The Art of [Self-Publishing] War

Posted January 11, 2024. Some links or special promotions may no longer be available, depending on when you're reading this. Some of the links in this post are associated with an affiliate program, which means if you end up purchasing something, Atticus does get a small kickback, but it costs you nothing extra, and it all goes to keeping our team in coffee!

Ever feel like you’re going to battle when you approach certain self-publishing tasks? I have a few strategies to help you turn every challenge into a favorite part of your author experience.

The Many Hats of a Self-Published Author

There are some days that feel like the responsibilities of being a self-published author are never ending. The days of “write it and they will read” are long gone, if ever they did exist (doubtful). These days, if you’re in the author as a career business, you not only get to write the book, but also edit, format, publish, and market it.

That list can feel overwhelming to even the most masterful self-publishing authors at least sometimes. My trick is to find a way to make my not-favorite parts of self-publishing feel more like my favorite parts.

Transforming Self-Publishing Task Dread to Hyperfocused Fun

Like many creatives, I have ADHD. For me, this often means I over-analyze tasks that do not need to be over-analyzed (negeative) and, when I am excited or interested in something, I have the near supernatural ability to hyperfocus on it (positive).

For example, I love plotting, writing, graphic design, and research. Even though I have a background in formatting, sales, and marketing – those pieces of the puzzle are always the parts where I second-guess myself.

Yes, even the formatting! I spend a huge part of my days inside Atticus and I used to be a professional book formatter back in the pre-Atticus days. But when I’m working on my very own book babies, I always wonder if I’m doing enough. Or too much.

The Key to Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

To combat this imposter syndrome, I turn to research – an aspect I can never really get tired of.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research into how the best selling books on the market are formatting their books. There are “best practices” of formatting – and Atticus makes it easy to get those basics just right.

But there are also trends and reader expectations based on popular books of the moment. What are they doing?

I’ve been invited to give a presentation at a Romance Author Indie Weekend event and I’ve gone on a deep dive into what the top Romance authors are doing these days. How? I check out the Samples available on Amazon for all the different category top sellers.

  • What pages are they including in their front matter?
  • How are they using images?
  • How are their chapters styled?
  • What are they doing differently between their eBook and Print version?
  • What else stands out about their unique books?

Finding answers to these questions and more is not just insprirational, but helps me decide what feels right for my own books.

Screenshots of the first page of a chapter from 4 best-selling Romance novels, as captured from Amazon's Sample feature. Books included: Too Late, Colleen Hoover, House of Earth and Blood Series by Sarah J. Maas, Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton, and Same Time Next Year by Tessa Bailey

Embracing Every Part of Self-Publishing

I’m certain that your favorite parts of the author business are varied and you may not love research like I do. But how can you creatively use the bits and pieces you love the most about being an author and apply it to the parts you dread?

Here’s another example, when I have to work on my sale or marketing, I do more research (hello, Publisher Rocket, how are you today?) but I also treat it like a creative writing exercise. If I can plot and write an entire book, why not a book description, some social media posts, and some A+ content?

That’s a topic for another day though…I’ve gone on long enough for one post!