How I Made Over $16,000 Self-Publishing My Book While in College
I get a lot of people that ask me about how I wrote my book Bound Blessings and made it all happen while going to college… And I know you may have that dream of writing a book too. Soooo I decided to share how it all came to be and how you can make it happen as well.
Here in this blog I’m listing out the behind-the-scenes - all the things I learned along the way. I hope this can help you if this is something on your heart. I totally believe that you can make it happen!!
First off, pay attention to the tugs on your heart.
I grew up writing short stories and always looking to put together booklets and plays and poems and a variety of other things. I’ve always had the dream of writing a book, so when I was in college and I felt that fire light up when the idea of writing one came to mind, I had to listen.
You have to push through the doubt.
I loved the process of writing my book… but marketing it out into the world terrified me. I had so many doubts, lies, and fears that circulated in my head. What if no one buys it? What if no one likes it? What if I fail? What will other people say? Just ask my parents - it seemed like I was fretting just about every week over what impact my book could really have. What got me through was my mom talking about the power of one. “If this book impacts one person, then it’s worth it,” she told me. It is terrifying to put yourself out there, but if it’s on your heart, you have to push the doubt aside and keep your eyes fixed on seeing the dream through.
Break things down.
I broke my book down before I started writing it. I picked my chapters, my layout, and even the length I was going for. If I would have looked at the book as one big daunting task, I would have dreaded writing it. Instead, I chose to give a little bit of myself to writing the book each night. And little by little, the chapters started coming together. Celebrate the small victories, and take one step at a time.
Share your writing with the world before launching your book.
My blog was sort of a happy accident, as I really only created a website because I missed writing so much. I decided to post weekly blogs a few months prior to officially launching the book. This was huge for me, as I was able to show people my writing and gain their trust before actually launching and trying to sell them my book. It also gave me the opportunity to create an email list and get people that wanted to read my writing each week. You have to gain people’s trust before they’re willing to buy from you!
Do your research.
There was no one around me that I knew of that had written a book, so I had to dig in and do the research myself. I had to decide between traditional publishing or self-publishing. I knew I wanted to really own my book and donate half of the proceeds to the local children’s hospital, so I decided to go with self-publishing. Because of this choice, I had to figure out how to put this book together entirely on my own. This meant creating my own cover, putting together my intro pages, copyright page, table of contents, etc. Ask questions, and do your research!
Reach out to people you can trust.
I had a professor/advisor who I knew I could trust to give me honest and constructive feedback. I sent a PDF of my book to him and asked him to look through it. The feedback he gave me not only provided me with confidence, but also fresh eyes on the book. Having someone I could trust that I knew was invested in it meant a lot.
It’s important to connect with the appropriate partners to get this book off the ground and running. And sometimes this connection requires some guts… I went to the dean of the college before my book was even done and asked about possible funding to buy books. Once the book was done, I showed him the finished product, and he gave me a grant to buy my first 470 books. I could have easily wiped out my whole bank account by trying to start things off on my own. Instead, I looked at the resources I had and chose to step out and just ask. I also decided to donate half of my book proceeds to Dance Marathon, an organization on campus that raises money for the local children’s hospital. Because I took partners with them, they cheered me on and served as a support system as well.
Create a launch plan.
For me, writing and putting together the book was the easy part. It was selling the book that was hard. Strategy is very important when trying to get people to buy into what you’re doing. I strategically aligned my launch day with Dance Marathon’s Push Day, where they try to raise a lot of money in 24 hours for the children’s hospital. I created flyers and slipped them under dorm doors, I tabled below our cafeteria and sold books as people were leaving, I went office to office around campus and asked professors, coaches, etc. if they wanted to buy a book, and I even partnered with our local Pizza Ranch and had a book signing that Friday. I reached out to a variety of local shops to see if they’d be willing to have my books in their stores, and I did various speaking events where I brought my books along and sold them. I tried a variety of avenues and had to be strategic about how I was selling. You can’t just throw something out into the world and hope people pay attention. You have to show them why they need to.
Be okay with rejection.
Rejection is hard for me. It’s hard to see people walk by while your tabling with the book you’ve poured into for over a year and not look your way. It’s hard to have some shops tell you no. It’s hard to put a goal out for the world to see and hope and pray that you reach it. Stepping out and doing something different is hard. But you have to learn how to be okay with people who don’t agree. With people that tell you no. With people that maybe aren’t happy for you. The important thing to remember is that you are going after what God has put on your heart. And at the end of the day, whether it’s 1 person or 100 people, you have to keep that in mind. It’s not about the numbers.
Find joy in the journey.
It can be easy to get wrapped up in always looking to what’s ahead. To thinking about the next sale, the next book, the next thing. You’ve got to remember to enjoy each step. Because each step is beautiful in its own way, and you’ll never get it back. It’s a choice to be content with whatever situation comes your way - whether you’re an author or a teacher or a stay at home mom - whatever it is, your title and success do not define you. God does. And when He puts those things on your heart, He’s showing you the purpose He has for you. Don’t ignore it. Listen to your heart, and be happy with each page He’s written out for you in this book of life.
You can go check out my book here :) Have a splendid day, friend!