Confessions of a self-pubbed author – who doesn’t know what she’s doing.


I am J.L. Sprague and I published Surviving on Amazon as an ebook on February 23, 2014. Shortly after, I created a paperback copy on Createspace (Mostly for myself.).
I am not advertising myself. I am stating a fact.
I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.
I had ZERO friends in the book world and I had no beta readers even after asking several people.

But I published it anyways. I did not use an editor and I published with mistakes in my novel. Do not judge me.
I wanted to write, so I wrote.
It has been almost a year and I am about to publish my second novel, Finding Rapture.
I still don’t know what I’m doing.

So, here is what I want to confess… February 1st I got my paperwork from Amazon for my taxes. For the year of 2014 I made a grand total of $104 and some change. Yep. That’s it. So, you may ask, “Did you do nothing to advertise your book?”.

Well, yes. I did. I did what I thought I was supposed to do – go on book tours.

Let me explain something else before I go on. I didn’t have a writing program on my computer so I bought Microsoft Word, costing me somewhere around the $150 range. Then I bought my book cover, not knowing how or who to do it for me. It cost another $100. Then I published my book, not doing a cover reveal or anything. I just published it.
Then once I saved a few dollars I bought a 2 month promotion from a “company” for $99. Unfortunately at this time I’m already up to $350 spent and zero monies made and I had JUST published the book.
I had a few sales from friends and family and I had a site post my book a few times, unrelated to the book tours.
I just wasn’t selling any books and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have the money to do much more. I started “liking” more blogs and other authors on Facebook (which I had already done).
I love to read so I would read the amazing books that came out and I started wondering how all these people were getting promoted so much. I mean, I asked this company to promote me and they did. Sorta.
I had no results so I did another blog tour for a “discounted” price of $40. I was like “Yes! I can so do $40 bucks”, although my husband was probably already about to strangle me.

Over the course of the year I produced no results. And still I couldn’t understand how all these authors were getting their books posted on facebook and other sites. I did webinars. They will tell you that if you want attention then you must go after that attention.
So, I put my book up on Amazon for free for a weekend hoping and hoping it would gain some attention.
I gave away over 1000 copies.
I still didn’t get any attention.
I did a giveaway during one of my blog tours saying I’d give a signed copy of Surviving, again hoping for attention. That cost me $10 for the book and another $4 to send it to the winner.
So now, I’ve spent over $400 on my book before I’ve actually gotten a paycheck. I knew giving away my book for free was a risk. A risk I shouldn’t have taken. The bad part is…I didn’t even get any reviews from it. I will say that out of the 10 reviews, most are from people I don’t know – so that’s good.

In July I went to an author signing and I was picked to “help out”. I mean, I was getting to meet some of my newly favorited authors. Colleen Hoover, Rebecca Donovan, Tina Reber, Jay Crownover, Cora Carmack…among others! I was SO excited because I wouldn’t just get to meet them, I would get to help them do whatever they wanted me to.

I was broke. SO broke. Honestly, I didn’t have money to park and unfortunatly it cost me $20 because there was an event happening in Nashville at the same time so I was out of luck. I just didn’t eat that day. No joke. I brought snack foods with me so I wouldn’t starve.
I helped out. I met people. Since I couldn’t afford to buy any of the author’s books that day I took a some (and yes only a few because I didn’t know I could take whatever) of the free swag. I had to ask if they cost anything. When I got a look by one of the authors, looking at me like I was dumb, she said they were free. I was estastic!!!
I brought the one copy I had of my own book for the authors to sign. MY BOOK!
BECAUSE AUTHORS THAT I LOVE COULD SIGN MY WORK. Every author of course said, “hey this isn’t my book”. Well…duh.
I have all kinds of ebooks that I buy when I can afford them. I try to buy when I have extra money. But it was JULY. I was out of work in JULY.
Honestly, Jay Crownover was amazing. The best author I met.
Cora was very sweet.
Tina was nice and took a look at my book for about a minute. I appreciated the thought. But I didn’t bring it to show her “hey look what I did.”.

Rebecca Donovan didn’t even smile at me. Didn’t even get a picture. Oh well. But she was sweet to everyone else. I think she was having a bad day because she was kinda late getting there. Do NOT get me wrong, I am not downing her or anyone else there. I’m just telling you my experience.

I was most excited to see Colleen Hoover. I mean because come on. She’s Colleen. Everyone wanted to meet her so I stood in line to meet her like I was supposed to before the event started. I didn’t have the extra money to buy any of her things like I wished I could have. But I stood in line so she could sign my book and hopefully get a picture. Because she was my favorite.
I’m not really shy but I’m an introvert, therefore I’d rather not bother someone if they’re busy or something. I’ll stand by myself, out of the way. But I got my book signed and said about 5 words to her other than “yes it’s my book, not yours”. And that was it.
I felt cheated.
I wanted to cry.
Because I was invisible.
Just another face out of hundreds.

Just as everyone was gearing up to start the event, I noticed no one was with Colleen. I really wanted that picture. So, I pushed myself over to her and asked for a picture. I got it. I got my picture! I felt happy, yet at the same time, my chest still felt tight and I wished I could just leave and go throw a temper tantrum that I spent all of my money parking just for a few seconds of their presence, a picture of some of them and a signature. And I still had to work.

The amazing thing about that day is I met a few really good people. Ebbie and Briana.
Briana is an author too. Ebbie is with a blog.
Briana has given me more information and helped me with more than I knew. And I still don’t know anything. Just the other day she helped me figure out HTML. Ebbie helped me with Finding Rapture’s synopsis and probably doing something else for me.

I was SO afraid to ask a blog to do anything for me. I didn’t know that I am SUPPOSED to ask blogs for help. That I can do it and not a “promotion” company.

I’ve participated in a few events and I’ve given away more copies of Surviving. All at my expense. I think it gained me maybe one review. And thankfully one person loved Surviving. Made me super duper happy.

So I’ve spent over $400 on Surviving and my year end total from Amazon is a grand total of $104.
Before someone says there is no way an author would do this just because he/she wanted to, not for the money is out of their stupid mind because YES I do it because I want to and not for the money.

One day, and hopefully one day soon I can do it for the money, but right now, I’m doing it because I want to show that I can accomplish something. I get to tell the stories in my mind no matter how crazy they may be.

I’ve decided things are going to be different with Finding Rapture. I SO wanted someone else to do the cover but I couldn’t justify spending over $500 for a good cover. Sigh. Don’t get me wrong. I love the cover I chose.
I signed blogs up for the cover reveal myself.
I had a total of 10 sign up. That’s right. 10.
ONE major blog was a no show, even after I sent the info.
ONE put up the info but didn’t actually post the cover for the “cover reveal”.
I had a takeover last night and I posted it there too.
So technically I had 9 blogs – sorta.
I made my own book trailer.
I made my own teasers.
And yes, I’ve spent a minimum amount of money on them.
I asked someone to do them for me, but guess what – they wouldn’t email me back.
I will not be using an editor – too much money to justify.
I will not be using someone to format for me, for the same reason.
Unfortunately, Youtube videos only show so much. But I’m learning. I’m learning A LOT!

I guess technically I’m complaining. But really, I’m learning that I have to rely on myself.
I’m not mad at anyone. People have things to do and businesses to run. But it’s frustrating.
Will you get excited for my next book?

It doesn’t matter if you do or don’t. I’m not writing for you, I’m writing for me. How can I say that? Did you just read this post? That’ll answer your question.
Now I need to figure out my next move.
I think I can, I think I can. I think I can, I think I can.
This will be my motto.

J.L. Sprague