Happy Wednesday everyone! Last week I wrote a post about building a strong foundation with your writing. You gotta have a good foundation to build upon for years to come. If you haven't read that one yet check it out. This post is about everything I learned about self-publishing in 2019!
After I published Project Hellion (I also published a fantasy short story collection and a children's book in 2017 and 2018), I think I went through my normal phase of feeling stuck and running through idea after idea never landing on one that quite fit. Until I came to Second Star on the Right, which I believe I wrote for Nanowrimo 2018. I was so in love with this book. It was a Peter Pan continuation. It had romance and talked about depression and finding hope and life again. I really poured all of my struggles with depression into Wendy and her story in that book. I thought... this is the one. This is the one that I want to get traditionally published. One of my goals has always been to at least try and get traditionally published. I revised and edited that book like crazy, I loved it so much. And I still do. That book was just what I needed at that time. I needed to write that story. I came into 2019 with the goal of trying to get an agent and getting that book traditionally published. Like that was my big main goal of the year. I was determined and was like, I'm not going to give up just because it might be hard. I did hours and hours of research on agents and wrote out a list and started writing a query while revising and editing that book. I was hyped and ready and everything... And then Katie Phillip's Author Branding Challenge happened.
I've talked about this challenge so much! But really, it was a huge milestone in my writing journey. I don't know what would have happened with 2019 if not for her challenge. Doing that five day challenge with her and going through the workbook every day made me fall back in love with self-publishing. I remembered all the reasons I love self-publishing. I love that my mom does my covers, I love that I have complete control over my story, but most importantly, I really love the encouraging and wonderful community of self-published authors or soon to be authors I've found. It's just an amazing environment. Everyone is so encouraging and so kind. I realized that making money and self-publishing my books is doable. It's hard, but it's possible. Katie gave me so much hope and helpful insight and encouragement during those five days. After a lot of thinking, a lot of praying and a lot of seeking advice from others I decided to switch gears. My goal for 2019 changed from getting an agent and traditionally published to learning everything I could on self-publishing and building a new strong foundation for this path I was deciding to go on. When I published Weapon Icean, I just wanted it published. I didn't think about or really research a ton about what it actually meant to self-publish. But this year, after a lot of time to think it over, I realized this is the path I'm meant to take. This is where I'm meant to be. And I decided I was going to go through a new learning curb. Like I did for all those years of learning the ins and outs of writing, I've spent all of this year learning the ins and outs of self-publishing. And I still don't know it all yet. There's still so much more to learn. But I am way more competent and knowledgeable in that area now than I was in January.
Before I get to Wayward and Cursed, I want to talk about my self-publishing journey. That's why I decided to split these two posts up because I realized I couldn't talk about my writing journey without talking about my self-publishing journey. It may look like it started in 2016 with Weapon Icean, but it really started after the Author Branding Challenge this year. I just want to talk about what I did to research self-publishing and to really know how I knew that this was the way I needed to go. I'll do another post, probably in the new year, about how I launched Wayward and what I learned publishing that book. But for now, here are just a few things that were super beneficial to me as I learned about self-publishing:
Google. It amazes me how many people do not utilize the expansive amount of knowledge at their fingertips. If I don't know something, the first thing I do is Google it. I guess that's one of the reasons I'm so good at research. I've been sifting through articles and papers for years until I find a credible source that will give me the answers I'm looking for. That's the first place I started when learning about self-publishing. I googled other people's self-publishing stories, I researched royalties, I did a lot of looking stuff up about the best way to market your books and about whether to do Kindle Unlimited or not. More importantly though, and something I urge you to do if you want to self-publish, I looked up the most popular genres on Amazon. The ones that make the most money and sell the most books. Just Google it. Google anything and everything to do with self-publishing and with enough time, you're bound to come up with answers.
Utilize Amazon. Check Amazon regularly. Check the Kindle Unlimited section of the genre you write in or want to write in every once in a while to see what new trend is hopping right now. Through the summer Academy books have been huge in the YA section. Lots of self-published authors have been making the big money off YA Academy books. I tried writing one... it didn't work out haha But if you can and you have a worthwhile idea that you're excited about, follow the trend. Don't feel pressured to, though. I know about other self-published authors, but I would say, never write something for money. If you hate writing it or it feels like a chore every day and you're writing it only because its trendy and you know you'll make money off it... don't. Stop now. Write what you love. Or better yet, find a genre that's selling on Amazon that you think you could enjoy or that you know you enjoy and write that.
Utilize other people. For real people! If you want to be self-published one day I highly recommend you take Katie Phillip's free five day Author Branding Challenge course. It's simple, its easy but so worth the time and so, so helpful. I believe she does it twice a year. She also has a several months long branding class as well that I've heard amazing things about. Katie really gives you a good starting platform to build upon in that class. Before doing anything else, I suggest you take the class. She covers a little bit of everything. Also, blogs and podcasts can be super helpful too. The podcast that has officially gone down as my all time favorite podcast and most helpful is Kirsten Oliphant's Create If Writing podcast. She is incredible! She's an established self-published author of sweet romances and also writes a YA Academy series under a pen-name. I wouldn't be where I am, I wouldn't have learned half the things I learned this year, if not for her podcast. So please do check it out.
Those are three of the biggest things that I learned over the year. Or that I used to learn about self-publishing throughout 2019. Wayward's launch wouldn't have gone so well if I hadn't used all of what I had learned from all that research and help through 2019.
So, yeah, I did all that throughout the year and then I wrote Wayward in... April, I think. I wrote that book in two weeks. I was so hyped about this project! And I wrote it during one of the busiest weeks of my entire year. I was up and out of the house by eight thirty to go to my church to help with their VBS and didn't get home till like four. I would get up extra early to write and when I got home I would write some more. Wayward was one of those miracle books. A first draft that puts all other first drafts to shame. Writing and revising and editing that book made writing seem so easy! Too easy. And when I published it? It did better than any of my other books had ever done.
I was on fire and thought I was so amazing. I wrote Cursed and that took me... longer because it was a harder draft and because I was revising and editing Sterling Silver at the same time. Writing Cursed sort of put me back in a place of realizing that not every book is going to be easy and quick to write. Some will take longer than others. It's a reality check I need to have every once in a while. I published Sterling Silver at the end of October which was kind of like a dream because I love that book so much. Sebastian and Tabitha will forever be two of my favorite characters. But in hindsight... I sort of wish I had spent more time editing it before releasing it. I'm thinking of re-releasing it this year sometime after going through another round of edits with it.
Anyways, those are just a few of the big things I learned in 2019 about self-publishing. I hope this post was helpful to you in some way! To all of you looking to self-publish, you can do it! Put in the hard work and it will be so, so worth it!
What are some of your favorite resources for writers?
Melody Personette is a YA author, book dragon and follower of Jesus. She's been writing since she can remember and now tells stories about the magic of hope, light in the darkness and love conquering all and is passionate about inspiring teens and young adults with her novels. Melody lives in the home she shares with her family in Indiana where she is a college student working toward her Bachelors in general studies, is an avid reader and tea lover. You can find her on her website at www.melodypersonette.com or connect with her on her blog at www.melodypersonetteauthor.blogspot.com where she talks about everything from writing, to faith, to her latest readers. You can also connect with her on instagram @_melody_author_