Self-Publishing Experience

Hello,

I’ve been a self-published author about 1,5 years and If you need help, you can ask it out (Especially Smashwords).

My book is far from being ready to publish but I’ve already been thinking about self-publishing :slight_smile: Just don’t know how to go about it when the time is right.

It totally depends on your mindset. If you feel ready about every single detail in your story, then just write it out. Find an editor or something after you finish.

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I will definitely make sure I find someone to edit the book. I’m having the first 5 chapters edited at the moment.

It takes time the cover, manuscript, formatting, editing… believe me

You will have to make a lot of decisions.

Format? ebook, paperback (and what size), hardcover, audio. You can do one or multiple.

Distribution? Do you want to be wide (your book is available in many places) or exclusive to one (such as Amazon KDP). With Amazon, if you’re exclusive you then have to decide if you want to enroll in their Select program. Also, what markets do you want to sell in? For example, just in the U.S. or everywhere in the world.

Pricing? You’re the publisher. You choose the price. On Amazon, the price determines your royalty percentage. And if you sell worldwide you need to price it in the local currency and take VAT into consideration in the European countries.

If you only go ebook, formatting is relatively easy. If you go print, it’s more complex. And the cover with a print book is more difficult to do (you need to account for the back cover and spine, and the spine is affected by the number of pages — thickness of book).

Marketing? Someone needs to know your book exists to purchase it. How will you get it in front of them? For me, this is the hardest part about self-publishing (or maybe publishing in general).

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THIS. This was what I struggle with the most. I selfpublished and then I never took the time to market it so obviously it never really went anywhere

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Hi!

What other platforms are available to self-pub onto? I’m currently doing KDP but I don’t want to be exclusive with that. I know BandN, but I was wondering if there were any more that were good?

I don’t have a tonne (or any) money to sink into marketing, so any tips you have on building a fan base are also appreciated.

To successfully market on Amazon, you need 500-1000 followers before you publish. This is because Amazon algorithm prioritize books that get a high number of reviews in the first month. I’ve heard 50, although I’m not sure of the accuracy of this. I understand that only 1% of readers review so to get 50 reviews you need 500 readers in the first month. Figure that not all of your followers will read, which is why I say 1000 followers.
An alternative is to find a book which is similar to your own and target those readers with advertising. If you can’t find a book similar to your own then you’re in a bind. This is why I’ve chosen to publish on Wattpad. It’s doesn’t pay but it’s possible for a book to attract a following without the need to purchase advertising.

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I’ve never heard about this. Amazon is very closed about its algorithms, and I believe most long time writers on the platform believe that reviews have little to no bearing on ranking.

There’s a lot of rumor and myths about a set number of reviews needed to trip the algorithms - I’ve never seen any evidence of this. Sales velocity determines ranking. If you have hundreds of followers buying your book, that will rank it higher and lead to more organic sales. More reviews might convince other readers to pick up your book, starting a virtuous cycle.

“* Amazon is not using the number of reviews and the review score alone to show where products rank. Where the reviews come into play is that it has an impact on conversion rate. A product that is reviewed better and has more reviews is more likely to convert at a higher rate than a product that has fewer reviews. The conversion is what drives the sales velocity. That’s how reviews actually impact the search ranking. The number of reviews alone isn’t a ranking factor.”

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We don’t know exactly how the algorithms work but the scuttlebutt among authors is that you need reviews in the first month of publication. This is why authors are spending money on advertising and are taking part in Amazon’s countdown promotions, giveaways, and in KDP Select. If you are correct that the number of reviews isn’t a factor, then these authors are wasting money on advertising and giveaways.
Thanks for the link. Here’s my understanding of the jargon.
Sale velocity=Competition. Sales in comparison to others with the same keywords/categories.
Conversion=if the customer buys after seeing the product.
The difficulty is that books aren’t actually produced. They aren’t like towels or ink cartridges that have the customer looking for something specific.
If a book is unknown customers aren’t going to put in keywords associated with the book.
We’re back to 2 strategies.

