Allen J Johnston

Author of The Divine Series

The official website of Allen J Johnston, the author of The Divine Series.

Self publishing tips for the beginner

Sorry for the delay in getting this out.  I have been very busy working on my fourth book.


Okay, back to getting you published.  So, we are assuming you are going the self publishing route.  In my opinion, your absolutely best course of action now is using Createspace from Amazon.  They are incredible.  They make it easy with a step-by-step process, walking you through what you need to do.  There is no out-of-pocket money spent like other vanity presses.  And, they have the least expensive cost when you need to order copies for yourself.  They will even put together a virtual book for you to closely examine before you publish.  After setting up your book, they easily segue you into the Kindle section where you can transfer files over without having to start all over.  For eReaders, you must be on Kindle.  The other outlets are good to be listed with, but you will get over 90% of your sales from Kindle.  Now, the good thing about Createspace is that you can always go back and correct any issues that you find in the book.  You WILL find mistakes unless you write a one word book.

Okay, so you are getting set up on Amazon with Createspace.  Let me make one suggestion, if it is not too late.  Create an account with a name you would be proud for people to see.  While you might love as a cool name for gaming, when you respond to reviews and it shows "Slayerofthenight says".... it will raise eyebrows.  Create something that has your name or something that will not make people think you are the next serial killer.  Why might you want a name that you use to reply?  Because you may want to comment on a review.  If your book is not as polished as it should be, you will irritate readers and they will make it known that they are irritated with the reviews they leave, thus, ending your writing career quickly.

People can be heartless when leaving reviews.  They forget (or don't care) that authors are people too.  Your chances of getting negative reviews is very high.  It is part of it.  You can't please everyone.  It's tough to deal with a negative review.  It can ruin your day.  Just focus on what the majority of your reviews are saying.  If you are over four stars, you are fine.  I got my first two star review after getting fourteen five star reviews.  It happens.  He was looking for Stephen King.  While Mr. King may be a great writer, I don't personally care his style of writing so I don't write like him.  It only matters if you start to pile up a lot of them.  As much as this hurts, it might be what tells you that your family members were not being honest when they said your story was better than Lord of the Rings.

Okay, if you get a negative review, for god's sake do not race to respond.  You are going to want to defend your work.  STOP!  You must take some time to think this through.  Trying to convince someone that they are wrong is a tough thing to do.  Your best option is taking the high road and being diplomatic.  I have read what some writers say in their responses, and it ends up inflaming the situation.  Personally, I say let it go and move on.  But, since so many will be itching to have their say, I suggest researching negative reviews on line and see what suggestions are out there.  A great idea would be to go to my book on Amazon, The Divine Apprentice, and see how I responded.  Keep it polite, profession and do not insult the reviewer.  I thanked my review for taking the time to read my book and for leaving a thoughtful review.

Now, you may be wondering why you had to read this whole post before publishing.  Because how you distribute your books decides whether book stores can order your book for customers who come in and ask for it, or even to put on their shelves.  If you set up distribution correctly, book stores can order.  As you are choosing what channels you want to use, consider not selecting the "Expanded distribution".  Here is why.  For bookstores like Barnes and Noble, or any other large book seller, to purchase your book for their store the books have to be returnable and bookstores can't return to Createspace.  What I suggest is doing what I did; set up an account with Ingram Sparks (Lightning Source) and let them take care of your expanded distribution.  If you select "Expanded Distribution" through Createspace, you will not be able to use Lightning Source/Ingram Sparks.

If you talk with a bookstore and ask them to carry your books, they will find that your book is, indeed, listed with Lightning Source (Even if you list with Ingram Sparks, as you will) but it is POD (Print on Demand).  You need to make sure they understand that even though it is POD, it is returnable, and then they will purchase.

Normally, I add my saga to the end of this, but I am going to save that for next time as it covers marketing and there is a fair amount of stuff to share.  Trust me when I say you don't want to miss my next blog.  With over 5000 books now sold, I think I have a very firm handle on it.  5000 is not a record breaker by far, but for a self published book, it is a huge success as 90% of books published sell 50 copies and then die.

Allen J Johnston
The Divine Apprentice
The Divine Path
The Divine Unleashed
Next release, Oct 27, 2014