4 Self-Publishing Lessons Learned While Finishing ‘The Strategic Marketer’
I can happily say I recently published my first book! The Strategic Marketer: Effective, Low-Cost, And Practical Marketing Strategies from the Agency Trenches officially launched on the Poetica Marketing website on September 24, 2021. (Get your copy here!)
It was the conclusion to weeks and weeks of careful research, diligent notetaking, endless writing, countless revisions, and bottomless cups of coffee.
I hadn’t expected to get emotional at any point in the ordeal (I already have hundreds of byline credits after years of writing professionally) but opening that box and holding that first copy in my hands…
I felt a great sense of pride well up inside me.
Holding your book for the first time is a powerful experience. You’ve accomplished something few people ever will!
But as I started sending out copies to the people who’d been so instrumental in writing my book, I began reviewing the entire experience in my head.
What did I do right? And, more importantly, What could I have done better?
Quite, a lot, I quickly realized.
It really got me thinking about everything I’ve learned while self-publishing my first book.
Self-Publishing Lessons To Keep In Mind
Here are a few recommendations I have for anyone who’s interested in self-publishing their own book:
1. Set hard deadlines. I’ve always been good with deadlines. Even back in high school, if we had a paper due in two weeks, I’d finish it in one—just so I could have it off of my to-do list (and to give myself some extra time to review it).
Once I decided to go full-force with my book, I settled on a writing deadline of August 25 so I could get the book to my proofreader/editor.
I then gave my proofreader/editor a September 11 deadline so I could submit the book to the printer and have it back by September 25, the date of Party on the Mount (a big block party and marketing event for businesses in Poetica Marketing’s neighborhood).
None of those deadlines were necessarily problematic for me or my proofreader/editor, but I did get into a little bit of trouble allowing my submission deadline to strike so closely to Party on the Mount. Fortunately, I managed the avert the crisis before any serious damage was done (as I explained in a LinkedIn article).
2. Have a dedicated team around you. I was somewhat fortunate in my self-publishing journey, as there were many things I could do on my own. With years of writing and editorial experience, I was comfortable doing much of the heavy proofreading and editorial lifting on my own.
And years of being around designers and working within Photoshop equipped me with the skills to create a book cover that is, while admittedly Spartan, also something that fits the Poetica Marketing brand.
Still, there were places I needed a hand.
While I’m a relatively strong writer, I’m the first to admit my weaknesses, so I asked a dear friend and fellow editorial colleague to assist in honing my pages. And when we encountered a serious issue with our deadline, I tapped another friend and author to help fill in.
I was fortunate to have excellent editors whose opinions I trusted alongside me.
Thanks to my experiences in InDesign and similar editorial programs, I was also comfortable managing my own layout for the project. But that’s an area where many people struggle, especially when it comes to preparing content for print. Some print services will even offer layout as a service—for hundreds of dollars more (which some people may struggle to find the budget for).
Depending on your own skills and bandwidth, you may need:
- A proofreader
- An editor
- A designer
- A marketer
- A publicist
If you’re still at the beginning of your self-publishing journey, assemble this team before moving any further. If you’ve already started your journey, make this action item a top priority.
3. Get ready for a significant marketing lift. Of course, writing your book is only half the challenge of getting your book out there. If you’re self-publishing, that means you’re also on the hook for:
- Updating your website so people can buy copies (if you choose to sell there).
- Blogging in support of your book.
- Running social media campaigns to hype up the project and final product.
- Coordinating email blasts to your subscribers.
- Organizing press releases and coverage of your book.
There’s a lot to keep track of, and I’ll admit I didn’t always keep up as well as I could have.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I had a plan. Six weeks before the books arrived, I sat down and outlined everything I wanted to do. I sketched up social media posts, took notes for future emails, and even earmarked chapters I wanted to offer previews of through the Poetica Marketing blog.
But then things got busy. As client deadlines stacked up, I neglected some of my own marketing objectives.
What I ended up with was a mixed bag of marketing pushes for my book—something that wouldn’t have happened if I’d simply buckled down one afternoon, wrote everything I needed, and scheduled it all for later.
4. Prepare for the post-show blues. Here’s something I hadn’t expected: In the days following the book’s completion, I found I suddenly had a ton of extra time on my hands.
Those awkward 25 minutes in between meetings where it’s not quite enough time to start anything? Wide open. That quiet time in the evening after I finish work and before my wife gets home? Unoccupied. Those sleepy Saturday mornings I’d gotten into the habit of dedicating to long-form content? Left to be sleepy on other projects.
Knocking out an entire book takes a ton of work, and finishing it up is a little like stepping off stage; the big rush is over, and now you have to fill the void.
Sure, it was amazing cracking open the box and seeing hard copies of my book for the first time, but it was, in many ways, the final period at the end of the final chapter.
I’ll still market the book, but the heaviest lift of the creative process is over.
That can be difficult for some people to deal with. If you’re struggling with it, recognize that you essentially finished a mental marathon. It’s absolutely OK to take a break after the work you put in.
Self-publishing is a wild, terrifying, exciting, fulfilling ordeal. If you have questions about it, contact us to learn more!