My Experience As A Successful Self-Published Author by guest @TerryTyler4

Please welcome author Terry Tyler to the blog today. Terry has built a successful online presence in a short amount of time and she’s sold several thousand books. Terry hails from the UK, so if you don’t know what ‘whinge’ means, it’s like whine for us. No, not wine. 


Terry TylerHello, BadRedheadMedia readers!

When Rachel kindly asked me to do a post about my success, my first thought was, but I’m not very successful.  I’m not (what I consider to be) an Amazon bestseller; I’ve only been in the Top 100 very briefly once or twice, and sometimes I have a day or so when I don’t sell any books.  Then, the other day, I read in one of Rachel’s articles that the average self-published author only sells 10 books a month, and ‘success’ is having sold around 4 or 5 thousand.  Okay then, phew, thought I – I can write this article!

When I first self-published, in November 2011, there weren’t nearly so many people doing it.  I think there were only about a million titles on Amazon UK.  Still, though, when I first saw my book for sale I thought, how will people know it’s there?  Social networking sites, of course… luckily I had always used Facebook a lot (and MySpace before it) so I knew how these sites work – i.e., that it’s all about the relationships you make.

Immediately I made a Facebook author page – I’d advise any new author who already uses Facebook to do this, as your friends will not want to see your book posts all the time, and might even end up hiding you from their news feed.  Yes, some will like to know when you have a new book out, but that’s about it.  Many of my friends on Facebook don’t read much, don’t have a Kindle/iPad (my books aren’t in paperback), or might just not be that interested in the ‘other me.’  If you get an author page for all your book stuff they can choose to ‘like’ it (i.e., see your posts in their news feed), or not.

A friend who works in the media told me that I HAD to use Twitter, or my books would never sell apart from to friends, and friends of friends.  I started to do so, but hadn’t a clue how to use it effectively for the first few months – thus, I only sold a handful.  I’ve written a post on self-published authors on Twitter, on my blog on the UK Arts Directory, which is taken from my own experience and observations.  I’ll tell you what got it started for me, though – the KDP free promotion!

Now, I know that these aren’t as successful as they used to be, because a) there are so many books free all the time and b) everyone’s got Kindles fit to burst and only download the ones they really fancy reading, now – but if you’re on KDP and your book isn’t selling, why not give it a whirl?  I know a few people who have, in the last few months, done very well with a free promo – a boost in sales once the promotion is over, more reviews, more sales for any other books – and, we hope, more for future books too!  Do remember, though, that a free download is not a sale.  People buy a book because they really want to read it; they download it free because they think they might as well.  About a year ago I read that only 20% of the people who download your book for free will ever read it.  I reckon that’s optimistic.

How do you capitalise on any success gained from the free promotion?  If people review it favourably on Goodreads, thank them (you can send a message to most people on there).  If they tell you on Twitter how much they’ve enjoyed it, or that they’ve reviewed it, thank them.  These people are your future reading public – take an interest in them, too; don’t they deserve it?! If they enjoy reading what you enjoy writing, it’s likely you have things in common – some people who’ve now become good online friends, I first ‘met’ because they’d enjoyed one of my books.  Be active on Twitter/Facebook/other sites you use, to keep your name ‘out there.’  Get your next book out as soon as possible – but don’t rush it.

What It Takes

I reckon the main thing to remember when promoting your self-publishing self via social networking sites is that there’s a whole world out there – it isn’t all about you and your books.  Think about it.  Why do you buy a biography of or read interviews with a well-known person?  It’s because you find them interesting.  On a smaller level, that’s one of the things that will make people want to read what you have to say, too.  Think of something to blog about other than your ‘self-publishing journey’ (she says, writing about it here!).  Don’t use your blog to whinge {Ed. Note: whine} about not being able to sell, or how hard the self-promotion is – whinge about it to the writing friends you’ve made on Twitter, in private, instead!

Lastly, please realize that it’s a long game.  Most ‘overnight successes’ have been working at it for years.  It takes time to build up a readership.  You might not start to sell until your third or fourth book.  Every time a complete stranger buys and enjoys one, that’s success.  There is lots of help out there, too, much of it free – for instance, on Rachel’s hallowed blog!

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Here are the links to my Amazon pages, in case you would like to have a look.  My latest book, What It Takes, will be availableon September 6th – Amazon UK | Amazon US

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  1. Lisette Brodey on September 20, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Hi, Terry:

    Thanks so much for writing this great blog.

    You are spot on about Twitter. I know many authors who have told me they don’t use Twitter because they prefer Facebook. They don’t understand that it’s not like preferring white wine to red. Twitter and Facebook are two distinctly different things. They’re both important, but it is not an either-or proposition. Then, there are those I’ve met who say that they don’t like Twitter, but when I’ve questioned them about their experience, they usually tell me things like, “Well, I was on for a day and couldn’t understand what was happening.”