  1. Develop a following outside of Facebook so that these readers will input the specific keywords that lead to the book.
  2. Target advertising to the audience for books similar to your own. The second strategy only works if there are books similar to your own.

That Amazon algorithms are based on competition(sales velocity) explains why Amazon has so copycat books. These copycats may be duplicating similar books–as close as you can get legally–so that they are close to what customers have in mind.
For me, Amazon advertising was an expensive failure. There aren’t enough readers looking for my books or even for books similar to mine. I ended up spending $120 to make one $4.99 sale. In marketing jargon, this very low sales velocity and conversion rates. I have come to the conclusion that Amazon algorithms don’t work well for original fiction. By “original” I mean fiction that has very few comparable titles.
This is why I halted AMS advertising and started publishing on Wattpad. I will only go back to Amazon after I have enough followers to drive sales velocity and conversion.

Here’s my understanding of how Wattpad works.

  1. Use all 25 of the allowed keywords. Climb from less competitive keywords to keywords with more readers.
  2. Post your book one chapter at a time to get more Wattpad eyeballs.
  3. Interact with other authors to find comparable titles.
  4. Engage with others in the Wattpad community.
  5. Once the book has traction with other authors and community readers, it will start showing up to a greater number of readers.
    6)Wattpad readers look for books on Amazon by the same author. This is my goal. If I don’t reach it, I’ll move more of my books to Wattpad. Not making any money is better than losing money. Authors always break even on Wattpad.
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This is the thing that hangs me up the most! Everything else I am confident I can do with enough time and money.

But marketing is an entirely different beast of creativity and intuition. Marketing terrifies me!

On a side note, are there any services/people worth hiring for marketing advice? You dont’ have to know one in particular, but is paying to learn worth it for marketing? (For selling books particulary)

I’m going to concur with Alec on the point of Amazon reviews. In various forms, a rumor keeps popping up that Amazon will promote your book after a certain threshold of reviews. Sometimes the rumor says 50, sometimes 15, sometimes some other number. It’s false.

That said, reviews are essential for shoppers to get a feel for the book, so yes you do need early reviews, but it’s to talk to your potential customers, not to feed algorithms.


I love that slice of wisdom! :heart::heart::heart:

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Don’t pay for advice. I probably can’t mention other social media sites here, but the one that has “face” in it, lol, you should search for “clean indie reads” or “20 books to 50k” and they are gold mines.

Where are you getting the information that number of reviews isn’t a factor in Amazon algorithms? The scuttlebutt has that it is a factor. Saying it isn’t is also rumor unless it’s substantiated.

yep, yep, good point.
Maybe I can post a link.
this should be ok with Wattpad since I’m not promoting anything
:slightly_smiling_face:

I did some searching and found this:
According to this article verified reviews are a factor in sales ranking. But this also gives cover quality as a factor with no explanation of what “cover quality” means.

Ranking is influenced by factors that anyone can look up in Amazon documentation (we will discuss in detail):

  • A product that is priced well in relation to similar products, but that is priced in a way that will turn the best profit in relation to its competitor
  • A product that offers a description that gives bullet points or features that the algorithm will recognize in terms of keyword
  • A strong keyword in the title that will help categorize the product (I suggest a subtitle to deal with this)
  • Sales in each session period, which is 24 hours, compared to others in your category
  • How many times someone clicked on your listing to your product, known as Click Through Rate (CTR)
  • Spelling, grammar, editing, and quality of your interior, and also the quality of the cover
    *** Number of verified reviews, helpful reviews and new reviews –outside of this, unverified reviews do not count towards ranking but do count towards social proof and CTRs (see below)**
  • Product page is complete in all sections and meets Amazon Guidelines on word count, layout, and image size and quality used.
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I don’t know. Marketing is not my thing.

I published one novel under one author name and two novels and a novella under a different author name. For the former, the only marketing I did was to let people on wattpad know of the book (it’s YA). That didn’t generate sales. And the novel, without marketing, is languishing with the millions of others that no one knows exists.

