Adventures in Self-Publishing – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Category: Adventures in Self-Publishing (Page 2 of 2)


Discouraging or Revealing?

This weekend was the launch of my book, a moment I have been looking forward to for weeks now. It’s finally time that my name goes public, time for the world to see what I can do. I’m out there, and it feels great.

So, it was a bit of a blow when I went to check the numbers on my book sales and found them far, FAR lower than I had expected. I definitely wasn’t planning on being the next Scott Lynch or Brandon Sanderson, but I was kind of counting on a few more book sales than I had. The number of books sold almost looked like a cruel joke to me. My stomach sank, and I felt a twinge of discouragement.

What a great way to start a career as a fiction writer, right?! Truth be told, I’ve been struggling to stay positive since the weekend, but it turns out that this apparent “flop” is actually quite revealing!

Here’s what I’ve discovered thanks to my “unsuccessful” book launch:

  1. It’s a tough industry. With more than 300,000 Kindle eBooks sold on Amazon alone, who was I to think that my debut novel was going to make more than a ripple in the massive ocean that is book sales?
  2. It’s going to take A LOT of work. That’s right, I’m going to have to go about working hard just to sell enough books to break even. I’m nowhere near my goal of 120 books sold, and it’s going to take a lot of work to reach that goal. A LOT more than I was expecting to.
  3. Life doesn’t hand things to you just for being awesome. No matter how great I think my book is, there are probably many out there that are better. I could have “won the lottery” with this novel, but it’s not likely.
  4. It’s better not to “win the lottery”. Imagine what would have happened if I would have magically sold thousands of books in the first weekend? I would probably think that every word dripping from my pen is as gold and gems, and I’d definitely overestimate my value as a writer. I may be good, but I’m not THAT GOOD! It’s better that I work hard to build my platform and personal brand, as that will force me to spend time doing the little things that will make me successful as an author.
  5. It’s going to take A LOT of work. I repeat myself, but the truth is that I now have to go about building a platform of readers from the ground up. That means reaching out to new people, chatting and making friends, trying to get people to like me as a person before telling them about my book, and expanding my online personality the slow way. It’s much more work, but I think it will be better for me to do it this way.
  6. I’m going to have to be better. If this book is good enough to sell, that means I’m going to have to up the quality of any future books. I don’t even know if this book is good enough to sell, because everyone that bought my book did so because they know me and like me enough to throw me the proverbial bone. Anyone who buys my book from now on will probably be doing so because I made friends with them, they read a good review from a third party, or stumbled across it and bought it on the virtue of the book alone.
  7. I’m going to need to learn a lot more. I love to learn new things, so I’m approaching this as a challenge. If I can learn what it takes to become a writer that has a following and people that buy my books, I will have acquired a new skill–and not one that came naturally to me like writing did. It’s going to help me be better for the next time around, and I may even be able to help someone else find their own success!

Yes, it’s definitely a bit discouraging to realize that this is going to come a lot harder than I had originally planned, but I’m choosing to take away the lessons from it rather than putting away my pen and quitting. It’s a long, tough road ahead just to reach that goal of 120 books sold, but I’m going to keep pushing until I do.

Can you help me keep pushing? Drop me an email telling me to get working, or help me expand my reader base by signing up for my email list. Take a look at the book and give me feedback on the chapters you can find on my Books page, or just shoot up good thoughts for me.

The most important thing is that I keep working on it on my end, and I’m making this promise to whoever reads this post: I’m going to do it, no matter how long it takes!


Taxes: Every Freelancer’s Worst Nightmare

The nightmare of taxes has begun!

In order to sign up for an Amazon account to publish books, you need a Social Security number. No big surprise there. However, for international writers – like myself – getting a Social Security number is impossible.

If a SS Number isn’t an option, Amazon asks for an ITIN or EIN.

The ITIN – or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number – is a taxpayer identification number for those that cannot get a Social Security number.

The EIN – or Employer Identification Number – serves a similar purpose, though, according to my studies, it:

“Is issued to anyone, including individuals, who have to pay withholding taxes on employees. It is also issued to entities, such as states, government agencies, corporations, limited liability companies, and any other organization that must have a number for a purpose in addition to reporting withholding tax, such as for opening a bank or brokerage account.”

My research into my tax situation led me to this brilliant article by a blog superstar named David Gaughran. It breaks down the process of getting the number to prevent Amazon from holding on to a sizeable chunk of your income.

The secret: getting an EIN instead of an ITIN.

In the comments section at the bottom of the post, there is a ton of advice on how to get the EIN number quickly and easily. Armed with the knowledge, I picked up the phone and made the dreaded call to the IRS.

