Justin is a combat veteran & writer who served the Marines for 13 years. Justin received a BSBA in 2015 and MBA (marketing focus) in 2017.
Beginning the eBook Publishing Journey
For the non-indoctrinated, It's a unique and strange feeling—calling yourself a writer. I've often wondered if those with an English or Journalism major have a smoother mental transition, from telling yourself and your friends that you hope to be a writer one day to announcing that you are one.
For me, I've had some minor successes in the article writing arena—starting out publishing press releases and technical documents for small companies, then slowly working my way toward having my own opinion about music, politics, leadership, marketing, history, and the military. For me, declaring that I am in fact, a real writer isn't allowed until I at least have some measure of publishing success. I by no means hold anyone else to this standard—it's just what I've decided is required for me to feel comfortable making such a claim.
What is "publishing success" anyway? That's something that I've recently had to ask myself as I move through the Amazon KDP Select program. At first it was simply to self-publish anything at all, just to get over that hump and cross that bad-boy off my checklist. Having put together some work over the last few weeks for newcomers to the Marine Corps, I decided I would use this as my launching platform and "get my feet wet" so to speak. Now, having hit the final "submit and publish" button on Amazon, I'm forced to face the next question . . . what do I consider publishing success now?
Your REAL Goals
It's funny, when you ask the artistic and creative types (like myself, I guess) what they consider to be "success" with their passion, they'll typically respond with some beautiful statement about making a difference, expressing themselves and that whole "even if I only affect one person—it would all be worth it" stuff. Look, as someone who is highly self-actualized, I totally get that. I wish that nothing else in this world really mattered and we could all support our families simply be being true to ourselves. Some people do. I'm ridiculously happy for them, seriously. One thing that I've had to face in my struggle to understand myself is the fact that this doesn't really work for me.
I would love to inspire people and bring smiles to the faces of every sentient being on the planet, but I'd also like to pay the bills. The truth that I must face is that this is very freaking important to me. If we're honest—we see that the "best sellers" on any list are the ones touted as being the most "successful" writers. I agree. If you can do what you love and make a living doing it—that's my personal measure of success.
That being said—I'm still forced to answer the short-term question of the day, "what is publishing success for me now?" As you move through the Amazon KDP Select process, you'll be forced to consider that question deeply. Not just the what is success but also the strategy behind it.
KDP Options and My Decision
Amazon KDP Select is a pretty cool platform if the circumstances are in your favor. Generally, if you're publishing your first book, you're not famous and you don't have a marketing guru working for you for free—then you'll likely benefit from the KDP Select program. Here's a very quick version of how it works:
You give Amazon exclusivity on your book (meaning no one else can publish the digital format) for 90 days. Yes, you can still publish paperbacks anywhere you want during that time. In exchange, Amazon gives you a list of benefits to include a $2 payment for each of those who "borrowed" the book from the Amazon library, 70% commission on sales - even those under $2.99 (for limited times), scheduled days to give your book away for absolutely free (which is huge) and a few other little perks.
I chose to go the KDP route, but that does not necessarily mean its right for everyone. I'm writing to a very specific niche, within which I have access to hundreds of thousands of potential readers in my demographic. My "strategy" is to gain as many reviews and downloads during set free download days in the hopes that it will encourage word-of-mouth marketing in a very tight-knit community. If all goes well, it will also mean having 50-100 reviews on the book as well (which seems to be a sign of popularity for book searchers).
As a write this, I have six weeks left in the completion of my MBA with a Marketing Concentration. This will be the second business/marketing concentration degree I'll receive so I'm eager to find out if this education was worth the money (kidding - it's already been incredible). More seriously, I plan on using everything in my marketing and branding toolbox to push my little book as far as I can—for two reasons. First, because I like to sell things and make money. Second, because as all marketers should know, marketing and advertising is a non-stop cycle, constantly evolving based on feedback, analysis and mountains of data.
As I continue down the path to my personal version of publishing success, or lack thereof, I will continue to chronicle my marketing strategies, methodologies and results. Hopefully, I'll make all the right mistakes and keep others from doing the same.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Justin Best