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5 Things I Learned My First Week of Self-Publishing

I entered the self-publishing game with my first ebook in late August, but I’ve already learned a good deal. One thing I learned is that there’s much more to learn!

Here are five other things I learned my first week of self-publishing on Amazon:

1. Don’t be jealous of your author friends when their book is No. 17 in some sub-category of a sub-category of a sub-category. My ebook sold a whopping four copies in one day and I zoomed up the sales rankings, peaking at 21,000 overall in the Kindle store and in the Top 20 of the science fiction short reads category. For a little while I was the No. 2 Hot New Release. I’m selling the book for 99 cents, so all it took was $3.96 in sales to get me into that position. Amazon doesn’t care about price when it comes to sales ranking, only units sold. (Four sales in a day isn’t bad, though. But you’d have to be consistent and sell four copies a day for a few weeks to make decent money.)

2. If you’re going to publish short books, it’s probably best to put the copyright info in the back. That’s because the “Look Inside” preview feature grabs only the first 10 percent of the book. So with a book that’s only, say, 15 or 20 pages long, it might not show anything but the copyright page. I learned that the hard way and had to re-upload my book, and when you do that, it can takes hours or even days to update.

3. Not everyone has the Kindle app or knows how to buy an ebook on Amazon. It’s a given for regular readers, but for friends and family who are not bibliophiles , buying your ebook may confuse the hell out of them.

4. Don’t expect people to buy your book just because it’s on Amazon. You need to do work. Promote. Develop a readership. Get your name out there. It’s hard enough to get someone to read your stuff when it’s available for free online; getting strangers to plunk down even 99 cents for your words is a huge challenge.

5. Don’t expect to get much writing done. Even publishing a short ebook (mine contains two short stories and runs the equivalent of 17 pages) takes a lot of time. You have to design a cover, format your book, create a copyright page, possibly a table of contents, proofread it all, test it, upload it, write the meta data, reupload it (if you find mistakes), wait for approval, possibly prove you own the copyrights to the text — and when it’s published you have to market it. Like this… Hey, I published an ebook. Please buy it here.