When researching the best ways to get Choosing Joy published I first felt like self-publishing via Create Space was the way to go. I liked what I read, the reviews were mostly favorable. I didn’t want to make that decision, though, without thorough research on other options. I spent hours researching various publishing options-Christian, non-Christian. I spoke to a couple of vanity press publishing houses, emailed back and forth with a couple of other publishers, sent my manuscript or pitch to yet a couple of others. Some didn’t “feel” right, some where just plain too expensive (vanity presses), others just sent back a very polite email telling me they could tell I “worked hard, but it wasn’t right for them.” I even sent a few emails to authors whose wisdom I was hoping to glean from. Well, it turns out that publishing houses don’t tend to publish you unless you’ve already been published or have a well-known name amongst the field of choice. So what’s a new author to do? Keep writing and go with your gut. Self-publishing is very marketable right now. On-demand publishing makes incomes of all levels for all types of authors.
We decided that using CreateSpace (this isn’t a commercial for them by the way, it’s just our experience) was the way to go. I LIKE the on-demand publishing option, it saves trees from hanging out in warehouses or my basement getting dusty. I LIKE that I’m in control of publishing dates and timelines. I LIKE that if I chose to I could pay CS for design options or I could do it myself. (I did it myself because I enjoy doing those types of things.) I LIKE that using CS has LOTS of expanded distribution options (meaning my book is available not just on Amazon, but on Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, etc.) in a world wide reach. I LIKE that I didn’t have to pay an enormous amount of money upfront to have my book published or to simply have a recognized publishing house’s name on it (vanity press).
We want Choosing Joy to be a ministry tool. I have made enough to pay back what we spent on marketing, editing costs, etc. Anything above that is extra. I didn’t write it to make money from it. I wrote it because I’ve seen so many women who need to know they aren’t alone in losing a child, who need to know they have a story worth sharing. Any good that comes from the reading of this book is worth it. Jeremy and I went on an extra date this month courtesy of Choosing Joy, because we could. As a family we went to the movies courtesy of Choosing Joy because we could. Both of those things are extras that we don’t normally do. It might be different for someone writing a fiction novel or academic paper…making money might be an objective-if so great! I love the feeling of adding a bit of income to our family’s bank account and treating my family to something extra because of work I’ve done (I haven’t made my own steady income in 12 years), it’s just not my priority with this book. On-demand publishing was perfect for me…little upfront cost, I was my own boss, able to work on a time that suited me and my family, and I could be in control of the style and design.
With self-publishing, though, unless you are going to hire a marketing firm guess where the burden falls? On you. And your husband and your parents. And if you bride them, your kids. Again, though. I love doing marketing stuff. Love it. So while marketing keeps me busy, it’s truly something I enjoy doing. I’m no where near an expert in this whole book thing yet, but I’ve learned a few things that might be helpful to others in my same shoes.
- Hire an editor. Really. It’s worth the cost. I think I’m pretty decent at grammar and spelling, but having another set of experienced eyes look at your work will go a along way. My editor found some spelling errors, had suggestions on word changes that made a big difference, gave some encouragement where needed and correction where needed. It was worth every penny spent. My editor is Joy at Inkstained Editing.
- Social media blitz-It’s free marketing! There are likely not too many authors who don’t have a social media profile somewhere online. Facebook friends and family shared my book info much more than I could have. Set up a page for your blog or book, build excitement by placing a countdown to the publishing date, Twitter it, post the link to buy it, blow up your spouse’s Facebook wall with information about it, put it on Linkedin, Pinterest, ask friends to post reviews on it, send an email blitz to everyone on your contact list. Add a blurb at the bottom of your email’s permanent signature, so that for every email you send the recipient sees info about the book.Network, network, network. Use hashtags on Twitter to connect with other like-minded accounts. Follow and be active with other accounts that are pertinent to your book topic.
- Foot work–Talk to people, hang flyers around town, contact local bookstores, set up tables at local conferences (I spoke at a ladies retreat this weekend and was able to set up a table and talk my book up a little), contact the local libraries, send marketing information to local businesses, churches, organizations that are pertinent to your book’s topic. Giving away some copies will go far in spreading the message of your book by word of mouth.
- Throw a book release party-Not only is this exciting and celebratory for you, it also builds excitement about the book. Excitement breeds excitement.
- Marketing-Unless you have a home printer and time and ink to print mass amounts of flyers, postcards, notes, etc. hire a printer to do it. You may have a local printer who will give you a good deal, but taking advantage on online deals might be more cost-effective. I have used a couple of online printers for things like Christmas cards, business cards, etc. but I discovered GotPrint a few months ago and am entirely happy with them. I highly recommend them. Below are pictures of (left) the postcard and bookmark (right) I designed and ordered from GotPrint. I ordered 500 postcards for under $25.00 plus shipping and 1000 bookmarks for about the same cost, plus shipping and on recycled paper (bonus in my book)
We spent about $500.00 over the course of 6 months on getting Choosing Joy edited, published and marketed and have since been able to repay ourselves. Good marketing can be done well and inexpensively. Choose wisely, do what you can afford and work hard. It will pay off.
I’d love to hear some other ideas of what you’ve done for self-publishing marketing! Leave a comment and share!