Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Art of Self Publishing

Hey all! Today I'm over at Sheena's talking about the good and bad about living in South Africa. Hope to see you there! In the meantime, I want to welcome Jamie to The Five Year Project. He's recently self-published a book that promises to be awesome, and has generously offered to share what he's learned about self-publishing. 
Take it away, Jamie!

The art of self publishing, and by art I mean what you get after giving a hundred five-year olds finger paints.

So you’ve written a book, and you’ve decided to publish it yourself. You poor, misguided soul. Don’t worry, I’m just as poor and misguided as you. Luckily I’ve put myself through the wringer and am prepared to share what I’ve learned to help you in your current and/or future projects. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to assume you’re already at the final stage of your project. You’ve already gotten an editor, and your cover design is finalized (or on your way to it) and now you’re unsure about what to do in regards to self publishing. Allow me to help!

Let’s start with the obvious.

It goes without saying that Amazon is the top ebook retailer, and for good reason. With ebooks now outselling physical books for the first time ever, Amazon sits atop the heap for all things relating to the medium. They have a program called KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing) that’s set up to help authors promote their books and garner sales. Through the system, Amazon assists with promotion of your book through email suggestions to Kindle members and it also allows you to set up to 5 days during each 90 day period to give away your book for free. The hitch? While part of the KDP Select program, you can’t be listed through any other ebook retailer.

Now, I opted to sign up for the KDP select program and remain exclusive to them. My book far exceeded my expectation. I would have been happy just selling a couple dozen copies to people that weren’t my friends or family. Instead, the few hundred copies I sold during my 90 day exclusivity period, and the 500 copies given away for free have helped to validate the feeling that I should be writing a heck of a lot more.

Which leads me to the next point: self promotion. Do you use Twitter? Well, now you should. Facebook? Don’t be afraid to pimp out your work to your friends and family. You may be surprised how many people would be willing to shell out a few books just to support, and you may just turn some of the people you already know into your biggest fans. I’m also a big advocate of Google Plus. Contrary to popular belief, that site is NOT a ghost town, and in fact has more active users than Twitter. If you make all of your posts public, it’s effectively a blog. I’ve made many business contacts through Google Plus, and I’m garnering new followers every day. Don’t forget to join Goodreads while you’re at it.

You opted to start with Amazon, but now your sales are dropping and your KDP select
exclusivity is up. What now?

You’ve got options. Lots and lots of options. Start by reviewing to see if that’s something you’d like to consider. Their purpose is to help indie authors publish across many platform and to promote them. I haven’t personally done anything with them, but I’m still considering it. I went with four additional carriers aside from Amazon, and it’s been a...process.

What are the pro’s and cons of each?


I’ve heard that Nook isn’t terribly popular, though it seems to be a decent format. Their process was relatively painless, except when I had to go in and label each of my chapters, one by one. Their self publishing process is supposed to pick out the number of chapters you have and automatically label them, buuuuut it told me I had two chapter. Yep, twenty five chapters distilled into two. I spent the next thirty minutes labelling each chapter. Fun times. Then the book got hung up in “pending” hell for four days until I contacted customer support for them to fix that.


Kobo was even simpler than Amazon for self publishing. I’m not totally sure what Kobo is, but they have their own line of ereaders and I liked their site. However, the book has been available for a week, and I haven’t had a single sale. I have no clue how much traffic books on their site get.

Google Play

Another fairly simple process here, though not as simple as Amazon or Kobo. Aside from Amazon, I think Google Play has the best potential for sales. The Play store keeps showing up on more and more devices, especially as Android continues to expand and tablets continue to fly off the shelves. Though I have no idea how it’s doing, since the site refuses to actually give me my sales numbers, after putting me through a three day ordeal where it kept telling me the book “needed action” on some unknown payment issue. Wrote to them, and still had to figure it out on my own after a vague issue.


Here’s the thing. I’ve never had any love for Apple. I have a thing about my products being worth the price of admission. Prior to a week ago, I hadn’t signed up for an itunes account. Not only was that a process (why the hell should I give them my credit card just to start an account?), but then I had to get approved as a vendor. So a few days pass by, and I get my approval email. I just need to log in and work with the book to publish it. Simple right? So I go to log in. Invalid password. I try a few different variations of my password, until it boots me out and prompts me to reset. Did I mention that this is the SECOND TIME it’s happened in as many days? I threw my arms up in disgust and decided the few meager sales I might get weren’t worth the hassle, because I had no idea what awaited me once I was able to log in.

The conclusion?

