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My Self-Publishing Journey

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Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

Hi. Today, I’m going to just talk a little bit about the history of how I got involved in self-publishing, because I think it’s important to know where I’m coming from so that you can evaluate what I’m saying in that light.

When I started writing my first novel, the thought of self-publishing was pretty much ludicrous to me because it involved so much work. Authors have been self-publishing for much longer than the existence of the Kindle or Amazon. The big problem was, of course, distribution and marketing. Especially distribution.

And, just so you know, I had signed with a small press before I self-published. But it was a small press that went out of business nine months after my first novel came out. So I was unable to sell that series, the Sam McRae mystery series, which includes four books, at the time of this writing. Anyway, I was just so frustrated because that first book had gotten such nice reviews from people while it was out, but I didn’t have huge sales and I couldn’t sell a series that was not famous to a big publisher or any publisher, really, even a small one, because I was interested in small presses. I still am. I think that they’re great. They probably do more for their authors than most big publishers, because big publishers are focusing on the big names.

I won’t go into all of that because there’s a lot to go into there, and there are other authors who can bitch and moan and tell you all about that, like I used to. The bottom line is I self-published simply because I had a finished novel and I wanted to get the work out there. I wanted it to be seen, and I wanted to see if people liked it. And if maybe I could generate some interest from a publisher because of this, or an agent or somebody. Well, I have to tell you that the result was astonishing. And when I started off, I was charging $1.59 for my books because it was less than $1.99, which was the going price at that time. I figured no one knew me, so I had zero name recognition. Why not charge a bit less for my books as an incentive?

And they sold okay, but not great. So I lowered the price to 99 cents and my sales went up hugely in volume. And this was back in 2009, 2010. So it was a while ago and people were just getting into this whole self-publishing thing. And you had all this flack being given to us by some traditional authors. Not all. Some were just so dismissive of what we were doing, as if we were like crazy to be doing this. And it’s like, no, you don’t get it. This is the future, guys. Get used to it.

So I kept my prices really low and, and sometimes I would experiment and raise them and I would notice that my sales would drop and that I was making less at $2.99 with a 70% royalty than I was making at 99 cents with a 35% royalty. So that’s what was going on in 2010. And in 2011.

Now, somewhere in there, Barnes & Noble came up with Nook. Nook was important to me because it provided yet another way for people to get my books. And it also supported a bookstore, Barnes & Noble, at that time. They have, of course, divested their interest in Nook, whatever. There’s some kind of thing there. Anyway, the point being that without both Amazon and Nook and, I might add Smashwords, I would never have made the New York Times ebook bestseller list. It would not have happened. And that is why I’m so big on non-exclusivity. Well, there are other reasons that I’ll discuss later.

None of my “success” would have happened without Nook. (Yes, I’m putting success in quotes, because it was fleeting. More to come on that!) Amazon, of course, was huge because, of course, Amazon was the first and the most deeply entrenched and encompassing of the market. Everybody always asks me, “Is your book up on Amazon?” When I tell them I have a book? Oh, yeah, it’s up on Amazon. It’s up on Amazon and all sorts of other places, if you care to look. And I won’t go into Kobo yet, I’ll wait for later on that.

But I will just say that without Nook, I would not have made the New York Times ebook bestseller list. Period. So thank you, Amazon. And thank you, Nook. But when it came to my marketing, I had so much going right, and so much going wrong, and that’s what I’m going to cover next. What I did right. What I did wrong. And the result. The result is what really hits home, I think for me, anyway. Thanks for listening. And I’ll talk to you later.

PS: Just as an aside, I searched my name and came up with this list of almost all my books! Thank you, Books in Series Order. However, I should note that none of my books are out in hardback. Some of them aren’t even out in print. Which is a situation I’d like to change someday.

Oh, and my books are sold through Wal-Mart, too! 🙂

But wait! There’s more. I found my own website and two or three of my dead blogs on the Wayback Machine, aka the Internet Archive! 🙂

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Whomp! There it is.

I have no idea how flirtnetwork.net got in there. Really!

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New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including the Sam McRae Mystery series. Screenwriter, podcaster, and blogger. My website: www.debbimack.com.

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