My post on PJ Lifestyle: 8 Lessons I’ve Learned By Self-Publishing 3 Kindle E-books

Book publishing back in the dayI have a new post up at PJ Lifestyle:

When I was in my 20s and 30s, my dream was to publish the Great American Junk Novel. I had no illusions about my ability (or, rather, inability) to write something profound, but I truly believed I could write a Bridges of Madison County or Da Vinci Code. I was wrong. After innumerable efforts, I gave up. I have no imagination, no sense of character, and I’m incapable of writing dialog.

Thanks to the blogosphere, however, I discovered in my 40s that, while I’m not and never will be a novelist, I am an essayist. Over the past decade, I’ve written over 11,000 essays, which easily qualifies me for “expert” status. My blog has become a vast repository of my thoughts on just about everything: politics (mostly politics), parenting, education, Hollywood, social issues, national security, travel — you name it, and I’ve probably written about it.

Considering how many hours I’ve spent at the keyboard, I’ve always hoped that I could monetize my blog. Unfortunately, while I’ve got a solid, and very dear to me, following of readers who genuinely like the way I think and write, I’ve never leveraged my way into the Big Time amongst conservative bloggers. Not being in the Big Time means that any monetization I’ve done has earned me just enough money to buy a few books, not to make a mortgage payment or two.

A few years ago, it occurred to me that I might be able to make some money if I took my writings to a new readership. That’s how I decided to try my hand at self-publishing. I saw it all clearly:  I would assemble my essays, package them attractively, upload them at Kindle Direct Publishing, and sell them for a profit on Amazon. It seemed so easy….

Sadly, it wasn’t easy, at least not the first time around. That didn’t deter me from publishing a second e-book and, just recently, a third. Each book has been easier than the one before, so I’d like to share with you some lessons I’ve learned, many of which I learned the hard way.

Read the rest here.

For those unfamiliar with my writing, the three books are:

The Bookworm Turns: A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land

Easy Ways To Teach Kids Hard Things : The fun way to teach your children important life principles

The Bookworm Returns : Life in Obama’s America

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  • Ymarsakar

    A lot of the most popular individual published works on Amazon are from people whose works were either rejected by mainline publishers or people who were too busy working on their own abilities.
    While the main line publishers justification for their selection process is the market and the quality of the stack of submitted novels, open source data analysis has proven that mainstream American publishing houses are significantly out of tune of what people are willing to pay for. The lock or semi monopoly has degraded quality to a sort of reconstituted mismash. Another case of reality proving instincts. People felt at times there was something wrong with the book publishing houses and what they chose to print. But there was never proof that there could be another way to do things or another kind of selection process.

  • Ymarsakar

    You are right to note that people won’t spend 5 dollars or even 3 dollars on an unknown author about a book that doesn’t have comprehensive or numerous reviews. Independent authors must build their reputation and niche. They must find their market and market themselves. Generally that was the responsibility of publishing houses, that’s why they took the cut. If you want to cut out the middle men and do it yourself, you’ll have to know as much about marketing as the gurus.
    There are several genres already pre built, that independent authors enter into. Thus they generally have to prove their unique worth. Your difficulty rests two fold, Book, creating your own niche based your own worth, while also marketing your own authenticity.
    Thus whether people will buy your first book at market rates isn’t that important. What’s important is that they get the book, read it, talk about it, create hype, and create reviews. A book bought at 0 or 1 dollar price point, is selling the advertisement. So that the second book in the series is better marketed and able to obtain better market share. Long term analysis better in this than short term benefits.
    And of course, the “old school” method of marketing your books is to market yourself and your own ideas. Via interviews, blog interviews, so forth and so on. THe more communities you penetrate, the greater the word of mouth will reach critical mass. Once it reaches critical mass, normal advertise can take hold and work. But until that point, normal advertisement won’t even see a niche to work on. 

  • Sgt. Mom

    What Ym said … and I’ve been doing the independent publishing thing since 2007. I started as a blogger, and just … evolved, pretty much following the same track as you, Book. I did partner up with a local teeny publisher who loved my novels and adored Texiana of every sort … and I have a brother who is a freelance graphic artist.
    They say that word of mouth marketing is the very best kind – but it usually takes at least five years to even begin paying off. My first book hit that marker about a year ago, and just keeps on selling, and selling and selling, in spite of the fact that I hardly do any marketing for it any more. But yeah – do interviews, follow and comment on other book blogs, offer review copies, work social media, post excerpts, and do local events. Every little bit helps to build a following.
    (I’m commenting here, because I apparently am not allowed by the PJM system to post comments any more.)

    • Bookworm

      That’s wonderful, Sgt.Mom, that you’re able both to write novels and to write them well enough that you have a following.  I’m both envious and impressed.

      • Sgt. Mom

        Thanks, Book … it all developed rather gradually. But I have always been able to write conversations well. I guess, being a radio/TV broadcaster for so long, let me develop and ear for it.
        Most of my following is local – since my books are set in Texas – and I often run into people who are descendants of real people whom I put into my books as secondary characters. 

  • Ymarsakar

    One thing that I’ve seen others do is to provide a Command Authority, hypnotic trigger, at the end of your book, with an ebook link to the amazon review page. Telling your readers that if they liked the book, to write a review of it. This is asking for the work of your valued readers that if they like it, to help push it to others that may like it via visibility. If people feel strongly enough about your work, there will be positive and negative reviews. However, there’s little worth in encouraging public negative reviews. Some are useful, but the law of averages dictates that most people who dislike something, have no idea how to fix what it is they dislike. Geniuses like Brandon Sanderson are few and far between here.

  • Ymarsakar

    While the blog post itself about the ebook journey is a good way to penetrate new communities using pajamas media, something else you can do to carve out a market share is to manipulate human expectations and desires. What that means is that people desire protection from the Leftist Regime, even though they may not word it that way consciously.
    Thus as a person that grew up in a Leftist regime, you can bill yourself as an expert or authority on how to operate incognito and unnoticed by the Left’s stormtroopers and thought police. The fact that you still use a cognomen is thus reflective of your authority, not then a liability against your brand. This is turning a weakness into a strength, as Sun Tzu advised.