I honestly don’t know if going off of the KDP Select program is worth it. Only time will be able to tell there. I don’t have a bright outlook on that. Amazon isn’t helping with promotion anymore, but the sales are still regular on Kindle. I’m hopeful that my own experiences here in self publishing will help you in deciding which way is best for you. Maybe you’ll decide to stick with KDP Select, or maybe you’ll just publish everywhere you possibly can from the get go. Find what works for you, and experiment!

It’s so easy to hate super heroes. They’re arrogant, they’re destructive, and they’re everywhere. Then there’s the spandex. My God…the spandex. Some want to be famous, some want to get rich, and some just want to dispense their own vision of vigilante justice.

Then there’s Dennis. Married forty something father of three who puts in long hours as a bank executive in Philadelphia. He observes these Supers (general term used for humans with exceptional abilities) daily, cursing as they trash the city, demolish landmarks, and wreak havoc on his insurance premiums.

Dennis’ biggest problem though, is that he’s one of them. He’s spent his entire life just trying to be normal. Getting married, raising a family, and having a good job are all he’s ever wanted. Is it really too much to ask to just live, love, and retire in peace?

Of course it is! Supers are easily monetized. Comic books, movie deals, television shows, public appearances, and well paid security gigs draw people with any kind of powers to join the limelight with the rest. Dennis comes to find that no matter how much you deny who you are, the world will never stop spinning, and you will eventually be dragged right along with it. Unfortunately for him, that dragging is bloody, painful, and unrelenting.

Superpowered is a first person fiction narrative from the eyes of a reluctant, power-wielding human being. Focusing not on super heroes or super villains, but instead on people with extraordinary abilities, this book will take you along for Dennis’ tense, thrilling, and gruesome journey through the highs and heartbreaking lows.

Google Play (where it’s discounted right now)


  1. No iTunes account? The horror! Glad your books are there though, because the iBookstore is where I go first to buy my eBooks.
    The Kobo is the eReader from Chapters, Canada's largest book seller. I guess for that you need to market more in Canada, eh?
    Good luck Jamie. Keep writing books. I think that is real secret.

  2. Good post. Enjoyed it.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  3. I have self published two and have just this week started my third. as it is a poetry book I had to wade through poems for my book so am in the very early stages. still it's given me something to aim at in life and am getting quite excited.

  4. I've not sold much through Kobo, but my publisher says most sales through Kobo are from Australia and such, mainly where Amazon doesn't effectively reach.

    Smashwords, I sell a few through them each quarter, but not much, the same with the Nook, but some authors with my publisher do pretty well through them. I think I've sold a total of 3 ebooks through iTunes, and maybe a dozen audiobooks.

    If you can, try to get your novel published as an audiobook. Take a look at I get decent sales of my first novel through, and my 2nd novel is in production.

  5. Glad to hear Kindle Select worked for you. Those are good numbers!

  6. I haven't seen enough sales through other outlets to make me think they're worth it.

  7. Thanks for your insights. I have gone with Smashwords and did do D2D as well, although I hear self-pubbers are out of KOBO and D2D right now, and WHSmiths, because they hadn't fixed any filter for innappropriate content, or something. Great, so selp-pubbers all get removed along with the erotica? *sigh. I'm considering quitting with everything and doing KDP select (I haven't tried that yet( becasue sales haven't been great elsewhere. I certainly wouldn't miss them. I am yet to get my US tax issue sorted too. Terry, I've been thinking of trying the audio book once all the trilogy has been published. ACX looks great. X

  8. With many retailers no longer selling self published ebooks, staying with kdp seems quite attractive.

  9. I can see why people buy this book. The story alone has me putting it on my to buy list for my kindle. Jamie you gave some great tips and I'm glad you have had success.

  10. I don't know much about self-publishing so this was really interesting. I didn't realize you had to go through so much to make your book available on different formats. Thanks for sharing!

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

  11. Enjoyed your journey through self-publishing. Sometimes it seems to easy and it seems like soemtimes people maybe do make it sound too easy! Thanks for the insight!!

  12. Kobo is actually bigger than the Nook - most people don't realize it.

    I'll always be leery of Amazon's Select program because of its exclusitivity. And the free days work best for authors with multiple books, because it drives sales of those other books.

  13. Interesting stuff. It sounds like a lot of hard work, but worth it seeing one's book in print.

  14. Great post on Sheena's blog!
    Jamie, I upload my books to Amazon and Smashwords only. Then Smashwords distributes to everyone else and I don't have to worry about doing Nook, iTunes, Kobo etc and getting income from all those different places :-)

  15. What a lovely blog.

    Found you on Murees' blog.

    Love your design.

    Leaving a link back to my blog.

    Silver's Reviews
    My It's Monday, What Are You Reading


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