I Have Got To Stop Reading Books On Self-Publishing

I just end up getting really depressed.

I’m sure these books are written with the best of intentions.  The authors are always cheerful and hopeful, just bursting with enthusiasm about how well their books are selling and how with just a few simple steps I can be just as successful.  I appreciate that, I really do.


First, these books seem to assume that I am writing books that are just like books that are already top sellers, and advise making covers that look just like those books, write blurbs that sound just like those books, even copy the way those books are formatted.

Many of them stress that a book must fit into an existing genre and must be easily summed up in a few sentences.

Well, mine isn’t, so according the them I’m scratched right out of the gate.  I don’t think I’m a literary snob or anything–I enjoy those kinds of books.  It’s just not what I write.

Then there’s output.  These books are full of sentences like, “Once you have five or six books in a series…”  It took me a year to write Catskinner’s Book, and I anticipate spending that much time on Cannibal Hearts.  I simply can’t write a book every four months, which seems to be what “successful” writers do.

Which brings us to time.  I work forty plus hours a week.  I can’t spend six hours a day writing and another six hours a day on social media.  I’m not independently wealthy.

Speaking of which, I also don’t have several thousand dollars to spend launching a book.  The author of one book I recently read bragged about all the money saving tips he had and how he was able to launch a new book for only two thousand dollars.

I spent nothing getting Catskinner’s Book into print.  I did the work myself, writing, formatting, cover design, everything.  Granted, I did have a professional editor who was willing to copy edit the book for free, because she’s my mother, but still.  And I’ll admit that I live with a talented photographer who let me use the cover image for free.

I didn’t have any money to spend on “polishing” a “package”.  I still don’t. I certainly am not making it from sales.

Oh, yes, sales.  I’m reading things like “don’t worry if for the first few months you’re only selling a few hundred copies a month…” Excuse me?  I have made fewer than fifty total sales (I’m not counting the KDP freebies nor the GoodReads giveaways, only sales where money changed hands) in the six months or so that Catskinner has been on the market.

Fewer than fifty sales total.  All of them on Amazon. Despite having people tell me they wanted to read my book on the Nook, I have yet to make a single sale on B&N.  Not one.

Oh, and I’m not on Smashwords, and they all tell me that I must be on Smashwords. Well, I suppose I could be, if I was willing to go out and buy Microsoft Word so I could format it the way they want it formatted.  Personally, I’d rather format the book the way I want it formatted.

I don’t have hundreds of friends on Facebook, I don’t have thousands of followers on Twitter, I don’t have more than a half dozen people who read this blog.  I think that most of my immediate family has read my novel, or at least owns a copy, but I don’t have a huge pool of friends and family that I can press into service like Amway salesmen to create a “buzz” for me.

When I die I hope I die of some wasting disease that leaves a desiccated corpse because I don’t think my kids will be able to find six men to carry my coffin, without paying half of them.  I’m just not popular.

So, am I wasting my time by writing and trying to publish my books?  Probably, according to the experts in the field.   They are much too upbeat to come right out and say, that, of course–phrases like “give it up you pathetic loser” clash with their happy faces.

I’m not going to give it up, not writing.  But I think I’m going to give up reading “How To Self-Publish And Make Millions”.  Those books are not written for me.

About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008MPNBNS
This entry was posted in On Promotion, On Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to I Have Got To Stop Reading Books On Self-Publishing

  1. Pingback: I Have Got To Stop Reading Books On Self-Publishing | The Lone Writer: Shannon Yarbrough

  2. Awesome post, Misha, which goes hand in hand with Conny’s post at Robin’s blog yesterday – Why do we write? And it’s these “face the facts” books that make it all too depressing. I’d tell anyone who answers either question with some reason involving money that they are indeed wasting their time. Even if you followed all the rules in those books, who is to say your book is guaranteed to be popular? Even some (a lot even) traditionally published books just don’t sell. So why try to copy them? Be yourself. Be who you are. No one wants to read what someone else has already written. So what if you only sell a handful of copies to friends, family, and Amazonians? Those are the readers you should embrace anyway – the ones you know. As Stephen King said, if you wrote something and got it published and the check didn’t bounce and you paid a bill with it, consider yourself an author! Oh, and unless you write smut, Smashwords is a waste of time too. Hang in there!

  3. lala1966 says:

    I wrote my autobiography and self-published it through Create a space. I didn’t have to buy Micro soft word. I thought I was going to but I found something on the internet that said it was microsoft word, and it was free. At any rate, the format worked. I know that it really must be hard to spend a year of your life writing something that you would like the world to read, and then see that the whole world isn’t reading. But I will feel lucky if I get 50 people to read lol. It took me a year as well, and I don’t even work. I hope your sales go up soon. You should promote it on your blog.

  4. Misha, your book is fantastic! Sometimes it just takes a while and, in the meantime, we’ll be selling your books at AOTSP just like the one last week. More to come, I’m quite sure. Forget those “experts.” Do you know how they made their money? Writing books telling other people how to sell books!

  5. vbholmes says:

    So far, I count eight readers who’ve bothered to like or comment on your blog so you’re already two ahead of expectations. And fifty copies sold for someone who has done nothing to promote his book–sounds good to me. Carry on.

  6. Great post, and I agree – I stay away from books telling me what I *should* be doing. Funny – when I was working on my dissertation I found that participating in “dissertation support” groups and discussion threads scared the bejeezus out of me, so I decided to stay far away from all of them. I just kept my head down and concentrated on my goal, which I eventually achieved without nearly the angst I had felt when I tried to do what *they* said I should be doing. Same with writing – I do better when I stay in my cave. 🙂

  7. I tend to look at those kind of books with the same degree of skepticism as get rich quick schemes. There is no formula for what books sell. Being a best-selling author, self-published or no, has a lot of luck involved. To trot out a very overused example – look at Fifty Shades of Grey. A more unlikely bestseller there could not be. But it is.

    Have you checked out Chuck Wendig?. He’s an author who publishes through both means, and has lots of fantastic advice.

  8. Claude Whitt says:

    i’ve heard this before but i’ts interesting nonetheless.

  9. I like your skepticism of the advice-givers. They (we — I sometimes find myself giving advice, too) can only describe what they/we know, which is to say, I might as well tell you to wear my shoes because they fit me, ignoring that your feet might not be so comically oversized as mine are. The world’s a big place; we advisors should shut up more. By the way, I haven’t read your novel, but I really enjoy your voice as a blogger. Your posts are always an interesting read. I don’t know if or how you could profit from blogging, and I don’t know if you find it as rewarding as writing fiction, but I’m sure glad you keep writing here.

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