When you self-publish a book, the work isn’t done when you finish writing it, and finally manage to publish it. About half of the work involved in the self-publishing process is still ahead of you: promoting your book.
When I wrote and self-published The Vegan Tourist: Vienna (and a German-language edition, The Vegan Tourist: Wien), I knew that this book would never be a best-seller. It’s a restaurant guide for vegetarians and vegans visiting the City of Vienna. That’s a very small target audience, and I knew that I would never be able to count on book royalties from The Vegan Tourist: Vienna as a means of income. But I didn’t care. I started writing the book shortly after I became a vegan myself, after 29 years of living as a vegetarian. I wanted to learn about the various (non-food) aspects of veganism, and explore everything the city had to offer for vegans. Since I was doing all this research anyway, I decided to write a book about it as well.
I decided on self-publishing early on, before I wrote a single word. During a business trip to New York City, I bought books about self-publishing, and the whole process immediately appealed to me. I like learning new things, doing them step-by-step, and I don’t mind making mistakes along the way. I decided to self-publish through Amazon’s Create Space platform, and loved the whole process. I plan on writing many more books, and plan to self-publish every single one of them.
But as I pointed out at the beginning, you’re not done when you finally manage to publish your book. Self-promoting it is a huge part of the whole publishing process, and I am only just beginning. I’ve learned everything I needed to know about self-publishing, now I need to learn about self-promoting books on the Internet. I am impressed (and a bit intimidated) by all the options available to me.
The Vegan Tourist: Vienna has such a specific target audience, anyone who searches for “vegan Vienna” or “vegetarian Vienna” on Amazon, will immediately find my book. It comes up as the first search result (or nearly first, if you type “vegetarian”), and everyone searches for books on Amazon these days. Vegans, who are looking for a restaurant guide about Vienna, will find my book, guaranteed.
So my self-promotion efforts aren’t primarily aimed at this particular book. I am using The Vegan Tourist: Vienna to learn about the whole online promotion process while I write my next book, which is a work of fiction. By the time I finish my second book (in about a year, I hope), I should have a Press & Public Relations plan all worked out – something I am lacking right now.
Self-publishing a book is a lot of work, and if you are not prepared to learn every single aspect of it, and do all the work yourself, I wouldn’t recommend it. Are you just starting out? Are you writing the very first words of your first book? Learn now how you can best promote it, not after you finish writing it. Do not underestimate the time and effort necessary for this step of the self-publishing process. My advice would be to set aside as much time for promotion efforts as you use to write your book.