ASP 41: Top 10 Self-Publishing Lessons We’ve Learned Along the Way

Quote of the day: “

Success is not a matter of getting it right every time. Success comes from continuing to persist until you eventually get it right.”

– Author Unknown

Scott and Barrie follow up the previous list of Top 10 Screw-Ups with their Top 10 Self-Publishing Lessons and Best Practices. Learn some of the most valuable actions you can take to ensure you don’t waste your time or miss important writing and marketing strategies.

The #10 Top Self-Publishing Lesson: Longer books don’t equal more sales. (Steve)

Steve used to only write 15K- to 20K-word books. But then he noticed that authors with shorter books sell more. As it turns out, readers like books that focus on specific topics.

In his own catalog, Steve noticed that his shorter books outsold his longer books. The lesson that he learned is that it’s a mistake to assume people want longer books. Longer books are in the 30K-word range and tend to focus on too broad a topic. Be specific, keep it short, and sell more copies!

The #9 Top Self-Publishing Lesson: When you commit to writing every day, you can accomplish more than you’d imagine. (Barrie)

Barrie’s first interview with Steve inspired her to write more books. After establishing the habit, what she discovered was that doing some writing every day made completing a book seem less daunting. You can easily complete a short book by writing as few as 500 words a day.

The #8 Top Self-Publishing Lesson: The 80/20 Rule of Book Promotion Sites (Steve)

In ASP 09, Steve talked about The 80/20 of Self-Publishing: 80% of your results comes from 20% of your efforts.

There are many book promotion sites out there, but 95% of them don’t do anything for your sales. As with all aspects of your self-publishing business, you need to focus on the 80/20 principle. Find those few core sites that bring results, and put your energy and resources into them:

Check out ASP 04: How to Land a BookBub Deal to learn more.

The #7 Top Self-Publishing Lesson: Writing about something you feel passionate about makes the entire process much easier and more fun. (Barrie)

Ask any author—writing about things you love is easy, but writing about topics that don’t excite you is a total drag. Barrie is all about self-improvement, so she loves to write about it. Writing is your job, but you should also enjoy it. Barrie loved writing her self-help and declutter books, but writing 10-Minute Digital Declutter was a little uninteresting for her. (The book IS selling well, though.)

Currently, Steve is really enjoying c0-writing with Hal Elrod on the topic of writing. And Barrie is excited for the new 10-Minute Mental Declutter.

If at all possible, write about topics that you enjoy. If it’s something you like to talk about, writing about it will be a natural extension of that passion.

The #6 Top Self-Publishing Lesson: Finding the right hook (and title) is the most important part of the publishing process. (Steve)

Steve’s Habit Stacking book made him realize how important a great hook is. Every author should put extensive thought into coming up with a hook—that angle that separates your book from others. Check out ASP 29: How to Be a Successful Book Hooker to learn more.

The #5 Top Self-Publishing Lesson: Co-authoring a book with the right person can up your game and lead to a great partnership. (Barrie)

Barrie, Ron, and Steve’s partnership has made each of them better writers, authors, and businesspeople. Writing is often a very solitary business, so it’s nice to have people you can share ideas with. But it’s important to find the right people to partner with. A good partnership can really expand your businesses.

Check out Co-Writing a Book by Joanna Penn and J. Thorn.

The #4 Top Self-Publishing Lesson: Listen to what readers want instead of just publishing. (Steve)

Don’t assume that you know what your audience wants. What you want to write about might not be what others are interested in reading. Or maybe people appreciate your topic, but don’t relate to your angle. Ask your readers what they want. Find out what their pain points and challenges are.

Get feedback by:

Asking also helps you write your email copy and book descriptions. You can even use your audience’s words in your copy. (Ask permission if you want to use exact words.)

The #3 Top Self-Publishing Lesson: Keywords don’t really matter. (Steve)

There are many different software packages out there that promise to find you the perfect Amazon keywords. But as far as Steve is concerned, this doesn’t really matter.

Steve doesn’t see the value of keywords when it comes to selling books. Maybe spend 15 to 20 minutes finding related keywords for your book, but don’t invest more time than that. Again, it is all about focusing on your 80/20 activities, and in Steve’s experience, finding keywords is not one of them.

Check out Dave Chesson’s blog Kindlepreneur if you’re interested in learning more about keyword research.

The #2 Top Self-Publishing Lesson: Having a blog can provide a lot of great material for case studies, testimonials, and repurposed content. (Barrie)

If you don’t have a blog, you should consider creating one. Not only does it help you connect with your audience, but blog content can eventually serve as book content too! Blogs can be a great place to find case studies and book ideas, as well as make new connections, build email lists, find new readers, and realize other sources of income (like ads, Google Adsense).

Books and blogs tend to go hand in hand, and it’s important to have some sort of platform outside your books.

Check out our latest post, 6 Eye-Opening Reasons Authors Need a Blog.

The #1 Top Self-Publishing Lesson: Everything is doable. You can learn every step of the process. If you DIY, you don’t need to lose 90% of your profits. (Steve)

This is Steve’s key argument against traditional publishing. He believes that it is totally feasible to have a successful business based on DIY self-publishing. You just have to commit to writing AND learning about self-publishing every day. All the information about self-publishing is available online. It might take time to find it, learn it, and apply it, but once you have, you maximize your profits, rather than giving a large percentage away to your publisher.

There you have it—the Top 10 Self-Publishing Lessons! Authority Pub Academy will relaunch soon! Go over to to get on the wait list. See you all next time!

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