Lessons I’ve Learned

What an interesting time this has been. When I started on this publishing journey last year, I never imagined getting such a great response to The Mixtape to My Life. This week especially has been a wild ride. I have to say that my eyes have opened to a lot things, which is why I decided I would write about the lessons I’ve learned throughout this extremely joyful, stressful, and ultimately satisfying process.

It’s Okay for People to Not Like Your Book

This is the most important lesson I think I’ve learned from all this. We all know that reviews help sell books. That’s why I submitted my book to two review sites (ones similar to Kirkus but way more affordable) and to Netgally via a co-op program from Xpresso Book Tours. When you do this, the one thing to keep in mind is that you(might (as in probably) will get negative reviews. All books have them, even some of your faves. But it’s okay. Stressing over them won’t do you any good. It will sting, believe me, but you have to remember that the reviews aren’t necessarily for you; they are for readers to make an informed decision on your book. Bad reviews aren’t always a death sentence, and sometimes they actually do contain info that will help you along the way. If someone wants your book, they will buy it.

Reach Out to Other Authors

One thing that I’m really glad I did was reach out to other authors via social media. I like using Twitter and Instagram, but you can use what you feel will work best for your own personal strategy. Initially, I reached out for blurbs, but what I got in return was so much more. We are all in the same boat, and the advice and encouragement I’ve received from authors such as Julian Winters, Chase Conners, Chris Bedell, and Dylan James has helped me navigate this process with a lot more confidence than I thought I had.

Please note: if you are reaching out for blurbs, check their author sites first to see if there is a specific process. Some only take the requests through agents, while others use contact forms. Never just reach out via a tweet.

Have Your Marketing Plan Ready Early On

Writer’s go with indie publishers for a variety of reasons. It has many advantages, however the one where it takes more work is marketing. They (such as Deep Hearts YA, the publisher that took a chance on me) will do their best to get the word out, but you will also have to make sure you are shouting about your book from the rooftops in order for it to get noticed. Almost every site you go to will have a strategy, and while some things will work for you, others won’t. Here is what I tried:

  1. Set up this site for free on WordPress.
  2. Got more active on Instagram and Twitter.
  3. Set up a Spotify playlist. (check those out by going to the link above or the Spotify icon below).
  4. Blogged at least once a week.
  5. Started following similar authors.
  6. Signed up with Xpresso Book Tours for their Netgalley package.
  7. Set up a book blitz with YA Bound Book Tours.
  8. Set up a spotlight post/interview with YA Books Central.
  9. Submitted a guest post to LGBTQ Reads.
  10. Contacted similar authors to see if they would be willing to provide a blurb.
  11. Contacted podcasts such as the Big Gay Fiction Podcast to see if they were interested in reviewing my book.

All of this took a lot of time and effort (and yes, some money of my own) to do, but in the end I think it was worth it. Now, not everyone is able to pay for some of these services, and that’s fine. You can actually contact blogs on your own and see if they will let you post about your book. Plus, there are plenty of review sites that are free, it may just take a lot longer to get someone to give an unbiased review. The services I chose had good reviews and were priced well within the minimal budget I set for myself.

While I’ve certainly learned a lot, I know there is still more lessons out there to soak in. What I do know for sure is that I love writing, and feel confident enough to give put more books out there.

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