Almost 2 weeks after my first book’s submission to Kindle Direct Publishing, I have become aware of a few factors I wish I had known in advance to submerging myself into the crude world of fiction writing. Some of these were pleasant surprises; the vast majority, a bitter disappointment and obstacle to my creative drive.
Without further ado, here are the 5 blatant actualities about self-publishing that no author wants to tell you:
1. The sales are going to plummet, or never rise at all. The amount of competition is unbearable, with millions of writers out there who are most likely ahead of you in terms of experience, marketing, followers, etc. It is a shameful but tangible fact that selling a book without being a famous influencer is almost impossible, unless you are willing to invest in ads or other forms of paid promotion; either that, or you are a skilful social bug with a broad circle of friends at your disposal.
2. The self-doubt and regret that follows. Nothing is going to decrease your self-esteem more than seeing your book sit on the shelf, collecting dust and untouched for eternity, or how the sales graphs remain flat for days on end, as a lifeless carcass of broken dreams. You start to reconsider if your writing passion is truly achievable, or you have made a terrible mistake in even attempting to compose a believable story. No one told you it would be a trial for the weak of mind, and a test for your battered patience.
3. How a good book cover looks like. It is public knowledge that the front cover is in tandem with the contents of the book itself. With so many alternatives to choose from, I opted for Canva, an online graphic-design tool. Creating the cover was relatively easy; however, I had to re-design it in order to be legible in smaller devices, experimenting with different colours, fonts and backgrounds. If you thought it would be a piece of cake, think again.
4. Keywords, but which ones are better? When I first published my book, I was gullible enough to pick the first 7 keywords that came to my head and made sense in the context of my story. I found, nevertheless, an article which explained “How to choose your book keywords wisely” and, to my dismay, there is so much more to consider. Not only it is essential to choose the appropriate words, but you should also weigh the balance between popular (more competitive) terms and unpopular combinations (less competitive); how the books are selling within the Amazon ranks, how influential the authors are in your genre, etc. A horrible nightmare.
5. Is Kindle Unlimited really worth it? There is some controversy on this topic, with many supporters and detractors of the Kindle platform itself. While it is undeniably the most popular publisher you can approach without an agent (those who start from absolute zero), it comes at a price—poor royalties. In fact, they verge on the edge of exploitation when the prices are below £1.99, with only a 35% profit per sale. This is particularly harsh on new authors like myself, because you cannot expect the readers to spend such “fortune” (today’s standards) on a nobody’s literary work. And that, my dear friend, is as truthful as the Earth goes around the Sun.
Those are the 5 facts I wish I had known before self-publishing. Let me know on the comment section below if there are any other points you would like to share with other fellow writers. Take care and keep on writing!