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Diary of a Self-Published Bestseller

Hi, I’m Laurel, writing as Lauren Westwood. My goal is to make my first self-published book, My Secret Sister, a bestseller. I have six previous women’s fiction and romance books published by Aria and Bookouture. I am also a prize-winning children’s author (Laurel Remington). So I am a hybrid author – I already have a bit of a brand and a small following. I have done a few Facebook ads in the past, but no amazon marketing. This is all new to me.

Follow along, and let’s see how I do.

Why Self-Publish?

I have worked with many lovely people at several different publishers in the last five years. I have enjoyed some successes, and I have learned a huge amount. (Don’t read that as ‘earned’ – I haven’t ‘earned’ much in terms of money.) But I had the itch to see if I could make things happen for myself. After all, who cares more about my books than me?

No one.

I wanted creative control over the cover, title, and blurb. I wanted to see for myself how much it costs to market a book, and make the decision whether or not it was worth it. I wanted to decide how long to market and learn how to do it. I wanted to retain audio rights.

There were many reasons.

OK – let’s be honest. I didn’t have an amazing deal from a traditional publisher on the table for this particular book. If my name was Liane Moriarty, maybe I would have made a different decision. But as it was, I didn’t want the book to forever languish on my hard drive with many others that I’ve written in the past and didn’t believe in enough (or didn’t believe in myself enough) to put out there. With this book, I was determined that it would have a place in the world. I knew there were people out there who would love it, if only I could find them. So I decided to do it.

Full disclosure on something else too. My strategy is to remain a hybrid – I am self-publishing this book, but I have a couple of other projects that I am hoping to go mainstream with. For me this is an experiment. It’s an investment in myself – something I find difficult. This project is all about getting out of my comfort zone and trying something new. It’s about publishing a book on my terms, without the external validation that comes from a traditional publishing deal. I want to learn to be, as Sophie Hannah would say, the ‘first believer’ in my work.

This is a mental journey as much as anything else.

But here’s a little secret…

I can’t fail. Here’s why. I’ve decided that my criteria for success is: (1) have I put the book out there? (2) have I tried my best to promote it? and (3) have I learned from my mistakes so that I can do better next time?

No. 3 is what this blog is about. Whether or not the book ever becomes a best seller, I am going to look upon this venture as a success. I want to share with other people on the same journey some of my lessons learned.

Lessons learned:

1. Many of us find it difficult to be the ‘first believer’ in our work. But whatever the objective results are, if we take a risk, put our work out there, and learn from our mistakes, then we can view that as a success. (OK – it doesn’t always feel like a success!)


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