This Week in Self-Publishing: What Else Should I Be Doing Right Now?

Money earned (total): $7,392.11

Money spent (total): $3,496.31

Book sales (last month): $350.40

Money spent (this week): $0

First: my Goodreads Giveaway is live, and you can enter to win one of five signed copies of The Biographies of Ordinary People. (The entry period ends on Monday, June 26.)

794 people have entered the giveaway as of this writing, which I find kind of astounding. I mean, some of them have to be bots, right? And some of them probably enter every giveaway. But many of them might actually be interested in my book, which is… you know, everything that’s happened so far, from the book launch at Phinney Books to the reviews people have left on Amazon and Goodreads to the chance to meet the Pronoun team in New York, has been amazing. Now all of these people are signing up to win a free copy of my book, when I thought maybe 100 people might do it.

Everything is going well. So what else should I be doing right now?


When I say that “everything is going well,” I don’t mean that I’m getting every opportunity I go after. I’ve sent my book to a few reviewers who haven’t responded. I couldn’t get a reading set up in NYC, and I’m still working on getting one set up in Portland. (Yes, I asked Powell’s, and yes, they turned me down.)

But then I see the feedback from people who have read the book, the reviews and the Facebook comments, and I can only think “everything is going well.” Because people are connecting with the book, and enjoying it, and engaging critically with it. They’re understanding what I set out to write; there’s no disconnect between what I hoped to do with this book and what readers are experiencing when they read it.

Which, of course, makes me want to get the book in front of as many readers as possible. (Especially readers in my target audience, which is essentially “Millennials who grew up loving Little Women and Anne of Green Gables and wished they could be part of that kind of story.”)

I’ve sold 37 ebooks and 35 paperbacks so far this month, and I’m still getting near-daily sales but they’ve started to slow down just slightly, which means I need another way to get my book out there, drop its name in a place where readers might read it.

And I’m making near-daily attempts. This week I submitted Biographies to the Seattle Book Review (different from the Seattle Review of Books) and to Self-E; even though I already have library distribution through OverDrive and Bibliotheca, requesting additional library distribution through Self-E means that Library Journal will consider my book for review and my book will automatically be submitted to the Self-E State Collection so libraries in Washington State will have access to it.

I’m also continuing to pitch book bloggers and reviewers, and I’m trying to figure out how far to go with this; I’ve discovered that you can in fact just send your book to Fresh Air or to The New York Times, although what they do with it after it arrives is up to them. And sure, you can say “well, is your book good enough,” and then I can counter with a quote from one of my readers:

I also loved this novel because I identified so strongly with Meredith—I’m amazed someone else can understand and articulate how she lives in her own head and observes/analyzes/self-edits like I did as a child (and still do).

I’ve been saying from the very beginning that I know my book is good. It’s also different enough from other books, in terms of topic/scope/style—not to mention the self-pub aspect and the “I funded it through Patreon” aspect—that it could have the opportunity to stand out, if I could figure out how to help make it stand out.

(Occasionally I think about hiring a publicist, though it might be a little late in the game for that.)

I only have a few months left to really focus on promoting Biographies Vol. 1; in September, I’ll need to fully focus on revising Biographies Vol. 2. (Which, by the way, EVERY REVIEWER has said they want to read.) My mind is already ahead of me, jumping back into the characters’ worlds, generating ideas right before I fall asleep that turn into scribbled notes that I have to decipher in the morning.

But there are a whole list of things I still want to do with Vol. 1. For starters: people keep asking if my book is in bookstores (and keep making special trips to Phinney Books just to buy it from an indie bookstore, which I love), so I could be working harder on bookstore distribution.

I could also be working harder on booking events. My Seattle readers who missed the Phinney Books event want me to do another reading. I’ve talked to a few friends about readings in Los Angeles and Juneau but haven’t moved forward on either of those.

There is also the faintest possibility of an audiobook, which I know people want, but which will take more time than I have to give right now.

Honestly, the best way to make all of those things happen would be to get more sales/more reviews/more attention, the kind of attention that will force my hand and say “the best thing you can do with your time is cut back on your freelance work and get that audiobook done.” And I can ask for reviews without leaving the apartment, except in the cases where the reviewers require a mailed paperback copy.

So I guess I’ll keep pitching reviewers and trying to do online promotion, while squeezing in-person events when and where I can.

Or… what else should I be doing right now? Suggestions are always welcome. ❤

 

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