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What it means to be a self-published author in the personal development niche

Being a self-published author started with a simple idea… An idea that I wanted to share with others.

I vaguely remember 2016, without too many details. But even if the memory is failing me, 2016 was an important year to me. Back then I was able, with the help of a crowdfunding campaign, to raise a bit over 700 euros so I could print a book composed of two volumes. To be specific, I was able to raise, in 66 days, enough money to print 400 books (200 of each volume).

I used to have around me a community of people and I was lucky enough that those people wanted to invest in my idea.

It was a book about online entrepreneurship, how to do the things that you are passionate about and live your life based on what you love doing. It was a book about the way I managed to do it.

But how did I manage to do what I love without starving to death? To tell you more, I’ll have to go even more back in time.

Somewhere in 2009, I wrote and published something for the first time on the Internet. It’s been so much since then that, when I say this out loud, I have difficulties realizing I’m talking about myself.

But back then, in 2009, I was an anonym. I was writing short texts, of 100-200 words, on a blog and only a few close friends knew I was the author.

From 2009 and until 2012, I think I published 10-12 small texts.

Then, in 2012, I gathered enough courage and made another blog, where I spoke about personal development, without being undercover anymore. To be specific, back then I didn’t know what personal development was. I just knew that things could get better (both for me and those around me) and I was trying to write articles about it.

I believe that was a key moment. That was the moment I made an important step towards personal development.

In fact, it was so important to start writing about personal development that I was invited to speak at TEDxYouth conferences and I even organized a few local ones.

You see, from 2012 to 2016, when I made the decision to write and publish a book, I went through a lot of experiences. And the decision of writing the book came to me when I looked at my life and realized that I was having a business around me. A business that was based on my passion for personal development.

From articles to personal development books

In 2019, I made the decision to print all the books I wrote, in English (which is not my native language). I printed 1250 books (250 times 5 – the number of books I wrote) and I invested a few thousand euros in doing it.

In case you have no clue what it means to publish a book and become a self-published author, here’s some information:

  • After you write the book, you send it to enough publishers after you find one that wants to publish your book;
  • The publisher sends your book to the printing house where the pages of the book are formatted and a design for the covers of the book is created;
  • The publisher will make a business decision and decide how many copies they should print;
  • Your books are delivered to the shelves of bookstores and you get a percentage of the sale.

Pretty simple, right?

Well, I’ve chosen to do things the opposite way.

After I wrote my books, I collaborated with a translator and proofreader to make sure the information is clear and there are no grammar mistakes.

I designed myself the covers and pages by working with Photoshop and InDesign.

I searched all by myself for a printing house, without involving a publisher in the process.

Then, I invested a few thousand euros in printing 1250 books.

And to make sure things are done right, I did another thing, which is tied with the decision of not working with a publisher.

If you have a book around you, take it and analyze the back cover a bit. Next to the barcode, there’s an ISBN code (international standard book number). This code is given to books, by the publisher, so they can be technically recognized as books.

Without the ISBN code, a book is not a book. Without the ISBN code, you can’t sell your books in shops.

In fact, I’ve tried to sell my books in a few bookstores and couldn’t even add them to their online platforms because the ISBN code was required. That’s the struggle of being a self-published author.

Maybe you believe this is dumb or it doesn’t make any sense.

But I didn’t decide to print my books because I wanted to make money through the books I wrote. In fact, I remember I did a bit of research back in 2019 and, to be able to live your life only through selling your books (and with the help of a publisher) you need to sell around 10.000 books per year.

I wasn’t there when I decided to print my books. I’m still not there. And I’m not there because when I printed the books, it wasn’t my goal to get to the point where I can live my life as a full-time writer.

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My goal with the books I wrote

Since I printed my first books in 2016 and gifted them to some people, I realized that when people receive the books I wrote, they look at me with different eyes.

That’s when I truly understood the power of printed books: the development of the personal brand.

Since then, whenever I want to create a great first impression, instead of going to a meeting with my business cards (like most people do), I’ve chosen to get the books that I wrote.

Sometimes, I give as a gift all the 5 books. Other times, I offer only one of them. And I always get a smile back because I surprise the person I’m meeting.

Therefore, I’ve chosen to print the books I wrote not to sell them, but to gift them, so I could create a better first impression.

Financially speaking, the books couldn’t really be compared with the business cards.

Yes, the cost of 100 business cards is 20 euro. The cost of 1250 printed books was 5000 euro – around 4 euro/book.

I recommend you try. Become a self-published author. Write a small book, of 100 pages, and print it in 50 copies. I don’t think you’ll need a budget bigger than 200-300 euro. And then, when you meet with people you want to build a great relationship with (especially a business one), gift them the book you wrote.

With love and optimism,

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