Thoughts on Self-Publishing my First Novel

After several years of false starts, I just self-published my first romance novel, Heartbroken Heights. The ebook is available now on Amazon for purchase or borrowing through Kindle Unlimited, and free advance review copies are available on Booksprout for a limited time only.

You know, I thought I would feel relieved after I published my book. Writing it took me way longer than it should have. Editing was a slow and frustrating process. Designing the cover took hours of messing around with different images and ideas, and I still don’t love what I ended up with—I definitely should have hired someone to design it for me, but I was determined to handle everything alone for this first book.

I should be relieved. However, I’m starting to realize that I feel just as jittery and nervous-excited as before. Jittery because I know I need to find more ways to market my book, and nervous-excited because while I’m excited to have published a book, I’m nervous that my book won’t do well.

The result of jittery and nervous-excited is that I’m having trouble focusing on my next projects. I’m still in Heartbroken-Heights mode when I need to switch gears and move to next-book-here-we-come mode. However, I’m going to humor myself a little longer and talk about a couple things I learned over the course of getting this book published.

Don’t worry about what other people are going to think! I don’t mean that you shouldn’t keep your audience in mind. Absolutely do that. I do mean that you shouldn’t let the fear of your family or friends reading your romance novels stop you from writing them. Heartbroken Heights was originally supposed to be a sexy, steamy Delilah Miller novel, but I changed my mind partway through, cost myself a lot of time and kept it clean instead. Write what you want!

Check your Amazon novel description for HTML formatting! I’m pretty decent with HTML, so I decided I would be cute and smart and skip the formatting check. As a result, there’s one blank line where I don’t want a blank line. There are tons of free online HTML editors where you can paste your description and see it as it will appear once published. If you see something you want to fix after you publish (like a blank line…), you have to go through the entire process of resubmitting your novel’s information and Amazon has to verify it again. Don’t be cute and smart like me.

Amazon’s up-to-72-hour reviewing process may not take 72 hours. I knew that, but I didn’t know that my novel would be made available for purchase less than three hours after I submitted it. That came as a surprise, and it threw off my already-tentative marketing strategy. I still don’t know what determines how quickly a novel hits Amazon’s digital bookshelves. I also can’t remember for the life of me if there was an option to delay publishing until a specific date after the book was approved. If anyone has any insight, I would love to hear it!

Keywords? Keywords? Keywords were something I hadn’t realized were a part of publishing a novel through Kindle Direct Publishing. I thought the friendly little algorithm working behind the scenes to deliver the best search results to readers relied on the title, subtitle and description of a novel alone. I was incorrect. KDP lets you choose up to seven key words. It might seem like a small thing to mention here, but it was one more surprise in a series of surprises, and it set me back half an hour or so.

You’ll have to choose whether or not to enroll your novel in KDP Select. I also knew this, but there’s so much to think about when self-publishing a book that I forgot about it. I chose to enroll my novel in KDP Select and take advantage of the benefits. In the future, I may change my mind. If you don’t know how KDP Select works, this is the blog post I read to help me make my decision. It has a lovely, concise explanation of the program and why it may or may not work for you.

Think about your chapters’ word counts. I like to write and read long chapters (long in this instance being 2500-3000 words), but not everyone does. After I finished writing my book, I was clicking around Amazon and looking at different romance ebooks, and I noticed that many have very short chapters—around 1000-1500 words, maybe. Books can have the same number of words, but radically different numbers of chapters. Which is better? Do attention spans play a part? I don’t know yet, but it’s something I know that I have to think about moving forward.

These are just a few of the little things I learned during the process of publishing my book. They are in no particular order and they aren’t meant to be a complete list (or any list, really). They are just things that struck me as I went through the process, and hopefully one them helped you or even just got you thinking!


Looking for ARC readers!

Do you like to read romance? Do you like free books? We may be able to help each other! I’m looking for people to be part of my advance review team. You get free copies of my new releases in exchange for honest reviews. If you’re interested, email me at franks.fiction@gmail.com !

Published by Dale Franks

Author, ghostwriter, blogger, freelancer

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