    And you’re right: “overnight successes” take years. The only failure is in giving up.

    Terrific and relatable blog!

    Best wishes and continued success,


  2. Terry Tyler on September 20, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    Lisette, thanks so much for reading and commenting – presumably my other article, too! Glad you agreed and approved – my sister started using Twitter about a year ago (she’s a proofreader, @ProofreadJulia) and hated it – then she sussed out that it’s kind of a ‘numbers game’ – when I first went on it, too, I just thought it was a load of people posting all these weird links to a load of stuff I didn’t give much of a shit about. Then it all clicked…!

  3. Lloyd Lofthouse on September 21, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    You’re so right. For most authors, it’s a “long game”. For example, Amanda Hocking published and promoted her work for, I think, eight years before her books caught on. I read that the year before her work went viral selling hundreds-of-thousands of copies a month, she earned less than $4 thousand.

    • Rachel Thompson on September 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      Thanks for the comment and for reading Terry’s post. Yea, many overnight successes have toiled away for YEARS. Nothing happens overnight and people who think it’s just luck are fooling themselves.


    • Terry Tyler on September 23, 2013 at 12:51 am

      Hi Lloyd, thanks for reading – and yes, though I had no idea about Amanda Hocking – thanks, I shall remember that one! I know, I know – I see so many people tweet about this long awaited debut novel, then release it, find that after the initial flush of sales from the Twitter Writers Club it goes back to zero, so they put it out for free, but don’t do the free promo right, so all they get is a few more reviews and no after-sales (usually because they do it with no preparation) – then they start blaming ‘the industry’ and writing blog posts about how it’s impossible to sell books….!

      Rachel – You’re so right about ‘if they think it’s just luck’. A few people have asked me how I get all my reviews. Um… because I work at promotion like it’s my DAY JOB, so a lot of people read my books.. which are quite good! It’s like they want me to give them some magic formula or tell me a site to click on where I magic them all up!!!

      Sorry, comment getting as long as post..

      • Lloyd Lofthouse on September 23, 2013 at 7:35 am

        Thank you, Terry. You are right about promotion being a job. I’ve been promoting my work and building my author platform for going on six years, and I work at it every day. The first thing I do after I get up is spend about two hours checking my Blogs for comments to reply to; reading e-mails; checking the social networks I belong to and then I turn to my Twitter account for a half hour or so.

        After that I work on new Blog posts for my Blogs: four are themed blogs and one is on any topic I want to write about. I launched my first Blog in 2010 and I’ve written more than 2,000 posts [about a million words] that have attracted 485,283 visitors as of this morning at 7:23 AM PST.

        Once I finish working on new posts, I turn to my next project—the rough draft of my next book is in its beta revision stage and won’t be out for several more months, but I started promoting that book in 2010 through the platform Blog I launched just for that book. A Blog that’s already has over 20,000 visitors and 1,889 followers.

        Writing a book isn’t a magic, automatic ticket to fame and wealth. Writing the book is the easy part. Finding readers is the real work.

        To get a better idea, imagine your book is one tree in a forest with millions of tress spread over hundreds of thousands of square miles and readers are visiting that forest hiking along trails looking for one tree that will interest them. What do you think the odds are that one of those readers looking for a book to read will find your book if you don’t promote it. Last year more than 500,000 new titles hit the market. That’s 1,370 new titles published daily, and the average avid reader only reads about 10 books a year.

        • Terry Tyler on September 24, 2013 at 3:57 am

          That’s an excellent blog post in itself, Lloyd! I spend as long on the promotional side of it each day as I do writing – sometimes longer, if I have a few guest posts to write, or a blog post or two of my own. Often when people say they’re no good at the promotional bit, what they mean is they can’t be bothered!!!!!!!!!!

  4. CF Winn on September 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Terry, as usual, a great post and sound advice. I bow to your greatness and wish you much joy and success and no whinging (?) in your ear. LOL

  5. Viv on September 23, 2013 at 6:55 am

    Excellent post. It also reassures me I’m actually quite a successful author, even though at times it feels as if I am an ant!

    • Terry Tyler on September 24, 2013 at 3:59 am

      Hi Viv – thanks for reading, and I know just what you mean! I really think it’s true though, about every book bought and enjoyed by a stranger is a success, that’s not just a ghastly platitude – because that person has become one of YOUR READERS. Also, if you think about how you discovered YOUR favourite authors – weren’t many of them recommendations from others? Mine were, or through accidental finds in the library – the case for free books!

  6. Madison Johns on September 23, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Excellent post. I have used KDP Select in the past, but not more. Bargain book ads do much better these days. Having a back list is pivotal, the more books you have, the more books you’ll sell. They begin to sell each other.

