Guest Post by Jonna Ivin
Jonna Ivin used Amazon’s CreateSpace service to self-publish her memoir, Will Love For Crumbs. In this invited guest post you will read the inside story behind her decision and her experience carrying it out.
When I was first asked to write about my experience in self-publishing, the thing that kept running through my mind was, “I have nothing to add on this topic that hasn’t already been written about. Knowing this going in I decided to do what I always do when faced with a new challenge, write from my own experience and write the truth.
The truth is, when I finished writing my memoir Will Love For Crumbs, I didn’t have the first clue what to do with it. I knew one thing for sure, I had no desire to write letters to publishers, wait to be told I could submit a few chapters then wait some more, maybe be told I had been accepted and then spend more and more time waiting for my book to finally be released. Of course I knew all along this process that the possibility of rejection would hang over my head. But rejection was not an option for me. That was the second thing I knew for sure.
I figured the best way to avoid being rejected was to not ask to be accepted because If I didn’t ask permission then no one could tell me no. It was the first time I was completely prepared to call the shots in my own life, well, maybe not prepared, but determined. Being firmly set on knowing what I didn’t want, I then focused on going after what I did want. What I wanted was to see my project through to the end. I wanted to hold a printed copy of my book in my hand and know that I had finished what I said I was going to do. For me the decision was simple, I would self-publish. But where to begin? I knew nothing about self-publishing, but what I did know was as long as someone out there had done it before me, then all I had to do was follow their path. And so I began to Google it.
I read everything I could on self-publishing and most of what I read kept leading me to Amazon. From there I learned that there were two options, Kindle and paperback. I went for both. Why not? I had nothing to lose. I won’t go into the actual step by step process because Amazon and CreateSpace have already laid it out much better than I could ever explain it. I simply took each step one at a time and did what the instructions told me to do.
I was alone at the office late one night when the moment came for me to hit the publish button. I was nervous, excited and I’ll admit, a little scared. Okay, a lot scared. I’d written about the most personal parts of my life and now all of it was floating around cyberspace for anyone to read. I was terrified people would actually read it, but even more, I was terrified that they wouldn’t. I posted a little blurb on Facebook announcing to my friends and family that my book was available, then drove home, crawled into bed and went to sleep, once again having no idea what the next step would be.
Will Love For Crumbs began selling a few copies a day, and I was slowly building up my social networks, adding friends, joining groups and participating in conversations. I think it’s really important to be strategic when participating on social media sites. Most importantly you must be “social”. Going in and flooding a site with links to your book is not only boring, but most often annoys people. I put my focus on memoirs and relationships and when I found interesting articles or books on these topics I reposted them. I’m always looking for new ways to reach a wider audience and supporting other writers is a great way to start.
I also took advantage of the KDP Select Program to offer my book for free. Valentine’s Day was approaching and I thought since my memoir is called Will Love For Crumbs it would be a funny tie-in to the holiday. I offered free downloads for three days, using the tag line of, “Don’t worry about your crappy love life – read about mine instead.” During the promotion there were over 21,000 downloads of my book. I was beyond thrilled with the results.
I’ve been asked by some people, “Why would you give away your book for free? Aren’t you afraid of all the money you’ll lose?” My answer is always the same, “I didn’t lose anything. Those 21,000 people would have never even heard of my book if it hadn’t been available for free. I would gladly give 100,000 copies of my book away. The whole point for me is to reach the widest audience possible and in order to do that I have to reach beyond family and friends.” And it worked. After that weekend I began to get more and more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads which continued to lead to more sales. I began to receive numerous friend requests on Facebook, opportunities for interviews and guest blogs but more importantly readers started to reach out to me to say that I had written a book that described how they had felt and what they had experienced in their lives. That alone is worth any number of free books.
My best advice to anyone who is thinking of self publishing is to just go for it. Write the best book you can and then throw it out into the Universe and see what comes back. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, the playing field is even. No one can tell you no and rejection is not an option.