Lessons Learned (so far)

Sometime around the beginning of 2012, I decided to release my first book. A friend urged me to self-publish, so I did some research and decided to go for it. Since then, I’ve learned a thing or two that would have been good to know going in. I’ve had a triumph or two, I’ve fallen on my face once or twice, but I’ve never looked back. I’m proud of my book and what I’ve accomplished to date.

  1. If you’re a Canadian author and you’ve decided to publish with an American outlet such as CreateSpace or Kindle, start the process of getting your U.S. Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) early. You need that number to apply for tax-exemption. Canada and the U.S. have a treaty whereas Canadians do not have to pay tax on money earned in the States because we pay income tax to Revenue Canada. And let me tell you, the IRS is every bit as fun to deal with as RevCan. There is a phone number you can call listed on their website, but it’s always busy. I’ve never once heard it ring at the other end. If you don’t complete this process, Amazon will whithold a whopping 30% of your share of the royalties.
  2. Another note to Canadian indie authors: be aware that Chapters will not carry your book unless you publish with them. This was a tough one for me to swallow since their packages cost $2-3K and Amazon is, well, free. However, you should also be aware that Amazon will not place your book on Amazon.ca, so Canadian readers are forced to pay high shipping charges. Feels like a catch-22 and is supremely frustrating. (If anyone has more information about this, please comment below.)
  3. Start soliciting reviews well before your launch date. Go to Google to get a list of book blogs. Read their submission guidelines carefully. Many of them will not review self-published books. Don’t get upset – just move on. You’re too busy to waste time ranting. Make sure that your book falls within the genres that they are accepting. Write a short, yet professional email that outlines your book and clearly states its category. If you don’t receive an answer, leave it and move on. If you do receive an answer, do not visit the reviewer’s blog every day looking for your book review. They will contact you when it’s up.
  4. Join Goodreads and participate in discussions. Once your book is published, set up an author page. Please don’t spam by mentioning your book in every note you post. There are some great forums for self-published authors where you can solicit reviews.
  5. Social networking has been a slippery slope for me, I will admit. I’m not shy about tooting my own horn, but I do have a problem with bombarding friends and family with my sales pitch. I set up a separate Facebook page for my book. As for Twitter, I’m slowly but surely building a network and I am not shy to say that I quickly unfollow those authors who fill my feed with ‘buy my book’ tweets. If I’m interested in your book, I will find the link on your profile. Be entertaining and informative, not annoying. I don’t know if I’ve made any sales through Twitter, but I have bought a handful of books from authors I enjoy following. Honestly, Twitter may very well be a huge time-waster for me, but I’ve also learned a lot by following links to blogs about self-publishing.

It’s been an exhiliarating several months, and all in all, not a bad way to spend the spring and summer. The biggest challenge for me has been finding the time to work on my next book when I’m so busy marketing and promoting (and smacking my head from time to time – damn that learning curve!). At the end of the day, the first one is out and I’m really proud of it. When the next one is ready, I can use what I’ve learned to start the process sooner and build more hype before I launch. My new mantra is ‘Keep moving forward’ and so far, it seems to be working.

Happy writing!

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Filed under ePublishing, Self-publishing

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