10 minutes later, I was on the phone with a very nice woman whose name I forget. She was very friendly, made it incredibly easy to get the number, and I was done within 15 minutes. My EIN number was given to me on the spot, and I am ready to post my book to Amazon.

If there are any other international or non-U.S. writers out there wondering what to do about your tax situation, I urge you to follow the link above and find out more. It makes it very easy for you to get everything set up, and you’ll be done in no time. The dreaded tax problem can be put in your rear view mirror thanks to the advice you’ll find on that page.

Should It Be So Hard to Choose Hosting?

I’m going to be documenting some of the issues that I am facing as a newbie to the world of self-publishing. Hopefully, it will help make your journey easier – you can learn from my mistakes. Being terrified can’t stop you or me from doing what we have to!

The first trial all self-published authors – and pretty much all professionals that rely on the internet for business – have to go through is setting up a website, a surprisingly time-consuming task. Before you can even start fiddling with your template, you have to choose a web-hosting company.

This has turned out to be a surprisingly challenging task, even considering all that I know about the various web hosts. In my history as a freelance writer, I have written many articles comparing hosting companies like Bluehost, Hostgator, and GoDaddy. I should know all this stuff, right?

And then it came time to actually choose the web host. A friend of mine, fellow author Peter J. Story, found that Bluehost gave him no end of troubles. His site gave visitors from outside the U.S. all sorts of troubles, and he eventually had to switch over to another company.

He now works with Digital Ocean, a site he claims is easy to use, is reliable, and cost-effective. On the downside, he had to set up his own server in order to get full control over the site. I’m nowhere near that tech-savvy, so that option is out.

My brother is a web developer, and he has worked with GoDaddy in the past. He said that it was good, but the cost of setting up a website on GoDaddy seemed a bit too high for me.

Hostgator was the cheapest option around, so that’s what I’m working with right now. It’s a cheap option, but that kind of backfired. I paid for the hosting on Thursday, and only got the account on Saturday. When I called, they said that due to the high volume of new accounts, it was going to take time. Worst of all, they didn’t send a confirmation email, and they didn’t know how long it would take to get it set up.

So, cheap isn’t always best, a lesson that I hope I don’t have to learn the hard way too many more times. I’m resisting the urge to spend as little as possible on an editor, a book cover designer, and a comic book artist for all of my works, so I figure my rookie website can be a bit simplistic and affordable to start. Once I start rolling in the dough, I’ll consider upgrading.

All that to say, choosing hosting should be so much easier than it really is! It takes way too much time and research to find these things out, and you never really know what you’re going to get until you actually try them. The reviews you read online aren’t always accurate – something I found out the hard way.

My First Failure: Editing

Is it just me, or does submitting a book to an editor feel a bit like failure?

Painting, writing, and drawing are all forms of art, and art is something that comes from within. It’s kind of like exposing your innermost thoughts and feelings, and letting the world tell you what they think. It’s hard for me as a first-time novelist, and I’m dreading the moment that I get my first negative review. It’s like my novel is my baby, and someone’s going to point out, “Wow, that part of your baby is really ugly!”

I’m a perfectionist – particularly when it comes to writing fiction – so I try to write as if I never needed to edit anything. I try to make everything 100% grammatically correct, with perfect punctuation, sentence structure, and so on. I cannot leave loose ends in my story, so I try to tie everything up nicely for the reader (for myself, essentially) before the book ends.

So, when I send the book to an editor to be corrected, it feels like I’m failing. I failed to write a 100% awesome book, meaning that I am not 100% awesome! One of the worst feelings in the world for me is to think that I have failed at something I thought I was good at – or I’m not as good as I thought I was.

This is why it was so hard for me to say, “Gods be damned, I need to hire an editor.”

Reading over my book now, I’m glad I did. When I sent it in to an editor, he sent back the first couple of chapters, and boy were there a lot of comments! There were no plot holes or serious boo-boos in the writing, but the editor brought up some really interesting points that I would have missed or simply deemed unimportant to the story.

Editing feels to me like a failure, but the sad truth is that it’s really not. No one is perfect – not even me! I have to accept that I am going to be flawed in my writings, and I can’t blame anything on “It’s the writing style” or “I left that in on purpose”. Sometimes, as a writer, you just screw s*** up. If you were to leave the work unedited, other people would notice the glaring mistake that slipped past your gaze simply because you were the one that wrote the thing.

I have to be willing to accept that I’m going to make mistakes in my writing, and I’m not just talking about the occasional typo. I’m going to make some huge mistakes, and I’ll need a friendly, fresh set of eyes to help me correct those mistakes.

Once they are corrected, the book will end up being a whole lot better in the long run. As much as it feels like failure to submit your manuscript to the oft-cruel hands of an editor, trust me when I say that it’s going to make that manuscript a bazillion times better.

Here’s hoping the editor is gentle with my works…


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