It’s Never Too Late

I think one of the most dangerous ideas that floats around in self-publishing world (and the real world to some extent) is that you have to get things right the first time around or else you’ve failed.

But that’s absolutely not the case.

Let me give you some examples. My fantasy series is one of them. I published the first book in that series late in 2015 and the last book in that series in the middle of 2017.

And the sales…were not what I’d hoped for. I’d splurged for the pretty covers. I’d paid for expensive promo. I’d done a pre-order. But…it was depressing enough I haven’t gone back to writing fantasy since.

But here is the profit and loss chart for that series:

See something interesting there?

I’ve made more in profit every single year on that series after it was finished than I ever did while I was publishing in it.

That first spike is thanks to AMS ads and I’d say the rest of it is due to the occasional Bookbub ad or free run that boosts sales.

So those covers maybe helped get the Bookbubs, but it was really about working the series once it was done.

I was ready to give up on that series back in 2015 because it hadn’t lived up to my expectations when what I really needed was to figure out how to get it in front of its audience.

Here’s another one:

Look at that. Four years after it was released and suddenly it spiked. Want to know why? I changed the title to something that wasn’t a wordy mouthful and ran AMS ads against it.

The book itself had good content. But the title was doing it no favors.

It’s fallen off again since then because it’s just a single standalone title and those can be hard to keep afloat, but it would’ve been easy to say, “Gosh, I must not have written a very good book” when it was more, “Gosh, I really need to do a better job of branding what I wrote.”

It can feel embarrassing to have to change things up. And it can hurt to try to revive something you put a lot of effort into and still have it fail. But it’s usually worth a shot. Not the complete re-write. Don’t do that. But the new cover, the new blurb, the new advertising opportunity. All of those can be worth a try.

And if you’re thinking, “But everyone will see it.” Sad answer is most people aren’t watching.

Which is why I had no problem deciding today that I really didn’t like the covers I’d done for the Affinity Publisher books I published last week. So I put up new ones. I’d rather do that and have better covers on those books than leave it as is because someone might see that I failed and judge me.

Here are the new covers. I’m still not thrilled with the fiction layouts one, but I am much happier with the ads and book cover ones even though the ads one makes me feel a little dizzy if I look at it too long.

For me this is an argument for doing your own covers. I decided I wanted to change things up and two hours later I had done so. For others it would be why you don’t do your own covers, because if you paid someone they would get it right the first time around. (Hopefully. If you chose well and gave them good directions about what you’d actually written. Part of the challenge to self-publishing when you’re new is not knowing what works or doesn’t work.)

Anyway. If you’ve been thinking that there was something you could’ve done better and it isn’t some huge time sink, go do it.

Author: M.L. Humphrey

M.L. Humphrey is a former securities regulator, registered stockbroker (although only briefly), and consultant on regulatory and risk-related matters for large financial institutions with expertise in the areas of anti-money laundering regulation, mutual funds, and credit rating agencies. Since 2013 M.L. has also been a published author under a variety of pen names and across a variety of subjects and genres. You can contact M.L. at mlhumphreywriter [at] gmail.com.

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