My other pen name is a known commodity in the genre. I built a following owning my own free story site and writing short stories on that site (that’s actually how I got into writing). To show how old that is, the followers are on a Yahoo Group (I tried to get them to switch to Twitter but no one was interested). I have around 2,500 members on that group. When I publish a novel I notify them in that group. Some of them buy. The story site I built is now defunct, but I also post short stories on another free story site. At the end of each story I mention my novels and provide the ASIN to them. I believe that also generates sales. Unlike wattpad, those people are older and have credit cards.

But the problem is, when you make a sale you never know how they found your book. There are no metrics for that. I recently had sales in France for the first time. The first France sale was shortly followed by France sales for my other novels, so I assume the person who bought the first one liked it and bought the others. But I have no idea how they found the first one.

I’ve recently done something else that I noticed in traditionally published books. At the end of the novel, I have a few preview chapters to another novel. It’s especially important for my series. I also created an author page on Amazon to help people find my other novels in that genre. I think it’s called Author Central.

But I’m not in this to earn a living from writing. For me it’s not a business. I’m financially sound and don’t need to work. I enjoy writing and get a kick when someone buys my novel. That’s my reward.

Well, that article is from a site that sells verified Amazon reviews. From the article:

" At SPR we offer a mailing promotion service to readers who buy and review books with a guaranteed number of sales, within Amazon Guidelines. Look for services that offer both guaranteed sales and reviews if you are looking for Verified Customer Reviews."

I’d be wary of quoting a site selling verified reviews about the purported benefits of Amazon reviews.

Here are a few more articles contradicting the idea that reviews influence rank:

" But first, let’s clear something up — there seems to be this myth that you need to cultivate tons of reviews to improve your product rankings. This is just not true.

The truth is: Reviews are not directly related to your product ranking. Reviews do, however, impact your conversions . And conversions, in turn, boost sales — which is a ranking factor.

Did you follow that? This is important so let’s look at it again:

Reviews do NOT directly increase your producing ranking — increased sales do.

It works like this: On page conversion rate + Daily sales velocity = Ranking"

Or this article: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/amazon-sales-rank-taming-the-algorithm/

" Reviews, ratings, and price do not affect sales rank.

Sales rank is governed by sales and downloads, with a little adjustment by Amazon’s algorithms. Sales rank is unaffected by the number of reviews, ratings, or any aspect of a book other than its sales performance."

" A common misconception about the Bestsellers Rank is that it takes into account more than simple sales, but it seems this idea is completely untrue. This rank takes into account only sales (recent and historical, more on this later), so I’m afraid getting tons of Amazon Vine members to leave you tons of reviews and ratings won’t necessarily help your Bestsellers ranking. This means that a rank is not representative of cumulative sales (or overall sales volume), but more on how a product has been selling very recently compared to others in it’s category."

They actually have Kindle Best Seller calculators online that determine number of sales per day based on a ranking you input. They don’t ask for number of reviews.

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Ugh I hate this stuff. I think just about all of it is a scam. It sacrifices quality writing to advertising and marketing. That link is also selling a product.
Here’s the stuff that particularly irks me from that link:

Start by looking at your competitors’ listings. Make note of what they seem to be doing right, and what you can improve upon. Pay close attention to:

This assumes that the book has competitors. And it makes competition more important than the customer/reader.

When you’ve optimized your listing for conversions, it’s time to accelerate your sales velocity. That’s a fancy word for sales frequency — the speed at which you sell products. And remember — sales velocity directly impacts your rankings.

The best way to increase sales velocity is to run promotions.

Through sites like AMZ Tracker’s Vipon with over 300,000 shoppers — you can distribute promotions and quickly improve your sales (and product rank).

Your goal is to maximize sales from the beginning to get your product ranked as quickly as possible.

Well that’s not my goal and it irks me to be dictated to. This is where we see that the advice given by the site is little more than a sales pitch. I could read the rest of the articles but they make me feel sick. I’m abandoning Amazon and the entire pursuit of sales ranking.
If Amazon wants to sell my books, they need to set up a better system, one that doesn’t force authors to spend all their time, money, and talent on playing the marketing game.
If Wattpad allows me to reach only 10 readers so be it.

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