Note: YA – abbreviation for Young Adult
I still can’t believe that I can say that my debut novel, a YA music book called The Hush Society Presents… is a #1 New Release on Amazon’s Teen and Young Adult Music eBooks category.
At the beginning of the year, when I sat down to reflect on what I wanted to achieve this year and select my top goals, I listed “Get on Amazon’s Best-Seller list when I self-publish The Hush Society Presents…”
The Hush Society Presents… is a contemporary YA music story about friendship and pursuing one’s dreams.
Achieving this goal is another one of my pinch-me-moments in life–just like when I was finally able to go full-time with my blog.
Some days, it feels unreal that I can say that my book ranked as a #1 New Release and even a #5 best-seller at one point.
I guess it’s because after working on this book for more than a decade, it feels weird to not be working on the book anymore.
But it’s a sign that good things come to those who preserve and refuse to give up on their dreams.
I touched on this subject during my virtual book launch when I had a person tell me that maybe I wasn’t finding a literary agent because it was time to give up and write another novel.
Watch my virtual book launch here:
While I know that that person was telling me that with good intentions, imagine if I had given up!
I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today and I definitely wouldn’t be able to do a virtual book launch for my YA music story and debut novel, The Hush Society Presents…
Related: 5 Ideas for a Virtual Book Launch
One of the ways for me to document also process everything is to write this post.
I want to share with you my publishing process and what I did so that in the hopes that if you would like to publish your ebook as one of the products in your blog or one of the ways to monetise, you can refer to this guide.
Okay, so how exactly did my book become a number #1 New Release?
There are several things I believe contributed to this.
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I didn’t give in to rejection. I kept persevering.
Rejections are a part of life; and unfortunately, for a writer, rejection is a part of the journey.
We’re told it’s not easy to get into the traditional publishing landscape.
There are many gatekeepers.
You have to find someone who believes in you and your story as much as you do–or maybe even more than you!
But to be honest, there was a time I even wondered if I should keep on pursuing publication because I had received negative feedback about my book.
So much so that it made me question if I was a good writer and if I should scrap the story.
I felt so bad that I couldn’t touch my manuscript nor continue querying for months.
So I allowed myself to feel those feelings, but after some time I told myself that it was an opportunity to improve my story and improve as a writer.
I edited my book some more and even hired a beta reader to get more feedback on my YA music story.
RELATED: My Writing Journey
I invested in writing resources
Before looking for a beta reader, I invested in hiring an editor to help me improve my book.
And it was a huge investment especially since I was earning in a different currency (not USD!) but I knew it would be worth it since the editor I had hired had loads of experience editing YA novels and had even worked for Simon and Schuster.
Later on, I also commissioned one of my good friends to create my book cover.
And when I decided that I wanted to self-publish, I bought a book to help me with my marketing process, specifically the Your Ultimate Guide To A Powerful Book Launch ebook.
And it paid off well!
Need help promoting your book? Check out Your Ultimate Guide to a Powerful Book Launch.
I created an action plan
For a successful launch, I referred to the strategies within the Your Ultimate Guide To A Powerful Book Launch ebook especially on how I would be able to promote my book.
I also tapped my existing network and friends who had helped me out during my Swoon Reads days.
A couple of years ago, I messaged a lot of my contacts one-on-one to ask their help in reading and leaving a review of my book on SwoonReads.com, a crowd-sourcing platform where every quarter they choose unpublished manuscripts to publish under an imprint of McMillan.
I created a book club where I approached the same people from before, and of course, my newer friends to help me promote my book as I self-published it.
I also decided that during my launch week I would run a free book promo on Amazon kindle, so this meant that from the 2nd to the 6th day of my book release, people could download my book free.
And the more people that would download my book, the better my rankings on Amazon.
Another thing I did was to take my book club and audience on a journey with me by posting updates about my YA music book weekly.
I halted my blog and business content and focused more on putting out content about my book to warm up my audience.
Here are some of my learnings during the self-publishing process:
- While I had some challenges figuring out how to set up the free book promotion, choosing to put my book up for pre-order helped me to start ranking already. Books on pre-order already rank, so the more people that pre-ordered, the higher my rank! That’s one of the reasons why even after a few days since putting my book up for pre-order, it ranked as a #1 New Release and a #7 in the best-seller list for the Teen and Young Adult music ebook category
- If you want to run a free promotion, you can only do it on the second day of your book release because you can only apply for the free promotion once the book is out on Amazon. That means that if I wanted my free book promo to start on Feb 21, I had to move up my release date by 1 day, which was on Feb 20.
- It’s imperative to check the formatting of your ebook. Justify your text, check the spacings and page breaks. If you’re using Apple Pages, export as epub then convert the file to MOBI. I used an online converter then I opened the file on my Kindle to double-check. And then after I did my edits, I checked it again on my Kindle and proofread the book again to check that I didn’t accidentally delete anything
- I included copyright, cover design credits, disclaimer, and also content warnings/triggers in my ebook
Now that my book is out, my current strategy is to increase the visibility of my book and reaching out to media outlets for features.
Aside from that, I agreed to do many virtual talks to promote my book.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to be asked to give various talks and promote my book to my target audience.
I made opportunities happen for me.
For years I couldn’t find a literary agent.
If I did receive any replies, they were all rejections.
Agents would usually say that either the book wasn’t the right fit for them or that they were working on a book too similar to mine, so they had to decline.
When the pandemic hit, I still wanted to publish my book and several people had suggested self-publishing, so I gave it a lot of thought.
I’d known about self-publishing for years, but I had always held on to the dream of being traditionally published because 1) with a literary agent there’s a possibility that your book can be turned into a movie or tv show and 2) if your book is published by a huge publishing house, then imagine how they’ll be able to promote your book globally.
But now that the world has changed so much, I wasn’t sure if paperback books were a good idea during a global pandemic.
A lot of things have gone digital, so I thought that it was a good time to seize the opportunity to self-publish as well.
But before I took the plunge, I reflected on it and reviewed if I would be able to handle the process of self-publishing
So I decided to take matters into my own hands.
Need help promoting your book? Check out Your Ultimate Guide to a Powerful Book Launch.
I chose the right categories for my book
This is where the power of niching down comes into play.
On one hand, some of the categories are super niched in terms of looking for agents who represent or like YA music stories.
But on the other hand, there is less competition as well, at least in terms of Amazon rankings.
When you first set up your book for publishing on Amazon Kindle, you’ll notice how limited the category choices are.
I remember feeling frustrated that it was so hard to find the categories I wanted (Teen & Young Adult Music ebook, Road Trip Books) in the original selection.
But it’s just not there during the set-up.
It was only once my book was live on the Amazon page and available for pre-order that I could add the additional categories.
And this can only be done by emailing Amazon and asking them to add my book to the specific categories.
But being able to put my book in the right categories helped with my ranking as well!
I hope that sharing my learnings with you on how I was able to self-publish my book inspires you and serves as a guide for aspiring published authors.
Have you ever self-published or want to self-publish a book on Amazon?