One Simple Truth About Self Publishing

D. E. Knobbe

Unknown   You’ve heard this before “Publishing is currently undergoing rapid and monumental changes.” That makes it an exciting time to be a writer because there are so many more publishing avenues. From ebooks to POD’s (print on demand) the world is your publishing oyster.
     You can create an ebook and have it up for sale on Amazon within a few hours. You can contract with a POD company and pay minimal set up fees, which means you no longer have to print several thousand copies to keep your price per book within reason. Yes, even children’s full color books can be printed on demand now. Sounds wonderful, rosy, extraordinarily easy. Where do you sign up?
     Whoa! Best to put the breaks on that runaway best seller, you’ll need to acknowledge one simple truth first: Each POD book is “printed AFTER it sells.” Yes sells. That is the one simple truth that hasn’t changed in publishing. For your book to be read in any form, it still needs to be sold. No matter how brilliant your pages read, or how glossily the cover calls, it is not going to sell itself. And neither Amazon, Lulu or any other publishing platform is going to sell it for you. They’ll put it out there, but, alas, it could end up just gathering dust on a cyber bookstore shelf.
If you decide to self publish you must switch your point of view and see it as a product. Then you must educate yourself in online book marketing. Be prepared to devote countless hours to this process. Blogs, tweets and instagrams, won’t increase sales if there are no interested parties on the receiving end.
     I am not trying to discourage self-publishing. I am saying educate yourself first.           Before your publishing date arrives, have a marketing plan ready to launch along with your book. Know who your readers are and who buys for them. Target you audience directly.
     In the past there were many “Vanity Presses” who preyed on naive authors looking for self-publishing help, now, there are “Book Marketers” who sell hundreds of general packages that probably won’t increase your sales. If you want to hit your target market aim your efforts directly at it and keep shooting. You’re a lot more likely to get hits, than shooting (read dollars) aimlessly into cyberspace. You may not have piles of books unopened in your garage, but it will still take an average of 300 sales to break even, so spend your marketing dollars wisely.

I have to admit, that it took more than one failure for me to learn this lesson, and I am still learning from my successes and mistakes. I would love to hear what has worked for you and what hasn’t.

Do take the publishing leap. Do go forward. You can do it.

In the words of Norman Vincent Peale:

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

turtleMania_cover-2     P.S. My name is Dawne Knobbe. I run a small press called The Nature Kid along with my two awesome partners Molly Peckels and Svett Bycovec. We specialize in fun Color and Learn books about ocean creatures. We found a marketing niche for our products within the National Parks and we work it. To date we have sold over 45,000 books which can be found in 12 states, and thankfully, they are still swimming out the door:)

                       lol—Be sure to check us out online at thenaturekid.com

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About Dawne

Dawne Knobbe is an author, editor, Freelance Writer and Publisher. She has a B.A in Creative Writing and an M.A. in Professional Writing. Her work has been published in the L.A. Times, Fairfield Source, Kite Tales and many other periodicals. Her teen adventure novel Runaway Storm, received two Moonbeam Children’s Book awards in 2010. Dawne has a background in advertising as a Copywriter, Creative Director, and Marketing Specialist. She also owns a small press that has sold over 15,000 See into the Sea, Color and Learn books, but you won’t find them in too many book stores. An active Board Member for SCBWI-LA. Dawne leads many writers and Illustrators “Down the Rabbit Hole,” on adventurous writing field trips and works to inspire students, teachers and librarians in her Creative Writing Fun-Shops. If not off adventuring around the globe with hubby John and children Alexandra and James, she now hangs her hat in Huntington Beach, California.

12 thoughts on “One Simple Truth About Self Publishing

  1. Thanks for the info about self-publishing. Where are you living? If you come south, let us know and we’ll plan a get- together.
    Marcia

    • I am settling in the town of Ferndale just north of Bellingham in the state of Washington. Bought beautiful property with over 7 acres of woods and gardens. Hoping it will be n inspiring setting:)

  2. Thanks for the information. Sharing your experience could save someone some grief later. Do the vendors allow for a “test” copy to make sure that the book is as you wanted it? Paper quality, text, cover, and so forth?

    • Hi Charlene. In answer to your questions. Yes venders allow for proofs. Some charge extra. With Createspace I have heard complaints about the covers arriving much darker than they look on the computer. You should also have someone else proof your proof. A second set of editorial eyes can catch mistakes you might not. Regarding paper quality, it can vary from printer to printer. You should choose standard sizes for you book and many people recommend using a professional to design the cover.

  3. What excellent advice on self-publishing, Dawne! Thank you. How wonderful to have you living so close, now. Congratulations on the success of your books, and the new home you purchased. Can’t wait to see you! Much love, Edie

  4. Thanks for the great article! I’m going to be self publishing a children’s early chapter reader in October and yes, I’ve spent many multitudes of hours learning about online marketing and advertising. My impression is that even if I had gone the traditional route, waiting years for my book to be printed (assuming that I found a publisher interested), I would still have to do my own marketing. That made my decision for me!

  5. And that’s the reason I have never self published. You have to find your niche.
    If you have one and know how to massage it, (My housemates just watched a film about a chef in Japan massaging an octopus for an hour and a half before turning it into sushi. He’s a VERY successful chef) Back to what I was saying – if you know how to massage your niche, you should go for self publishing.. Lightning Source does great printing.
    I have never managed to manage my niche.. I would have thought I could sell Earthquake second edition. Excellent review from Migwest Review and USGS.. Website http://www.earthquake-book.com, Facebook page updated with current earthquakes.. I wrote to schools. Visited the fire department. Not so much. I sell a few copies at book events..
    If you aren’t prepared to spent countless hours learning to,promote and DOING IT, don’t self publish. I miss you, Dawne.

    • Too funny. Of course that chef should write his own book, because he apparently has “massaging his niche” down to a fine art. Will check out your link to earthquake!

  6. Excellent comments, Dawne, so true. I’m still learning! And yes, my covers came out darker on Createspace, tho I still like them. They now have a policy of having you order one copy of the book to check if you are satisfied before you give final approval. And I did hire someone to do my YA novel covers, was quite sure I couldn’t do it myself . : )