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Monday, January 4, 2021

The Journey to Self-Publication, Part 14: Defining Success

I've gotten quite a few questions about why I finally decided to delve into self-publishing and how I'm doing it, so I figured why not create a new blog series!

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a piece of the self-publishing puzzle---from how I came to this choice to writing, editing, marketing, sales, and everything in between. Please remember that this is simply my experience, how chose to do things. Others do things differently, and that's fine! So, your mileage may vary, but in the end, I hope seeing yet another way of tackling self-publishing will help you on your path. 

Need to catch up on previous posts? Find them here:

It's been a while since I've made a post in this blog series, and I apologize for that. Life has gotten the best of me, but it's now a new year and I'm back at it! Hope everyone had a happy holiday season and that 2021 is treating you well so far :) 

I'm a week away from releasing book 5 in my series, and it seems so surreal to me. It feels like I just began this journey, and now I'm nearing the end -- not the end of self-publishing because I do have plans to continue and release new books. But as I reflect on how far I've come, I realized that I've been a lot more successful than I imagined in terms of what I deem to be success.

The definition of success is going to be different for everyone. For some, it's about number of copies sold, how much in royalties are earned, how many reviews a book gets, if it gets a big trade publication review, etc. Now, I'm not here to tell you what should constitute success and what shouldn't, but I will tell you how I define it and how I set and met reasonable goals along the way. 

When I first started this journey, I knew it was going to be a ton of work, and I knew I wasn't going to sell hundreds of copies. Self-publishing any book is difficult, but self-publishing YA is an even harder uphill battle. That combined with the fact that I'm essentially a nobody in the publishing world, I realized each sale was going to be hard-earned. With that in mind, while I did set some sales specific goals, I focused my success goals on other things. 

GOAL #1: Get 5 or more preorders for book one. I managed to get 10 preorders, so this goal was successful and gave me the boost I needed to push harder with each new release. Sadly, I didn't beat this number in preorders for book 2, but I did with book 3 with 13 preorders!

GOAL #2: Get a minimum of 15 reviews on Amazon. I know there's info floating around that the magic number for Amazon is 50 reviews, but again, I'm being realistic here. I have a combined 47 reviews on Amazon across all four books in the series that have been released so far. And a total of 69 on Goodreads. Not too shabby, and I'm totally counting this as a success!

GOAL #3: Okay, so this was my biggest goal and for me, the ultimate determining factor in deciding if I was truly successful or not. And it's probably not what you think... I wanted someone to read my book and love it so much they felt compelled to email me and tell me. 

And it happened!!! More than once, actually. I've had a handful of readers reach out to me via the contact form on my website and tell me how much they loved my book, ask when the next one will be out, and ask if they could join my ARC team (which, prior to these emails, I didn't really have an ARC team. lol. But you can bet your butt I do now!) I've also had readers who found my book on BookSirens reach out to me to ask to join my ARC team, too. 

But the one thing that's really made me sit back and say, "Wow, I did it! There are people out there who absolutely love my books. I achieved my ultimate goal." was when Kris Riley of My Blissful Books agreed to read and review Eternal Curse. 

Let me back up for a second here... I was scrolling through Twitter one day as I often do and I found a review of a friend's book, one I had done developmental edits on. So, naturally, I clicked through to read the review (it was a glowing 5* review), and then I began to poke around on the website until I found the page for review requests. Figuring it couldn't hurt to try, I emailed the blogger. She responded and agreed to review but said it wouldn't be until later in the year--November-ish. I said that was fine, sent her a digital copy, and then forgot about it. 

Fast forward to November, and I see the following image / post on social media:

Naturally, I got a little nervous. What if she hated it and tore it to shreds?? And then this happened...

Followed by all of this:

To say she loved this series is an understatement. I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say she blew through all 6 books in a week flat. She has quickly become one of my biggest fans and even named The Cursed Series her favorite paranormal series of 2020!! But she didn't stop there. She read my entire backlist, too, including my two books I'd published as Lexi Lawton. 

I officially have a super-fan!

If I never sell another copy, I will be happy knowing there are others out there who loved these books and these characters as much as I do. (Though, I really really hope I continue to sell copies.) If you don't already follow My Blissful Books, you really should! And check out her group on Facebook as well. 

Now that I've rambled, allow me to get to the actual point of this post: 

Define what success means to you, and then set reasonable, attainable goals to hit that mark of success, whatever that may be. And once you reach it, celebrate!! Then, if you want to keep going, move the goal post and aim for the next mark. 

Come back next week when I'll be talking about pricing and how I'm using price points to help market the final book in the series.

Got questions?

Drop them in the comments!

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