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10 Things I’ve Learned As A Self-Published Writer

by | Jul 21, 2014 | Personal Development, Self Publishing | 4 comments

The last ten years as a self-published author have been transformative for me – both personally and professionally.

I’ve accomplished a lot in the course of six years. I have also had a ton of highs and lows and learned a lot along the way. I understand the importance of sharing all that you’ve learned, so I’ve compiled a list of 10 things I’ve learned as a self-published writer.

10 Things I’ve Learned As A Self Published Writer – And you should too!

1.) Be realistic in your expectations.

Right before the launch of my first book, I’d read the success stories of other self-published writers and thought, “Hey, that will be me!”

My expectations wanted me to have that success right out of the gate and because of those unrealistic expectations there were times when I was so busy looking at what successes hadn’t happened, I didn’t realize what had.

2.) Don’t swear off social media!

The older I get, the more ridiculous social media seems to me. Facebook feels like over sharing. Twitter feels like a bunch of rambling and YouTube feels like pulling back the blinds and letting my entire neighborhood peep in. But despite that, writers have to be social. Even though I’d rather not do it, I know that the only way I will reach the level of success I desire, I will have to step out of my comfort zone and find my audience on the Internet.

3.) Define what success means to you!

Listen… all of us would love to be world-renowned authors! But what if you couldn’t be? What if you could only be known by 15,000 or even 5,000 devoted readers? Would you be okay with that?

As writers, we will all define success differently. If we measure our success by someone else’s writing career, we are setting ourselves up for huge disappointment.

Define what success means to you. If it means being world-renowned, then work towards that. If it means that you have 10,000 of the most devoted readers then strive for that!

Don’t allow anyone to make you feel that your success is not enough!

4.) The amount of money you make as a writer is dependent on you!

My very first year as a writer, I purchased a table at a book festival. I hadn’t been sitting at my table twenty minutes when a veteran author walked up and said, “If you think you’re going to make a lot of money as a writer, you aren’t!”

Talk about a dream killer!

Was what she said realistic? Maybe. But her delivery (on the wrong ears) could be dream killing.

I don’t think it’s a huge secret that writing in the past has been painted as one of those careers where working hard does not necessarily equal compensation. I believe that we’ve been told this so much that we’ve begun to believe it without expecting more of our careers or ourselves.

What that “veteran author” didn’t know was that I had already done my homework and I knew that there was a lot of truth in what she said. And for that reason I had already created a plan that would allow me to make money in a few different ways while I grew my brand as a writer.

To be clear, she nor any other author that utters those words have any intention on killing your dreams. They are trying to prepare you for the business side of things. So I’ll just say this… be realistic in your goals!

It’s important, especially in the beginning of your writing career to diversify your income while getting your writing career off the ground.

5.) You will become a better writer.

I am a perfectionist.

There I said it!

I used to belabor over a word, a paragraph, a page, or a chapter until I literally couldn’t bear to look at it anymore.

I would read. Reread. And reread again.

I started this very bad habit when I developed a love for writing and I worked very hard to break this pattern because it slows down the writing.

I want my words to be perfect. My thoughts to be eloquent.

I want my readers to say “Damn that was profound!”

But not at the expense of writing the same chapter for weeks. So what I do now, is I write first and edit later.

6.) The hard part is not the writing.

There’s this myth floating around that the hard part of writing is the writing.

Myth busted. The hard part of writing is the marketing. No matter how much difficulty you have writing the actual book, your biggest challenge will be finding your audience and convincing them to buy your book. I belong to many networking groups for writers and while there is always discussion about the actual writing itself, there are far more questions about marketing, getting exposure, publicity, etc. The frustration is rarely from the writing. The frustration comes in when the writer has spent two years perfecting a book, a cover, and a blurb only for it to be on Amazon for months and have only sold 10 copies.

Make yourself familiar with the marketing very early on. I promise you, it will save you a lot of heartache and tears.

Suggested: Book Marketing Ideas For The Author

7.) You will find your readers one person at a time.

I remember when I started my YouTube page. I had less than five subscribers to my channel. Yet I still had to take the same amount of time to come up with an idea for a video, shoot the video, edit the video and then market the video.

I would watch videos of other successful YouTubers and they all shared that they too had started off with just a few subscribers and then eventually those one here and two there started to add up.

Now I have almost 12,000 subscribers and over 611,000 views on my The Life Of A Writer channel.

Be grateful for your small community at first. Those will be the people that help to get the word out about your books.

8.) Measure where your readers come from.

You are doing yourself a huge disservice if you are not measuring where your readers are coming from and how they find you. Without this measurement you don’t know which marketing tactics are working for you and which ones are not. Use Google Analytics on your website or blog to determine where your traffic is coming from. If Facebook isn’t a huge traffic driver but Twitter is, maybe it’s time to switch gears.

9.) Read!

Never stop reading! After all reading is what made you fall in love with writing to begin with.

10.) Keep writing!

And lastly, no matter what – keep writing! The success you’re trying to attain will never happen if you give up. If your first book’s sales are dismal, keep writing! Create a catalog for your audience to discover. Your day will come and when it does you want to be prepared.

What have you learned as a self-published author? Please share in the comment section below.

NEXT: Five Qualities Of A Good Writer


  1. Leah Price

    I love this article! I've found marketing can be difficult, but it's one of my favorite parts. I write Middle Grade Fantasy and I love connecting with my readers. They are the best!

  2. Adam Palmer

    Great tips, and I wish you all the very best as an author. The income vs time spent may not always be great, but often the most rewarding work comes at that cost. To work in something that fulfils you is priceless though.

  3. Evelyn AAnderson

    I have one book out and have decided to be a self publisher….any company that you can refer myself to…Im loving what I do writing has been since a child and hopefully till I leave the earth. It has been hard due to my disabilities. .scoliosis. .muscle spasm.and migraine headaches I cant even walk at times..When I leave home I have about 4 hours to mingle then im in alot of pain I tell everyone when they ask me whats wrong with me to read my book its in there: book titled: Which Way Should I Go by Evelyn Anderson available online at Amazon. Com/ Barnes and Noble sites/ (BAM) Books A Millions/ & Goodreads….

    God is my strengh..please support myself going door to door isnt as eazy as selling Avon or Tupperware back in the days…

    Evelyn Blog at Weebly. Com

    951 956-0047

  4. Kristen Steele

    "The hard part is not the writing." Perhaps the most important thing to take away from this post. If you want to be successful with self-publishing the work actually starts after you've completed the book! And this type of work is ongoing.


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