

– to help people – writers, readers, etc

– to earn enough to support myself as a writer (this is the trickiest part)

 

Maybe I’m not the best guy to offer advice on selling stuff. I know that. But I love to write, and what comes second to that is my love to be read. By anyone, by everyone. But I love to write, and I’ll keep writing no matter what. Everything else comes as a bonus.

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58 thoughts on “Self-Publishing Week Wrap Up

  1. This is a great post. I think a lot of people are hearing the EL James story and thinking "I can do that, too!" You have to be realistic when publishing and self-publishing. You write to write, not to make a million dollars. You publish to publish, not to be famous. And, yes, self-publishing is harder because it's totally up to you to market your book. But if you go into it with a good mind (and, yes, TALENT), you may get a few new readers. I wish you luck! You definitely have the talent down.

  2. I've been working in publication design for over 25 years. I am delighted to have subscribed to your blog. I consider this post to be right on target in today's publishing world.

  3. I am a new blogger, and to be honest I started blogging because I love to write and express myself in writing. Unfortuantly I'm becoming concerned with writing what pleases my few followers and not myself, and feel worse if i didnt get a response, which is taking the whole idea for blogging to a narrow and confusing spot.

    Thank you for your post, it made me rethink simple facts.

    • "I love to write and I love to be read." I understand your feeling exactly as you state it. Your will is strong and you'll no doubt achieve your goals. Someday, I hope to achieve what you're striving really hard for. For now, I hope I can give you the happiness of knowing that I follow your blog, I read your posts and I like them :)

  4. This is a very timely post for me, as I'm being encouraged to write a book putting a positive spin on epilepsy and autism – I certainly have enough personal experience with both and have stories to tell! If I can help people to understand that, in spite of some issues, neither condition is a prison sentence and that being autistic can actually be fun, I'm all up for that :)

  5. For such a young man, you are way ahead. I love your posts. I am new to this world of blogs, writing a book and self publishing, but I have learned many things reading your posts! and This one is no exception!

    Thank you Cristian! I wish you all the best!

  6. I've been in the creative business a long time and you make total sense. You can be a Picasso but if you don't get out of your studio no one will ever know you ever existed. The fact that you're still young and understand this is amazing.

  7. I have truly enjoyed reading all of your posts thus far. While, you may not "be the best person to give advice", you are an honest advice giver, and in my mind, that makes you one of the best! :)

  8. I really enjoyed this post. After just deciding earlier today that I was finally going to buckle down and start trying my hand at some legit writing I never considered actually publishing anything. I just felt I wanted to get it out of my system. This self-publishing idea is incredible, and you've giving a solid foundation for how to break into it. I thank you for that sir. *Bows head*

  9. This is one of the first articles I have read about self-publishing that has appeared to me as both encouraging and realistic. I hope to be able to read your advice again closer to when I am ready for the publishing stage, and feel like I actually have a handle on what to do. I look forward to exploring your blog more!

  10. This and the previous post are really inspiring! I'm looking to get into book marketing for a traditional publisher, and I often hear about writers who are reluctant to get involved in marketing and promoting their books. I can sort of understand that it's not what people envision when they think of the "writing life," but it's great to see an author who really embraces that role and is working hard to get his name out there. I can tell you really know your stuff–I admire your hard work!

  11. Excellent post! You definitely have the know-how and skill to successfully self-publish. Thanks for sharing all you've learned!

  12. I will not hate you because you have 3,972 followers…and I only have 20 and you started in April 2012 just like me…I wil not hate I will not hate you…in fact I will LIKE you right now and become follower 3,973…mother effing now I hate myself….:)

  13. Hi — I always like your posts, so full of energy and (to use a going phase around here) "news you can use." I hope lots of would-be authors find your blog and pay attention to your advice. What interested me a lot in this post is the very beginning: ten years ago you would have had to leave your country, now you don't. Follow that thread of thought for us some day, would you please?

  14. Wonderful post. It's not a "don't quit your day job" diatribe, we've all heard those. But it puts keeping your perspective in perspective. In the vein of, that the secret of getting what you want is wanting what's in reach. And don't give up dreaming. I'll be e-publishing my second novel later this week. (Shooting for Dominion Day.) And in the meantime, there's gardening to do, recipes to try and work, waiting on my desk. Nice work if you can get it….

  15. Reblogged this on Thoughts To Ponder and commented:
    This requires a lot of work but the effort is worth it when people read and praise what you've done. As what the author said, "Self-publishing is for people who are enjoying themselves even when no one seems to be reading what they’re writing." Cristian Mihai, you are an inspiration to us all.

  16. This is very helpful. You've opened my eyes to a new world – and now I have those (oh, what are they called?) ideas!

  17. You're right, everything has to be done as professionally as possible if you want people to find your books, and covers are important. If the cover is amateurish, I will assume that the content isn't very professional either.

    I like your covers, especially the one for "Jazz." It has a lot of ambience!

  18. Cristian, this post is superb, and if your story-telling is as good, then I know I am going to love A Sad Sad Symphony. I'm so excited for you and what you are doing. You seem to have a very straight-forward, in it for the joy approach to writing. Love that.

  19. Great post. I've been working in the publishing industry as an editor for 11 years now (scientific publishing) and it's so tough to read most posts about self-publishing. So many self-published authors seem to place quantity and speed ahead of quality. They are all too eager to throw their books to the market without copy editing, proof reading or even basic spell checking. They downplay the value of an experienced editor, marketing department and sales team, saying that they (one person!) can accomplish just as much as a team of professionals. Your take on the self-publishing is far more realistic. Judging from the quality of your writing and your tempered approach, I think you'll do well as a self-published author. Good luck!

  20. I am excited to read some of your work after stumbling upon this. I think one of the greatest challenges in this extremely interconnected world is finding something meaningful to read. Now there is just so much available via the web that it's a struggle to sort through it all and find what you want.

  21. I'm impressed with your insight and tenacity, Christian. I know NOTHING about fiction publishing. But I have been self-publishing textbooks for many years now to avoid the folks in the publishing industry. Good luck!

  22. You are awesome! Reading this post has made me believe that I can actually self-publish. I've been wanting too, but it doesn't seem like an achievable goal. Here you've given a way to make it seem achievable. So thank you so much!

  23. Pingback: Writing and Publishing | booksfromthelaundryroom

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