(or How I Did It, a “.doc”-umentary)
Latest update: This might be the longest post in this series yet but as you’ll see, it’s been a very busy month.
Since early September, I’ve:
• Succeeded in getting Phagey added to the Goodreads library.
• Claimed the book as my own and updated my author profile on Goodreads.
• Notified all those who received ARCs that Phagey is now on GR and they can post their reviews; reminded them to use a statement saying that they received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
• Got my IngramSpark proof copy; proofed it and found it acceptable. Noteworthy—the page weight on IngramSpark books is slightly less than that of Amazon books, so that the IS books were maybe 1/8th inch thinner in size. Therefore, the cover’s spine and back was shifted by maybe 1/16th of an inch, but it was still within acceptable parameters. This is something to keep in mind for future books.
• SOLD MY FIRST BOOK! This was the IS proof, and the only saleable copy I had on hand.
• Placed my first order for 50 books from IngramSpark. (Ouch; it would be less expensive from Amazon, but I couldn’t order them there yet without that “not for resale” gray banner across the cover)
• Sent an email to my tax guys regarding sales tax and asking them how to get started.
• Designed and printed a poster and palm fliers/postcards for Phagey; bought a frame for the poster at the suggestion of other authors with more experience than I.
• Set up a sales tracking spreadsheet for tracking costs vs. income; included info like order numbers, when they were ordered, when they were received, and what my net profit was on that specific order. Also included each buyer’s name, the sale price/tax/total, when it was sold, and what method of payment was used. I’m sure this spreadsheet will grow and evolve as I recognize new tracking needs along the way.
• Set up an account with Square so that I can take credit card payments. (And got free processing for either the first 180 days or $1,000 in sales because a fellow writer who also uses Square referred me! Keep this in mind when it’s your turn; ask a fellow writer to refer you.)
• Bought a Square credit card swiper/reader; you can do this for free online when you set up your Square account, but I was on a deadline. I purchased
mine at Target, and filed a request with Square for a reimbursement, which they promptly sent.
• Ran my first ever vendor table at the HRW Conference in mid-September. Sold 10 books. Pretty sure I signed each one. Yay! Note: Make sure you track your sales and be sure to add applicable sales tax when calculating your total sale! I did not, and now will have to take the sales tax for those ten books out of the cover price, which cuts into my net (not much, but still). Next time, I’ll be smarter.
• Connected with two other authors who do local book-signing events at local farmers markets and so forth. Tentatively signed up to do one the very next week, barring rain.
• Learned a bit about Virginia sales tax, thanks to Dylan West, who posted a long, helpful thread on Twitter about this subject. With Dylan’s guidance, I registered on the Virginia Tax site, set up my business as a tax-paying entity, and printed out my certificate. Luckily, I had not yet gone more than a month since I took my first sale; apparently, you can be penalized for failure to file, even if you had no sales that month.
• Went on to my IngramSpark account to upload my Virginia Tax certificate and learned two things I wish I’d known a couple of months ago: 1) Virginia is one of about three states that requires its resale people to file multiple sales tax certificates, even ones for Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania, in addition to the one for Virginia, and two others—six certificates in all. You can download them one at a time or have IngramSpark email them to you. You’ll have to fill out, sign, and return to IS; and 2) any sales tax on orders you placed through IngramSpark before you filed for your tax certificate are non-refundable. Not sure whether the Virginia Department of Taxation will refund that money or credit it on these sales I’ve already made, since I paid the tax already. I emailed their help contact info, but my email bounced. (Apparently, it did go through since I received a response later. See below.)
• Signed up to participate in Amazon’s tax-exempt sales, so that I won’t have to repeat the learning experience from Ingram. By the time Phagey goes live, I should be set up to purchase author copies tax-free and resell them out in the world.
• Entered Phagey into the BookCrossing Program, printed out a label with its unique BookCrossing ID Number, labeled the book, and set it free on the Virginia Wesleyan University campus. Now to begin tracking its progress!
• At a tip from my editor, I found a reviewer willing to write an exclusive on Phagey for Chesapeake Style Magazine; received the review, sent it in by the deadline with a note saying the book comes out in October, and received word from the editor that they would do all they could to insure it went in this upcoming issue; distribution of this award-winning magazine is around 85,000, so this is great news for both Phagey, and for Vince, the reviewer, who also has a release coming up this month!
• Got word that Phagey would be included in BookTuber LeeReads’ September Round-Up; watched it with a bit of thrill as she talked to her subscribers about Phagey, then shared the link on my social media. Great feeling!
