Thursday, September 22, 2011

Self Publishing on,and

Available from
Although it is early days yet to form an opinion, I would like to share my thoughts and experiences on self-publishing. Yes, I took the plunge and published a novel, Gogga op ‘n Harley on both and

The novel is in Afrikaans so I didn’t expect a lot of sales from the onset. The Afrikaans market is very limited to say the least and although many South Africans are living abroad, it is a minute amount of people interested in reading Afrikaans compared to the rest of the English-speaking world.

First of all, it is scary to say the least, to let your baby loose on the world without the backing of a formal publisher that does the marketing and editing for you. I suck at marketing. So, I published on first.

Self-Publishing with makes it laughably easy to publish your work on their web site. They provide you with a style guide that, if followed to the letter, helps you format your work for acceptance into their premium catalogue. This means your book is automatically distributed to booksellers like Barnes and Noble, Sony, Diesel, Apple and Kobo.

The other advantage of using the style guide is that your book is 99% formatted already for publishing at’s Kindle Direct Publishing. You get to upload a cover for your book and if you are not up to creating your own, even provides links to people that can assist – for a fee naturally.

Publishing is the easy part, just as writing is the easy part of a book, but marketing your book and getting it out to the general public is quite another thing. If you are mostly a hermit like me (according to my children), engaging in social media is very difficult. Using it to promote yourself, is quite impossible. Besides a few friends and family, I find it difficult to self-promote and tell everyone: “Hey, check out my book. I think you’ll like it!” That is just impossible for me to do. I hate salesmen and I detest sales pitches even more. So how on earth do you do it?

The honest answer is that I don’t have a clue. It’s not that I don’t believe in my book – I do, but I’m a writer, not a salesman.

Well I digress, publishing at has the advantage that your book is published in a multitude of formats. Not everyone has a e-reader and not everyone can afford to sit for hours in front of a computer reading fiction. Smashwords makes it easy in the sense that you can download a PDF file and print it if that is what you want.

Another thing I like about is that your book is not DRM locked. Nothing is worse than wanting to buy a book in a format you reader doesn’t support and then finding that it is DRM locked and you can’t convert it.  While I understand the reasoning behind the locking of the books, I don’t support it – I trust my readers to use and not abuse the literature I spent months (sometimes years) to create.

With all these plus points, it is thus with a sad heart that I have to confess I haven’t yet sold one book on

Self-Publishing with via Kindle Direct Publishing

Just after I published at I read on a forum that one should consider publishing through as well. I was a bit intimidated, being from South Africa at how the payment structure would work. At you get paid via Pay Pal, which suited me fine. At, if you are from another country, you get paid via paper check – and only once you reach the minimum pay out level of $100. I didn’t really anticipate any sales so the pay out problem would be well and truly in the future and I decided to go for it.

Publishing with (KDP) was a breeze. I had already done everything required for publishing on Smashwords, so the process was painless. Then I sat back and waited. It takes a couple of days for your work to be indexed at and after it went live, I was like a junky. I checked a couple of times a day if there were any sales.

Wow, to my amazement, the fist day I had sold 2 books. To say I was excited doesn’t even begin to cover the feeling I had. A stranger had bought my book without any solicitation from me. Then I started chewing my nails. Would it be good enough? What if they don’t like it? What if . . .  I had to laugh at this point.

How many books have I read that I didn’t like? Quite a few, but I never held it against the author. I just didn’t buy any more books written by him/her. And then I worried some more. Point being, in three weeks I managed to sell 14 books on and none on I think is just more visible than Smashwords and gets more traffic.

So bottom line- publish on both platforms to give your book a fair chance to be discovered and utilize all the writing tools you can to get your work read.

Above all, always keep writing.

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