Hi there! Duolit is on hiatus, but please feel free to explore our extensive archive of posts and our free Weekend Book Marketing Makeover. Thanks for visiting!

The Surprises of Self-Publishing: How to Roll with it and Still Kick Booty

The following is a guest post by Cara Alwill Leyba.

To say self-publishing feels a bit like the Wild West would be an understatement. After the gut-wrenching, obsessive decision to independently publish your work (should I just wait? What if I find an agent that can sell this? Am I ruining my career?), the real work begins.

I thought I had it all planned out. I had dates. I had launch parties lined up. I had blog tours scheduled. I was extremely neurotic organized.

And then Amazon published my book a month early.

You see, when you “approve” your book for sale in the Createspace platform, Amazon begins building out your sales page. This process can take anywhere from 3-4 weeks. Right. Try 8 hours!

I logged into my Createspace account the morning after I approved my book for sale to check on my Kindle conversion process, and I discovered that not only had my book gone “live” on Amazon, it had already started selling copies! I had to make a quick decision to either keep it “hush hush” or roll with it.

I chose to roll.

And you know what? By 3 pm that day, my book had climbed to the #1 spot in the “Happiness” category.

By deciding to ride the wave, my excitement and energy was literally jumping through the interwebs. I was all over Twitter and Facebook sharing my book with my fans. I emailed everyone I knew. I used every hash tag possible to reach other indie authors. I did an impromptu interview on my Blog Talk Radio show.

I had no time to be nervous; my book was published! In retrospect, Amazon’s little surprise party worked in my favor. My passion took the driver’s seat.

The best thing you can do to promote your book (aside from doing as much research as you possibly can and putting out the best possible version of your work) is to learn how to roll with the punches. Things are not going to go smoothly. There will be hiccups. There will be highs, and lows.

But, if you can allow your nerves to take a back seat, and let your passion drive, you will succeed.

Talk Back

So I want to know, how have you dealt with surprises self-publishing has thrown your way?


Cara Alwill Leyba is an author, radio host and certified wellness coach from NYC who empowers women to live their most effervescent lives and celebrate themselves. Cara’s breakout blog, TheChampagneDiet.com boasts a following of thousands of loyal readers and has been featured in a host of publications worldwide. Her book Sparkle: The Girl’s Guide to Living a Deliciously Dazzling, Wildly Effervescent, Kick-Ass Life is free on Kindle through 10/9!

  • Mella Noir

    I think sometimes, just being forced to “go with it” & adapt, makes the adventure even more fun! Certainly throws organization out the window 😉 Kudos, Cara! You accomplished you goal, and showed us that we don’t need to wait for anyone or anything to make our dreams a reality!! You can help so many people now follow your path and through this journey of self teaching now have your own publishing company. So now you can help others follow your journey. Sparkle on!!

  • Tracy_R_Atkins

    Self-Publishing is a big bag full of surprises! I had many misconceptions of how well thought out a lot of publishing platforms were. I assumed that you could control things like launch windows, pricing and even get some feedback or analytical data on sales. I also assumed that eBooks were much more sophisticated and technically capable than they were.

    I learned the hard way that you have little control over launch windows. Even trying to schedule a launch Week is nearly impossible. Every vendor has different timeframes and guidelines. All of them give you the worst-case scenarios. They tell you 8 weeks and it is 2, or 10, or… Well, you had that experience yourself.

    Pricing can be an enigma. They give you all of these calculators for POD or eBook, and you really have a limited range that you can set a price to make anything. Worse, you don’t get much or any say in retailer margin, that is always subject to change. So you have to sometimes price your book with a nut-ball MSRP, to get it to sell at a reasonable price and profit after discounts.

    Finally, eBooks, even the latest kindle formats are prehistoric. Once I got into the guts of laying out and programming them, I found out just how limited they were. I mean, eBooks are essentially on the same level as HTML 2.0, with little support for the most valuable layout tags (nested tables anyone?).

    Sigh.. I could go on all day.. So yes, there are so many things that you plan on doing when Self Pubbing, but wind up not being able to do well.

  • Ok. This is difficult but…

    Actually, right now I am just breathing deep- I have just published my first children story in ebook format. Sent all the emais, FB messages, twitter… and I am find it difficult to cope with the fact that NONE of my close friends (and I mean CLOSE friends) have bought it and only 3 have share it. Same happened with my novel. (fans have bought it. I am building up the fans base) I wonder why. I buy, promote and share EVERYTHING THEY do.
    I asked a couple of them what is going on and I got very strange answers:
    I am waintig to get payed to buy it (its only 1.5 usd come on!)
    I am waiting for the printed version (I SAID ITS ONLY digital)
    I forgot…etc
    So yeah. I am sort of upset. Not that my marketing strategy is not working. Slowly, but working. Its just disturbing to me to see this happening. And to my surprise, several authors have share similar stories, so no idea… 😀

    • Hi Victoria! I’m so sorry to hear that you’re struggling. One of our indie friends, Yasmin actually had a similar experience when releasing her book, so check out her thoughts here. It’s definitely a difficult situation, but my advice is to hang in there and keep pushing through! Keep doing what works and forget the folks who aren’t on your side.

    • I agree with Toni. Focus on those who are on your side :)