    When it comes to Facebook I recently shared something not about books at all, but about a tragedy I had gone through. I had so much support that I was blown away. On Facebook people want to know who you are as a person not just a writer. They are also some of your best supporters, sharing your links. When it comes to Twitter I’m still lost, but recently I had linked my Facebook and Twitter together and I’m starting to get re-tweets, which I always go out of my way to thank them or re-tweet them.

    • Terry Tyler on September 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm

      HI Madison! Yes – I’ve heard all about things like BookBub and that other one (EReader Today or something?). The only thing is that they are US only and only affect US sales – it’s the UK where I really want to make a hit, though I realise that a sale is a sale and appreciate everything you say – you’re right! I think also that the UK might be better for KDP free promos as we have far less books on Amazon UK. You’re certainly right about the back list – I notice that everytime i bring a new one out!

      Again, I think with Facebook it’s different in the UK. We’re more reticent by nature – if I was to keep going on about my books on my personal page (I rarely mention them on there!) I would be seen as bigging myself up too much, and probably lose friends (the 250 people I had on my Facebook page were either real life friends or people I’ve met online before I started self-publishing). Similarly, we tend to keep things like personal tragedies to ourselves, or write about it in a rather droll way, or inject some humour into it. I know people like Rachel often suggest linking pages together but I don’t like that because my posts for FB are more laid back than my tweets, even on my author page. It’s interesting how we’re all so different, isn’t it? Particularly the US/UK thing!!! Thanks for reading and commenting, I appreciate, and wish you continuing good luck!

  7. Alex Martin on September 24, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Hi Terry, I found this blog post so reassuring and find that I’m doing okay seeing as I only published my first one The Twisted Vine a year ago! Your information is so down to earth and helpful. I still don’t fully understand twitter, I confess and I still haven’t got around to a book page on FB. But it’s good to know it takes time and probably more stories to really get established. Good luck with your new title. I’m sure it will do well.

    • Terry Tyler on September 27, 2013 at 12:00 am

      Hi Alex!
      Thanks!!! You must remember I’ve just published my 6th book and it takes time, as I said – also, when I did really well with my first two there were a hell of a lot less books on Amazon UK, only about 1,200,000 I think,, and it was fairly easy to get to number one in the free downloads, which automatically led to a place in the paid Top 100.
      Did you use FB before you self-published? I’d really recommend getting an author page, if so, for the reasons outlined above. Say you post about your new reviews, or whatever, I think that for every person who goes ‘well done, that’s great’, there will be 2 saying ‘I wish she’d shut up about her bloody books!!!’ Ha ha! Of course, it’s completely different if you have only started using FB as a promotional thing. Please do look at the piece about self-publishing and Twitter (link in article above) – lots of people have said it’s really helpful, and I do know what you mean – it took me several months of daily usage to really ‘get’ Twitter! Thanks for reading and I hope Daffodils continues to do well, too! xx

  8. Kara Kelso on September 25, 2013 at 6:22 am

    Love this topic! What really defines “success” anyway? If you are happy with your sales, I’d say that is a success!

    Free promotions on KDP is an excellent way to boost sales. Why? It encourages people to take a chance on the book, then REVIEW it. How many times have you read the reviews of something on Amazon before you bought it? I know I do ALL the time. If something isn’t reviewed at all, I’m leery of purchasing it. I’m not what you call a “trend setter” or have the desire to “get it first”. I will wait to see what others say about it before I take the leap. OR if it’s free… heck yeah I’ll try it out, and review it for that privilege.

    Great article! Love reading experience pieces like this. 🙂

    • Terry Tyler on September 27, 2013 at 12:03 am

      Hi Kara – what can I say? I absolutely agree with everything you’ve written! Yes, I thinks sometimes people forget that before self-publishing on Kindle, having your book read, reviewed positively and recommended to others by a stranger was an impossibility! Good readerships don’t happen overnight, unless you are very, very lucky or have an agent/lots of money for really well targeted advertising behind you. Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

  9. Gisela Hausmann on September 25, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Very cook blog, Terry.
    Which of your books do you think would be the best starter book?
    It will take a bit till I can take on new books b/c I have more than a dozen in queue + I am downsizing/moving. I just don’t want to forget but put a book on my wishlist. THX

    • Terry Tyler on September 27, 2013 at 12:07 am

      Hello Gisela! Thanks for reading, and your interest in my books! It’s hard to suggest as I don’t know your tastes, but You Wish was my first book. I think my later three are probably the best as far as editing, etc, goes, as you learn by writing, though! You Wish and The Other Side are a bit ‘quirky’ in subject matter and unusual….. Nobody’s Fault and my latest one, What It Takes, are straightforward family dramas with nice plot twists….. and Dream On & Full Circle are rock romances – much lighter but with serious bits! I hope that helps. Maybe go for the most most recent, What It Takes. Thanks again! 🙂

  10. […] My Experience as a Successful Self-Published Author […]

  11. Shondreka Palmer on November 13, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Hi Terry. This article is great! Thank you for sharing your experience.

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