I Self-published my book. What’s next?

First off, hope everyone had a great weekend! This is my first post after my website went live last week, so it’s super exciting to get to finally—officially—do this. 

As many of you already know, this is my first time publishing a book. Diamond City released on 5/30/23, and it still feels a bit surreal. I’ve been a writer for years. This is not to undermine writers, of course, but anyone can write a 1,000-page book on their laptop and keep it in their closet. That was me, actually! And I wouldn’t have minded doing it forever, but I wanted to share my stories with other people and that’s what prompted me to take the next sep.

And trust me: taking that next step into publishing is the hardest, riskiest part of this profession. How many of us want to send our hard work out into the world for others to read and critique? And let’s not forget that all this is, er, subjective. So what one might find to be amazing, another might totally hate. I’ve been hearing that so much my whole life, but I didn’t quite get it until now. It’s one thing to have your friend read your book and another completely different thing to have a stranger read it. One you’ve never even spoken to on social media. My first experience with this came from NetGalley.

NetGalley

On Goodreads, it’s all reviewers talk about. “Thank you NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.” So, as an author, you think to yourself, I gotta do it, too!

And I did. I paid close to $700.00 to have my title listed on NetGalley for the next six months, thinking that I had to do it. I mean, I had my cover art, my pages nicely formatted, and my mind in an I’m-almost-published mode.

I’ve gotten one-star reviews that say my book is trash. I’ve gotten five-star reviews that say my book is the best thing anyone’s ever read. To be fair, I’ve also learned there are a lot of trolls on NetGalley. Like, a lot. A lot of the “reviewers” on there are on the hunt for free downloads and never review. Others leave you a review without ever having read the book—and you can tell. They’ll say things like “this isn’t good” but not explain why it’s not good. An ARC review is supposed to help the author make changes for the final cut. At least, I think that’s the idea.

On the other hand, I’ve gotten some good feedback from NetGalley reviewers as well. This one reviewer gave me three stars, but really made me think hard about the overall take-aways of my novel. He complimented my strengths and went on to describe what he didn’t like. I agreed and disagreed on some, but respected his point of view. When other reviewers started touching on the same points, I made the changes accordingly.

I think the moral of the story is this: be careful who you accept as a reader on NetGalley. Make sure they have a high feedback ratio. Check their reviews of other books. If their average rating is 3 or lower, I would say…pass. The ARC stage is very sensitive, in my opinion, since it’s not really the final product, and you want people who are going to be helpful with their feedback—not chew you out.

Will I use NetGalley Again?

No.

First off, it’s expensive. Secondly, NetGalley makes it difficult to communicate with your readers/reviewers. It’s not like Instagram where you can send a message or comment on a post. Thirdly, I’ve met incredible people on Instagram who have truly helped me and supported me as an author. That’s not to knock the readers on NetGalley, because a lot of them are on Instagram, too, but for new authors: be careful because again…trolls. Inappropriate reviews. I had to have one taken down because the language was degrading. It’s truly not the best of feelings for someone who’s starting. And, fourthly, NetGalley is not a true reflection of who your reader following will be. Remember that the majority of readers don’t leave reviews. I, myself, as a reader of fiction, never left reviews. And I have a lot of books 🙂

For anyone who is considering self-publishing for the first time and wants true, honest feedback on their manuscript or ARC, my advice is this: hunt. Ask bookstagrammers, readers, and reviewers for an opportunity to read your book in exchange for an honest review. My go-to platform is Instagram. Facebooks works, too, although I’m not too familiar with it yet. You can join groups or buy ads. For me, I love connecting and communicating with people. I’ve developed a pretty good relationship with a few on Instagram, and they are the ones I’m turning to for beta-reading feedback on my second book (title to be revealed soon!).

Okay, so now what?

Now that the NetGalley part is over, I can touch on what my next steps will be! Here we go.

  1. Marketing Diamond City as much as I can without paying. I’ve—er—spent a lot of money already.
  2. Incorporating beta-reading feedback to Diamond City #2.
  3. Working on another series, totally different from Diamond City. Remember that more people read your first book—not the second.
  4. Social media. That will never stop. It’s the only way to truly build a readership. If you have a team, puzzle pieces should slowly fall into place.

Has anyone had any experience with NetGalley? Either as an author or reviewer? What are your thoughts on getting ARCs out there?

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