Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started Self-Publishing: Indie Authors Share their Insights

If there’s one thing I love about the indie author community, it’s the sense of community and camaraderie. Thanks to a handful of supportive and generous indie authors, I’ve got some great insights to share with you – straight from them, for your benefit.

This post is a must-bookmark as this information is invaluable, especially if you are a novice indie author about to embark on the wide-world of self-publishing. Learn from their mistakes and you’ll be ahead of the game!


1. “I wish I’d known it’s never too early to start promoting yourself” – Dina Silver, One Pink Line


It’s important to create not only buzz about your book, but a network of support prior to the launch of your book. When author Dina Silver launched her book, One Pink Line, she found she had to work extra hard to get it noticed and took her months to foster relationships with bloggers, readers and other authors.

Take away nugget: Get your name and brand out “there” now by reaching out to bloggers and writers who share your genre and build a rapport.  Support other’s books and writing and they just might do the same for you.


2. “I published too quickly without a solid marketing plan.” – Samantha March, Destined to Fail


There’s a lot to be said for having a marketing plan in place before you publish your book. Not only will this help optimize book sales, it will keep you on track for strategic promotional opportunities and successes.

Take away nugget: Don’t let the excitement of publishing get in the way of a strategic plan.


3. “It’s easy to overspend on your first book.” – Lauren Clark, Stay Tuned, Dancing Naked in Dixie


So you’ve decided to self-publish, congrats! While self-publishing lends itself well to giving the author control over his/her own sales and marketing, it can be tough to know exactly how much to spend. Indie author, Lauren Clark suggests prioritizing your needs (a great cover, formatting and editing) and set a budget before handing over any money.

Take away nugget: Shop around, compare prices and quality and don’t take advice from the first person who hands it to you. This is your book and your hard work.  Be sure your funding is being well-spent.


4. “I wish I knew more about the publishing process” – Jeff Bennington, Twisted Vengeance, Reunion, Creepy


Author Jeff Bennington says, “I signed on with “one of those vanity presses and paid thousands of dollars to publish my book, only to discover I wasted my money.” Bennington didn’t appreciate how the publishing house charged him for things he didn’t need like uploading his book to Amazon and marketing coaching. In hindsight, what Bennington really wanted was a professional editor, a custom cover, a catchy blurb and good ebook formatting.

Take away nugget: Spend your money where it matters. Prioritize your budget based on your goals with your book. Figure out whom to subcontract important projects to and take care of the things you already know how to do and manage yourself.


5. “Get paperbacks for your books.” – Robert B. Lowe, Project Moses


Yes, paying for paperbacks for your books might seem pricey and in the world of Kindles and e-readers, might seem inconsequential, but having actual hard copies of your books will go a long way in helping you promote your book. It’s helpful to start at your base – where your live – to use at local bookstore signing and giving to friends and family. The additional up front cost is usually minor.

Take away nugget: Even though you might be selling your book almost exclusively online, get paperbacks printed. You will need them for marketing and, above all, it’s great for your morale!


6. “It’s never too early to build your author platform” – Ingrid Ricks, Hippie Boy, A Little Book of Mormon & Not So Mormon Stories


Before publishing her first book, author Ingrid Rocks landed herself and agent. “I thought my job was over until that agent told me that without a strong author platform, I could kiss my publishing chances goodbye.” An author platform is your brand, how you reach current and potential readers. This can be through blogging, being a guest blogger, writing for various publications and websites – all ways to reach readers you may not have otherwise.


Take away nugget: Try using open submission platforms such as Open Salon and Scribd to share your writing and connect with readers, the earlier the better.

7. “I didn’t realize how time consuming marketing was.” – Kate O’Mara, Inspiration: Write Every Day.


Yup, successful marketing takes time, both in planning and execution, because as we all know, without marketing your book, no one will know they need to read it!


Take away nugget: Develop a supportive group of co-working authors to cross-promote each other’s work. This is a great way to reach new readers and encourage each other with new projects.


8. “I should have gotten involved in social media before I published my book.” – Giacomo Giammatteo, Murder Takes Time


By the time author Giacomo Giammatteo published his book, felt behind the eight-ball. “I had no Twitter account. I think I had about a dozen Facebook friends and no other social media presence.” After recognizing social media could be doing wonders for his book sales, Giammatteo worked on strengthening his network.

Take away nugget: It’s never too early to get your author platform and social media presence established. A good network will do wonders for your book and career as an author.

Now over to you… what do you wish you’d known before embarking on your publishing journey? And if you’re a newbie author, which of these insights has been most helpful to you? Leave a comment!

Laura Pepper Wu is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio. She has worked with a variety of authors to successfully promote their books, including many Amazon best-sellers. Laura is the author of wedding non-fiction guides and book marketing guides 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!

Laura also runs Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. When she's not working at the studio, you can find her walking her dog, "yoga-ing" or at a coffee shop in Seattle.


  • Diane Dettmann

    Great “wish I’d knowns”! As an author, wish I’d known how to deal with a bad online review. Seems you can have twenty plus 5 stars, and the negative one is the review that fills your head with self doubt! Suggestions on how to move onward and upward? Thanks, Laura, for all your support and helpful information.

  • Tyler

    “Get paperbacks for your books.” I’m surprised at how many book lovers don’t have any kind of e-reader, but I don’t even know where to begin ordering paperbacks. Is there a good place to start and is there any truth to the rumor that amazon is working on a way for any ebook to be available for print on demand soon?

  • laurapepwu

    Diane, you’re so right. I hope this article helps you realize you’re not alone!

  • laurapepwu

    Tyler, it’s SUPER easy! Amazon has been offering POD for several years – they bought CreateSpace. You can do it through your KDP account, or directly through

  • Tyler

    Oh awesome! Thanks for the tip, my first book is going to be on KDP in 2 weeks, I was hoping that might be an option someday, didn’t know it already is one! :)

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  • kimanzi constable

    These are such great tips and I would be light years ahead of where I am now if I had known them :)

  • LPepWu

    :) You’re doing prety a-okay, Kimanzi!

  • Lauren Clark

    Great post and all wonderful takeaways … Wish I had been aware of ALL of them before I jumped into the publishing world feet first!! :) xx, Lauren

  • Christa Simpson

    I’ve just experienced my first blow. Ouch. I too wonder how to protect or prepare my fellow new authors from suffering the same pain. I’ll be checking out that link. Thanks for the post Laura. :)

  • laurapepwu

    You’re very welcome.

  • David Erickson

    Many good points here.

  • TSDaniel01

    This article was very insightful seeing as I am indeed a newbie at writing. What to do with my manuscript once I have completed a story will be MY next step. Unfortunately there is no set guideline to self-publishing seeing as what works for some, may not work for others. One thing for sure is that a following (almost cult like) presence is needed from a social media stand-point if one is ever to generate some sort of buzz, especially since everyone keeps their nose in their phones trolling Twitter etc.