Self-Publishing Seems Like an Uphill Battle

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

So here’s what surprised me about self-publishing.

I never thought my books would take off overnight and turn me into an instant millionaire.

I am surprised that there’s so little interest in them.

Call me naïve but I just figured, wow, the Internet, you know?  You put your book on Amazon and Amazon is checked by zillions of people so someone searching for a topic related to your book so just by pure chance there should be at least a hundred bucks worth of purchases right there.

100 purchases at .99 cents a piece?  Is that a lot?  I don’t know.  Is it a lot in comparison to the millions of people who go on to Amazon constantly?

It’s like being the guy that sells oranges on the side of the road.  At least 5 people out of the 1000 who drive past you will buy an orange.

I don’t know.  I’m just surprised because I haven’t made enough money to count on the fingers on my right hand yet.

Am I complaining or being a crybaby?  Yes, though that’s not the intention.  I guess I just thought Amazon was the ultimate tuna filled ocean and if I dipped my net into it, surely just by random luck I’d cash the occasional fish.

Do I need 100 bucks?  No.  Would 100 bucks change my life?  No.  I’m just surprised I’ve barely made a couple bucks.

During my recent giveaway, I did give out roughly 75 free books so I guess that’s cool.  I hope people liked them.

It’s a little frustrating and makes me wonder if it is worth it to continue but…who am I kidding?  I couldn’t stop writing if I tried.

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21 thoughts on “Self-Publishing Seems Like an Uphill Battle

  1. It is painful. Part of the problem is the way you are thinking about it. You aren’t the net. You are the fish and the ocean is so full that people dip in and grab a few fish but there’s a good chance you aren’t going to get caught. You have to make your fish bigger, so to speak. NO, that’s wasn’t a “size” comment. LOL.

    • How do you make your fish bigger? Write more books?

      I’m just like…I’m surprised I haven’t made 10 bucks yet. 10 bucks is nothing. If there are a million people on Amazon, surely 10 would hit the buy button by accident or something.

      It’s like how they give you free points on the SATS just for showing up and spelling your name right. Where’s my free points?

  2. Liz says:

    Visibility is your biggest problem on Amazon. There are thousands of books being published each day. Okay, maybe hundreds. But that’s another hundred or so to add to yesterday’s hundred.

    I was in the same boat as you during my first year and according to Facebook, I joined FB as an author 3 years ago yesterday. A few months after that, I started seeing some traction with the first three books I published because I finally started to advertise and set up my newsletter and also work with other romance authors (that’s my niche) in sharing each others’ books in our newsletters. I also wrote more books.

    I actually hardly saw any sales through my blog, tbh.

    • Do you think there’s an advantage to the romance genre at all? It seems very popular. I doubt I could ever write one though.

      • Liz says:

        Facebook is where many romance readers go to and I learned that three years ago, after so many years thinking they read blogs. They don’t. They’re on Facebook and that’s where they see the ads. If not Facebook, then amazon where one needs to do AMS ads to get some visibility going. Then there is Bookbub and other newsletter promo providers that will bring new eyes to your book. Bookzio, fussy bookworm, Bargainbooksy and freebooksy, etc. And romance isn’t easy either. In fact, it’s harder to break into because it’s the most competitive out there. Check out K-lytics if you’re into data as well as Write to Market by Chris Fox to find out which niches have less competition and are easier to sell books in.

      • I bought 100$ worth of Facebook ads during a book promo and was able to give out 75 free books. I’m not sure about spending more…say I dump 1,000 into it and it works then great but if it doesn’t then what a waste so I don’t know…advertising seems like dropping a cup of change into a slot machine and hoping for three cherries

      • Liz says:

        I wouldn’t advertise one book that’s free, especially when there’s nothing to follow up that free book with, meaning no second book that people buy. So you miss the sell-through. Worse, if you’re in KU, there’s no pages read income either because books downloaded for free instead of being added to their KU library to read later are counted as sales, not borrowed books.

        Write the next book. That’s all I can say. Until then don’t give any more books away unless it’s for review purposes. After writing that second book, write the third book, and then the fourth book. You can only complain so much about why the first book isn’t selling before you need to return to the computer and type out that second book, that second set of prompts. And then the third book. Tough love but that’s the way this business works.

        I had my biggest month ever income-wise when I had a Bookbub promotion for the first book in my series free. With Amazon setting up a series page for me after I requested one, readers saw that the next book was available and bought that after downloading the first free book. That first book was downloaded by 32,000 people from Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, etc but I also sold about the same number of books for book 2 at full price. That’s how the first book free strategy works. If you’ve got only one book and you give it away, that’s pretty much the end of the sales funnel.

      • So it sounds like you recommend working on sequels instead of new books altogether?

      • Liz says:

        Series, sequels, more series. Standalones work for later, I think, when you’re more established. I’ve always loved series books because I already either know the characters or the author’s style even if the books are ghostwritten — Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, VC Andrews, James Patterson, Diana Gabaldon, and Harry Potter, to name a few. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and all the books that follow, George RR Martin, John Sandford, etc – they all have a series. Look at the nonfiction books – same thing. Find a common thread and write the next book.

      • Liz says:

        I wrote three standalones in the beginning of my career even when everyone told me to write the next book in the series but I didn’t listen because I had all these characters and storylines I wanted the world to read. I didn’t see my biggest months until the second book came out and then the third book. The standalones don’t sell as well compared to my series.

  3. lhall06 says:

    4th reader here… I know your pain but you got to keep going. The hardest part of this deal is telling the world your stuff exists. We are creatives first and foremost, the whole marketing thing is something we stumble over and we will always struggle with. The best thing you can do is create. Write, edit, publish and repeat. Eventually something will stick. The more work you have the more chance you have of ‘success’ so write across genres, challenge your ability all the time, go places you haven’t been before with your writing. Constantly move forward, that’s what I do, I already know what my next 3 projects will be. A.B.W- Always Be Writing

    • I do keep hearing the best self promo is to just write your next book. Problem is I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do more than 1 book a year so that’ll be a rather slow buildup. If only self publishing was available when I was younger.

      • lhall06 says:

        1 book a year is pretty good going. Somehow I managed 2 releases this year but one was a short novella and a completely different genre. The best thing I can say is that you arent alone. If your not already on goodreads check out the ‘support for indie authors group’. Lots of like minded types there and plenty of advice and book promo ideas with shared results. Self publishing is the future!

  4. Hemdiva Dev says:

    Hi! I’m on the same boat, hoping I’ll catch millions of fishes. But without advertising, there are little to no books who became best sellers. Writing is actually a business, not a profession, you need to invest money to get returns. And new authors, including me, lack the capital. So they keep struggling. But let’s hope this will change somehow 🙂

  5. Grant Langley says:

    I understand your pain. It is so bloody exhausting, and, at times soul-destroying. This is the path we’ve chosen, but who knew it would be so hard – eh? I’ve tried virtually every advertising platform out there, and there’s no easy answer. The problem is that the market is swamped. Amazon is a great opportunity for authors to self-publish rather than wait years to get a publishing deal ( if ever! ) If effort equals results then most of us would be best-sellers. I find what eases the pain is to immerse myself in writing my next book and to hell with everything else! Good luck 🙂

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