You are. Never forget that as a self-published author who published on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and/or Kobo that you are 100 percent in control of your work. A comma doesn’t get moved without your say-so.
What Is a Self-Published Author?
For the purposes of this article, a self-published author is an author that published their fiction or non-fiction works directly to the platforms where they are selling them. In other words, they personally uploaded their novels and covers to Amazon, Barnes and Noble and/or Kobo etc themselves without any assistance from a 3rd party publisher.
The Mindset: Think for Success
You are the author, publisher, designer, creative inspiration behind your books. Always remember that. Make it a mantra if you need to, because your books don’t get written and published without you. I feel like some authors get lost in self-doubt, wondering if anyone will buy their books, read their books and love their books. The truth is that not everyone is going to love your book or your author style, but not everyone loves those mega-bestsellers either. If you need a reminder, just take a gander at any super popular book and read the one and two star reviews.
The truth is that the only person you need to please when writing your book is you. If you love it, chances are good that someone else will love it. If you do get a bad review once you publish, pat yourself on the back, you’re actually into the people who don’t like your work VS. the people that bought it because they like your work. You’re expanding your audience!
You Are a Business, Whether You Believe It or Not
Butbutbutbut I’m just writing for fun, you say! I’m just writing it for me. I don’t care if I make any money! The minute you publish and start earning royalties, you will pay taxes on the money you earned from your books. You are a business, and your employee is you. Specifically, you’re a sole-proprietorship, and trust me, Amazon and all those other book publishing platforms will send you a 1099 (if you’re in the US. I’m not sure how it works in other countries) that lists your royalty income, and you will have to input that amount on your tax forms. You’re a business. Remember that because it needs to be part of your author mindset.
You Control Your Message
Once you start thinking about yourself as a business, many call it being an authorprenuer, you can start to think about your message and how you want that message delivered. You are answering the questions:
Who are you as an author?
What do I write?
What do I want my audience to know?
Where am I going to deliver my message?
For many authors, the message is going to be delivered via an author website and social media. You may also eventually take out book ads or create advertising campaigns. Your message is going to be whatever you do as an author. For myself, I provide writing tips and tricks and various publishing and marketing information, along with all my published works to date. If you are a horror writer, maybe your message is everything horror, but sit down and think about what you do and what you can offer your readers and your general author audience. You have something to offer, you just need to think about it and make sure your message is one you want to convey.
You Control How You Interact
Since you are an author and an individual, many people will treat you like a person. That’s fine, but you need to keep your interactions professional, even if you’re dealing with someone who wants to change how you do things or worse - sell you something. These are the people stating that you need to buy this or you need this service or I didn’t like X so you need to change it! You are the final say-so on everything you do or purchase for your books. You don’t need to do or buy shit because this Joe Blow over here said you need to do it. You don’t have an unlimited expense account. Sure, you can write off all your book expenses, but just let me tell you, the write-off is less than what you actually paid. It’s like looking at a coupon or sale and realizing you can’t afford the sale. You may not be able to afford that write-off either. With that being said, always act professionally. If you feel like the individual is a real person, go ahead and thank them for bringing their product or advice to your attention. If you feel like it’s spam or scam, no response is needed.
You Control Who You Hire
Let’s say you get into a position where you can actually hire that editor or cover designer or X service for your book. Before you hire anyone, remember to do your research. Ask for samples. Make sure to clarify what you are purchasing and get quotes. Regardless of what you purchase, it still has to fit within your budget and be the service you need. If you don’t like the answers, you don’t have to hire that individual or company. Don’t succumb to high-pressure sales tactics or buying something because someone else told you that you needed it. You know what you need. You know your budget.
You Control Who Sees Your Book Before It’s Published
Once your book is nearing completion, you control who reads the draft versions. You can enlist the help of beta readers, just make sure you know who they are. You can enlist the help of people to do free and paid book critiques. (Most book critiques are paid, but you may find someone who’s just looking for something to do.) You can hire editors if you like, but the bottom line is that you control who sees your nearly finished manuscript. If you do this, make it a short list and write down their names and when they received the draft copy.
You Control Where You Publish
You control the platforms where you publish. Most authors choose Amazon, but there are many others, including Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple Books and even Google Play books. Good luck getting into those last two. They are a real PITA. The flip side of that is that you control where you remain published. If you decide you don’t like a particular publishing platform, you can remove your books from sale on that platform. I do it all the time. Sometimes I want to be in Kindle Unlimited. This means I remove the ebooks from the sales catalogue Barnes and Noble and Kobo. (That doesn’t mean I delete them. I unpublish them so they are not for sale.) Sometimes I don’t like Kindle Unlimited, so I release the ebooks for sale on other platforms.
You Control Who Receives PDF Copies for Reviews
You control who receives the free PDFs for reviews on websites and Goodreads. If someone asks you for a review copy, you have the option to provide one or not. You can decline. I decline review requests all the time, usually for not following directions. I need the title of the book and an email address where I can send the PDF. You’d be surprised how many people can’t provide that information. Of course, you don’t control reviews where the person bought the book.
The other thing you don’t control is who buys your book after it’s published. I mean the entire goal is to sell books. You can target your advertising campaigns to a specific audience type, like if you sell YA or children’s books, your audience would be parents and children. If you sell Romance, your audience would be Romance readers, but as a whole, once you publish, you don’t control who visits your book product pages and who buys your books, and that’s okay. You don’t want to control that. You want to maximize book sales.