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Last week I read an article by Jennifer Ciotta called “10 Things I’ve Learned in My First 6 Months of Being a Self Published Author.” It was full of honest, practical, real-world advice for anyone about to embark on a self-publishing “journey” (which is really more a roller-coaster ride between crushing self-doubt and triumphant ecstasy.)

I asked Jennifer if we could share her advice with BookBaby authors. She said yes and even shot this video outlining her experiences.Check it out, or read her original article here, or—if time is limited—see my quick summary below.

10 self-publishing lessons you don’t have to learn the hard way

1. It takes time to build your audience- 

Be patient. If you’re in it for the ride, you’ll be successful.

2. Shortcuts don’t work-

A daily commitment to your writing and promotion is the only way to succeed.

3. You will spend a lot of money-

Digital Publishing. Book printing. Publicity. It costs money.

4. Be skeptical of where you spend money-

Beware scammers and sharks who say they can turn you into a best-seller in 30 days! Ask questions, get references, and do your research.

5. Pricing is key-

Unknown authors shouldn’t charge too much for eBooks.

6. You will receive bad reviews-

Art is subjective. No book is perfect. And plenty of classics still don’t get 5 star reviews on Amazon. If the critism is contructive, learn from it.

7. Remember etiquette-

Concentrate on the positives. You’ve gotta let negativity brush off your shoulders.

8. You’ve gotta be tough-

“No one puts Baby in the corner!” Be persistent. You’ll have to fight for things.

9. Go after the big guns-

Every publicity opportunity begets another publicity opportunity.  Just because you’re self-published doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pitch yourself to CNN, the Today Show, etc. You might get lucky! But make sure you’re prepared.

10. Keep learning-

There’s a lot to figure out early on, and the landscape keeps changing. So you need to stay open to new ideas. If you’re new to self-publishing, check out Jennifer’s upcoming book called No Bullshit Guide to Self-Publishing. (Due out in early September, 2012).


Jennifer Ciotta is the author of I, Putin, which won Honorable Mentions at the New York Book Festival & Hollywood Book Festival, 2012. It is her debut novel. She has had short stories published in Del Sol Review and New Voices in Fiction. Besides her writing career, she is a book manuscript editor at Pencey X Pages and an advisory editor at Author Salon, a writers community that connects writers, agents and publishing house editors. She holds a Masters degree in creative writing and Russian studies from the Gallatin School at New York University.

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Chris Robley

About Chris Robley

Chris Robley has written 502 posts in this blog.

is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."

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