Sufi Stories

Celebrating innovation, creation and entrepreneurship

How I Got Started as a Self-Published Author?

Guest post by Venli.

Do you want to self-publish successfully?

For me, success in self-publishing means being able to SELL my books.

In the beginning, simply getting the book out, seemed to me the most important thing. And then, faced with the sheer volume of work involved in selling and marketing, I had a near meltdown. There have been many times when I almost abandoned my dream.

Some hidden force game me resilience and the willpower to go-on. And I am glad I did.

When I embarked on the journey of self-publishing, it was my burning desire to break the chains binding me to the stressful office politics. I did not like being dependent on somebody else’s whims and fancies.

I yearned for the freedom to work from anywhere and yet earn decent money.

It took me a long time to win my freedom from the corporate world. But the fight was well worth it. I can’t explain how exhilarating it is to see my books published and have a constant stream of income, and not have to fret about things like job security and corporate career.

Instead of feeling hunted all the time in the buzzing downtown, I now relax in our house near the woodlands. I write in my own time. And best of all, I can spend as much time as I want with my friends and family.

The company I worked in my previous life was rated one of the top places to work in the country. Work-life balance was encouraged, and we could work remotely many days of the week.

Yet, you can have only so much flexibility in a desk job. As an example, when visiting my parents, who lived in another part of the world, I always felt an invisible rope tugging me back to corporate work.

My corporate job brought me very good money, well north of 250K per year. It allowed me to pay for the comfort of my loved ones. Yet I could not participate in the joys and travails of their everyday life. And worse, even when I was with them, I could not shake off my anxiety. My behavior with my family was infected by the stress of corporate politics.

I dreamed of a time when I would not have to count the number of days I could spend with my near and dear ones. I yearned for geographical freedom in the true sense. The need to be free from the clutches of corporate politics became an obsession. I single-mindedly set out to find a solution.

Being somewhat of a tech geek I tried many fancy things. I wasted a lot of time. I eventually realized that, for me, self-publishing is a great way to make real money.

It was a magnificent day when I published my first book on Amazon, and you can imagine my jubilation when I woke up the next day and saw that a copy of my book had got sold. I had earned $9.99 when I was sleeping!

The journey from earning $9.99 to making a real living was long. I want to share with you, the things which have contributed most to my success

It was not easy to embark on an uncertain journey to find an alternative path. I had dedicated 15+ years of my life to crafting a high-paying corporate career. Every single person I met, including my parents and my siblings questioned my sanity. They asked me why I was being a fool and why I wasn’t content with what I had.

What kept me going was a burning desire for a change. For me this desire was not just vague wishful thinking. I had a definite vision of my end-point. This vision transcended everything else.

I dedicated every moment of my life to finding a solution. I kept a notebook with me all the time. While waiting at the airport or in a customer’s office I would write down my ideas for storylines, and plan on how to market my book. I visited book-stores and read up on book marketing.

For me, my end point was clear. I determined the exact amount of money I needed to make and the lifestyle I could have with it.

I then determined what I would have to do to make my vision of earning a livelihood from self-publishing a reality. As an example, I knew that when I left my company, I could no longer count on a predictable salary to bring me money. I would actually need to work harder, and I would not have the support of a corporate behemoth. I would need to not only write my book but also create a whole marketing structure for it. I had to learn to sift the reality from fluff, and not end up killing a whole lot of money on pointless things like expensive ads and going crazy with website designs.

I also envisioned a definite timeframe for my goal with clear milestones. I certainly did not want my dream to flounder in a vague wasteland of uncertain plans.

Action was important for me. I knew the mistake of trying to perfect a product. I focused on putting in action my game-plan. Instead of aiming to write a masterpiece in my first attempt, I focused on getting out a minimum viable product, an MVP. This MVP was the first edition of my book which I further refined based on feedback I got.

I wrote out a nice one-page summary of my game-plan and stuck it on the wall behind my monitor at home. I carried a card with this same summary in my wallet and would look at it at the start of the day and at the end of the work day. I did not give up my corporate job immediately since my family depended on me. Once I started making the money I had aimed for, I quit my job. But I exited gracefully. My colleagues continue to be my friends. I love to host my ex-colleagues in my charming house in the deep woods and they enjoy visiting me.

The key to success is to have your desire backed by a clear time-bound game-plan. Identify the things you can start on immediately. I hope that my story inspires you to continue on your book writing journey with renewed zest.