• Paid my first month of sales and use tax in Virginia – a whopping $10.12. Learned later that there is a way to avoid the double-tax, by claiming limited exemptions for the tax I already paid on my tax filing. Lesson learned.
• Got the final epub file from my formatter and uploaded it to Amazon. Celebrated when it showed up by dancing all over the house, then shared the link with my social media peeps. Made one preorder sale before the night was out.
• Created an author page on Amazon. This is easy to do, but you need to have an account on Author Central. (I already have two other Amazon accounts: one for my own personal purchases and one for publishing.)
• Three days prior to my release date, I pushed the “Publish” button on the print version. Amazon says it could take up to 72 hours to review the submission and make it live on the site; mine took less than 24 hours, but I had no graphics (other than the cover and tiny scene dividers). Maybe that helped it go faster? Either way, the print book was available the very next day. I did not announce this on social media because I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it until the release date, when buyers who’d preordered the ebook would also be able to get *their* books. Still not sure whether I’ll do it this way next time. I’ll see how it goes. Also, it’s worth noting that if you are using an imprint (for me, it’s Niveym Arts LLC), the imprint name you list on Amazon must match EXACTLY the imprint name on the Bowker’s site, where the name is associated with the ISBN you purchased. I mistakenly put a comma in the name (i.e., Niveym Arts, LLC) in my print book’s Publisher field, and the automated system would not accept it, but gave no reason why. It said to fix the “highlighted problems,” yet I saw nothing highlighted. I had to chat with an Amazon rep to figure it out. The fix took all of 10 minutes, and the rep was quite professional, patient, and helpful.
• Reached out to a half dozen written reviewers and a few YouTube book bloggers; so far, no one has responded. I’ll keep trying.
• Received my Certificate of Registration for Phagey’s copyright. Totally framable.
• I’ve started carrying at least one book with me everywhere I go. I made four sales doing this at the salon where I get my hair cut. The only place I’ve gone where this has *not* garnered a sale was at the Norfolk Circuit Court cashier’s office; even so, the clerk who helped me was most interested in the book. She looked it over and said she’d be watching for it. Whether or not she does remains to be seen. I looked on it as good exposure.
• I’ve set up two separate launch parties: one at The Muse Writing Center, where I have taken many great classes and learned most of what I now know about writing well; and one at a dear friend’s home. The launch at The Muse will only be about an hour long, with a reading from the book, a Q&A session, and a book signing opportunity for those who attend. There is a minimum donation, depending on what type of launch you want; I went all the way, and chose a combination of in-person, livestreaming, and recording so that I could share it with folks outside of town who can’t be here. The party at my friend’s house will be more relaxed, with wine, some jamming among my musical friends, a fire bowl, and some time for deep conversation. I’m looking forward to both events!
Still want/need to do:
• Take the other classes I’ve signed up for, mostly in marketing (the task I find most daunting).
• Start tracking (and back-tracking) all the steps I took along this journey so far so I can repeat them next time when I publish my second book (and the third, and the fourth). Thank goodness for this blog! I can come back and read all my own words!
• Using the list of steps I’m creating (above) and the start/complete dates from Phagey, set up a timeline with more relaxed deadlines for my next book. I’d prefer to have more time to complete each stage of the process, so that I’m not panicked and anxious as every deadline nears.
• Put a copy or two into local Little Free Libraries in nearby neighborhoods.
There may be other things I’ve forgotten, but these are the major steps I took in the last 4-6 weeks. I’m deliberately waiting until Phagey’s release date to publish this entry. Most of the set-up is completed, and the book is half-way published; tomorrow will be its big birthday, and I can’t begin to express how proud and relieved I am at this major milestone.
Phagey is about to spread its wings, and while I’ll still have to maintain momentum on its progress, I also have other projects in the works. One, a dark fantasy/ecofiction novelette, is now out with beta readers. Another novelette project is almost there, too. Once it is out with readers, I’ll get back to my Founder’s Seed trilogy, and begin revisions. I can’t wait—it’s been too long since I felt able to step away from Phagey long enough to create more words you’ll want to read!
Stay tuned and know I’m wishing all the best to you in your self-publishing journey!
**Please note that I am not a professional. Outside the writing part—for which I have taken numerous classes and workshops, and for which I’ve seen enormous improvement over the years, but which I am still learning—I mostly have no idea what I’m doing. I’m reading everything I can get my hands on, looking at how others who have been successful have done it, and learning this process as I go. I don’t want any reader of these posts to think I’m teaching THE way to self-publish; there are as many ways to do this as there are writers on the path. I am only sharing how I have done it. Your mileage may vary.
Me and Phagey, by The Hubenstein
Keyboard work, Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Inspector, Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels