If you want to be wealthy, self publishing is not for you.
If you want to be a house hold name, self publishing is not for you.
If you think that because you've written a book, everyone you know will buy it and that will help you get a jump start into the market...guess what? Self publishing isn't for you.
The truth about self publishing isn't as encouraging as you might think, so if you want someone to remove your rose colored glasses, keep reading and I'll tell you what really happens in the world of self publishing.
Every once in a while, someone "makes it". His or her book reaches the top of the Amazon charts or gets tons of Goodread 5 star reviews, and you think to yourself, "If they can do it, so can I." But the reality is, people who make it in self publishing are the exception to the rule. Because self publishing is so popular, anyone can do it, which means there is no real way to discern which authors are good. There's no buffers, no editors, no reviews, no polishing through a marketing division, and your name goes into the big pile with everyone else. So to get any sort of momentum, you need to do the hard work of etching out your path in the publishing world.
You need to market, blog, figure out places to sell your book, get out and find your audience, engage, organize giveaways, find people to write reviews...You get the idea. You have to want it. And even then, there's little to no guarantee you'll succeed.
So why do it? Why did I do it back in 2013? First, I did it because I wanted to give my book as a gift to a dear friend and I didn't want my story to be censured by a publishing house. I now realize that was an arrogant and naive thought process, especially since I hadn't wrote a book prior to that one. I needed the help. Second, I was afraid of rejection so I figured if I self published, I wouldn't get any harsh criticism from people in my desired field. This, I again now see, was immature. Third, I wanted to keep as much of the royalties as possible. This was presumptuous, because in the past year, I made only $0.35 in profits, and that includes the book fairs I attended, the media giveaways, the blogs, and all the other attempts I did to try and sell my story. I learned that writing a book doesn't mean anyone will buy it. Or read it. Or like it. Even people close to you.
But let's say you really want to self publish, despite the risks. What do you need to know? First, you need to see it as a business. Yes, it's your art, your baby, but it's very much a business and you should approach it as such. Come up with a plan, a proposal so you have an idea of what you want to accomplish. Study the audience and find ways to connect. Second, sell yourself. Not literally, but you need to be accessible to your potential buyers. I feel like the day of writer's anonymity is over. You need a Facebook page, at the very least. Twitter, Instagram, a Youtube channel are even better if you're trying to self publish. Third, get out and meet people! When I do manage to sell books, it's usually face-to-face because I can really describe my story and people can see how passionate I am about my story and my profession. So it's up to you to make those opportunities. Local book fairs are a good place to start, but you can try Farmer's Markets, craft shows, a book signing. Whatever you think will get you in front of a potential reader. Fourth, study authors who know more than you. Don't be afraid to reach out to those who have been there, done it and succeed. Ask for tips. Listen. Learn. And be realistic.