Nothing Free About Self Publishing

MARLA MILLER
4 min readApr 28, 2024

I’ve recently relaunched a novel, Deadly Little Secrets, I self published through KDP. I want to promote it so I’m scouting sites that will help me accomplish my goal, i.e. to sell my ebook out here. BookBub is a respectable site, so I’m told, aimed at recommending members’ fave selections and if those members happen to also be authors, Bookbub offers opportunities to promote so I decided to look into promoting on Bookbub.

Ah, here’s the rub. My ebook lists for 1.99 today on KDP, a low price that I set there to promote. I’m not looking to make money, though I have no objection should that happen. My goal is to get this novel into the hands of readers and I know from years of experience, that goal is Herculean even if you’ve penned a compelling story. Getting readers to find it in the land of a billion books, a stat I just read regarding the number of books circulating out here in cyberspace, is the task at hand.

So I decided to try a BookBub promotion. They offer two tracks and checked out both. This track -see photo below- will cost me $810.00 to promote throughout the USA. The other track, significantly cheaper but with far less circulation, seemed the conservative way to invest in this site I have little data on so I opted for that option.

The point here: Self published authors pay mightily if they want their prose read. Reviews are a minimum of $50–$125 + for book reviews on sites most of us have never heard of, which doesn’t mean they are disreputable, just not known. A Kirkus review, well known, is $500.

‘That’s a lot of coin’ as we used to say back in the day. Then there’s paying a formatter to upload your book if you don’t know how, and don’t forget the price of an editor. Whether you’ve hired a content editor during the crafting of your story, a copy editor at the end to polish your prose and/or sharpen verbiage and/or a proofreader to make sure sentences are punctuated correctly, none of it’s free. And don’t forget about the book cover designer, also not free.

And yet? People continue to add their stories to self publishing sites with the expectation their books will sell.

“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Sure it does except no one can hear it except those critters within range. Same is true for self published books and all books that don’t have marketing/PR juggernauts propelling them into plain view. You cannot expect anyone to ‘hear your book ‘drop’ if you don’t have ‘cameras’ at the site to witness its drop. In today’s book publishing reality? Those ‘cameras’ won’t bear witness unless you pay for a crew to film the ‘dropping’ of your book.

I’m not sure why so many people decided that becoming a writer was a good way to spend their time. I do believe many who had ‘a book in them’ got permission to pursue their idea once the gatekeepers of traditional publishing were forced to make room for indie options simply because their model of publishing was proving to be unsustainable.

Of all the things that have changed in publishing over the last several decades, readers still demand compelling prose. I believe they always will. Nobody has interest in continuing to turn the pages of stories whose narrative arcs are muddled with inexperience. Whether the book is ninety nine cents or twenty dollars, they will put it down. Yesterday’s gatekeepers are called literary agents. Today’s gatekeepers? ‘Downloading a sample’ on Amazon. If you can’t hook this reader by the time I’ve completed reading that sample, you won’t.

The age old formula for success: You’ve got to spend money to make money applies to self publishing your books. Oh, one last thought: promoting your book doesn’t start on your pub date, it should start 3-6 months before publication. Traditional publishers begin even earlier; in-house marketing departments begin promoting 6–9 months before pub date. This is what the self publishing tribe of authors are competing against; an industry that has been doing this work since the early 1900’s.

Self publishing your book is neither easy nor free so make sure your story is so damn compelling that once it is published, the Pros in traditional publishing will say to each other “ Damn, we missed this one.”

Click here to download a sample of Deadly Little Secrets and decide for yourself if this KDP e-novel is worth $5.99

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MARLA MILLER

Writer/Author/WorkshopLeader @ SoCa.WritersConf. & SantaBarbaraWritersConf, www.MarlaMiller.com I&T: @writersmama https://linktr.ee/Writersmama , Psych RN,MSN