Self-publishing a book has been an interesting experience for me all around.
And by interesting, I mean a nerve-wracking, panic-attack inducing, keeping-me-up-at-night-in-fear-of-it-failing ordeal.
I decided to self-publish Beyond the Palace because nothing was happening with it and friends and family were nagging me to do it. I’d written literally hundreds of query letters to agents and never even got an agent to read it. I’d heard that for every twelve letters you send out, you’ll usually get one hit. By that logic, I should have dozens of agents beating down my door. Maybe I suck at query letters. Or maybe the publishing industry is a front for a massive drug ring and I’m the only one who didn’t get the memo that agents don’t actually read books. I’m not sure which it is.
So after a couple years of nothing happening, I did my research and decided on amazon.com’s self-publishing options.
And call me naïve if you will, but I secretly thought it would be an overnight sensation.
Not because I believe in myself, but because I actually thought people I knew would rush to buy the book.
I learned the hard way that that just wasn’t going to happen.
That’s right. If you’re reading this and haven’t bought my book yet, you’re a terrible friend/coworker/student/total stranger, etc. In fact, if you're a frequent reader and you're not supporting me by getting my book, you’re practically stealing from me.
I thought that my coworkers would want to read it. Well, okay, not all of them, but I figured that English teachers at least must LOVE to read.
Apparently that’s not the case.
And I was positive that every student I’d ever taught would buy it.
Not because I instilled them all with a deep love of reading, but because I figured they would all want to see if I wrote a sex scene.
Several of them flipped through it LOOKING for a sex scene. But when they realized that there were no pictures and that my writing style wouldn’t double for a letter to Penthouse (are those actually real?), they lost interest quickly. Although if I drew a pair of boobs in the margin, I’d probably have had a much wider teenage audience.
And I figured that my friends who had read it in a rough draft in a binder would all buy it, because that was the deal I made with them when I let them read it in a binder.
The first day, I sold eight copies. I have over four hundred Facebook friends, not even counting family, school friends, etc. who AREN’T on my Facebook page. Eight copies.
To say I was devastated would be like saying I’m a LITTLE excited when I’m at a Bruce show. Or that Lady Gaga is slightly odd.
My parents tried to comfort me by saying that if I sold eight copies a day for the rest of my life, I’d be a millionaire.
Good thing they’re not math teachers. Eight copies sold gives me about $25. At that rate, they're right. I WOULD be a millionaire. It would just take approximately 110 years. Of course, I'd still only be in my late twenties in 110 years, because I will NEVER be turning 30. But that's an awful long time to wait.
So I began nagging everyone to buy it. Which annoyed the crap out of everyone who knows me, but helped sales somewhat. And I ventured into the world of Facebook advertising.
Sales are better now, but I’m still spending more money on ads than I’m making off the book. But I’ve started to pick up fans on Facebook who I don’t know, meaning that people other than the people who I’m forcing to buy the book are reading it.
The problem is that because I self-published it, I can check my sales in real time online. Which means that I no longer have a life, I just sit in front of my computer waiting for the next copy to sell. And when I absolutely HAVE to leave the house, like to walk Rosie or go to work, I check the sales from my phone. I’m driving myself, and everyone else I know, completely insane.
I figured out why it’s so scary though: before I self-published it, I wasn’t succeeding because the book wasn’t out there yet. Now, if I fail, it’s because I’m just not good enough. And when I might not be good enough at the one thing that I want to spend the rest of my life doing, that’s a REALLY scary concept.
Luckily, people seem to be loving the book. My lowest review on amazon.com is three stars, and all of the others are four and five star reviews (at least half of which were written by people I don’t know and didn’t force to write reviews, which is encouraging).
So if you haven’t bought my book yet, check it out. You’ll probably like it and it’ll keep my future therapy bills lower. And if you HAVE already bought it, you’re awesome. Thank you. Now go tell all your friends to buy it too.
And whatever you do, don’t leave me a negative review. Because I plan to take a cue from Jay and Silent Bob and go after anyone who does that.
Literally. I have the song that played during that part on my iPod, ready to go. It’s called “Kick Some Ass” by Stroke 9. I’m not kidding.
Ooh, someone just bought a copy! Yay! Thank you, whoever you are.