Everyone has their own special story to tell, but getting it out to the masses may seem complicated if not down-right impossible, right?
Since I was a little girl, I have written/illustrated my own “books” and journaled, as writing has always been both a huge passion and hobby for me. That being said, I have had ideas for a number of books throughout my adult life, but always pushed them to the back of my mind, as I always thought publishing (whether in the traditional or DIY sense) was too time consuming and risky.
Sound like you?
A few months ago, I began following @mamahustlerepeat on Instagram, and always found her and her content relatable as both a fellow freelance writer and mom. Then, one fateful day, she mentioned self-publishing a children’s book on Amazon that ended up selling THOUSANDS of copies.
After seeing her post, I HAD to reach out and pick her brain, and I am so so grateful that she took the time to chat with me about the ins and outs of self-publishing on Amazon.
Side Hustle Moms (and dads): Meet the incredible Ashley Eneriz: A stay-at-home, homeschooling girl mom of a 6 1/2-year-old, 4-year-old, and 10-month-old from the beautiful state of California! As if being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama wasn’t enough, Ashley is also a freelance writer who has worked for such national publications as Discover, Readers Digest, and The Hartford. Amazing, right?
Without further ado, here is Ashley’s story, and her tips for writing, self-publishing, and marketing your book:
What is your background? Is writing something you have always done or did it come later on? I have wanted to be a writer since I was five, and even when my parents told me that wasn’t a real job, I would pick something else and writer, so “doctor and writer” or “teacher and writer.” I actually never wanted to do anything else. As a kid, I would read whatever books I could find on writing and wrote a lot of stories. In high school, I thought I wanted to pursue journalism. In college, I started out as a journalism major but ended up switching to a B.A. in English. I wish I knew then that my degree choice didn’t really matter, but I graduated debt-free, so it is all good.
You are a published author and have sold thousands of copies of your Blondie McGhee Detective Series! How did you come up with the idea for these books and how long did it take for you to make them a reality? I came up with the idea of the series in 2012 when I was pregnant with my first. I have always gotten ideas for books and thought they were great, but this is the first time a series popped into my head.
I even went to a wedding a few months before I had the series idea and randomly told someone that I was going to write children’s books. I remember after saying that thinking, “Why did I say that? I don’t know how to even get a publishing deal.”
I thought about the book often, but it did not become a reality until 2016, after daughter number two was here. It took me a long time to believe in myself.
What is the process for publishing a book? Did you go through a traditional publisher or self publish? (*Side note from me :P it looks like you self-published, so I am going to ask more questions pertaining to that -- if I am incorrect, please let me know and I will get the following questions changed!)
The process for self-publishing is simple at the core of it, but also much more involved and complicated than I imagined. At the core, you really can write your book and upload it to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Bam, anyone can be an author. However, the reality is that you need to write your story, get a cover designed, I had illustrations done for the inside too, then you have to format it, and get it edited, and send it out to beta reviewers, and market it, and so on and so forth. Basically, when you self-publish, you take on all the jobs that the publisher has a team of people doing.
Looking back, what was the hardest part of publishing your book? Do you have any regrets? The hardest part was trying to learn everything technical about the process. The only thing I regret is not doing this sooner. However, when you start researching the process, it is easy to get overwhelmed and go in a lot of different directions that aren’t as fruitful as others claim they are going to be. All of this was just growing pains and helped me learn in the long run, so I don’t necessarily regret them.
How did you decide on the pricing for the book?
I looked at books that my target audience was reading. Most of them are priced about $6.99 to $7.99. Some mass printed books get down to $4.99, which is just not possible for me to go that low. At $6.99, I am able to be competitively priced and still earn $2 per book. The buyer is able to buy the book with free shipping, and I do nothing. Amazon does it all – processes the order, prints the book, and ships the book.
What does the promotional and marketing process look like when you self-publish?
I did a lot of marketing in the beginning, with talking to beta readers and asking for readers to review. I use to also sell my books at holiday boutiques in the beginning. Now, I don’t do as much. It is always the goals to market more. I am hoping to really tackle that this year.
If you could give your younger, non-published self some words of advice, what would they be? Just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s what the third and fourth drafts are for. I think all of us get caught up with trying to craft the perfect item the first time that we forget that it is okay to do something just for fun. We start our books (or anything in life, for that matter) consumed with the thoughts of the end and forget to just enjoy the process. You just need to write the book. Don’t worry about the publishing and cover design yet.
If you had to choose one part of the entire process/experience as your favorite, what would you say it is and why?
Just recently, my eldest daughter (6.5) read the whole series and has been begging me to write another one. That has been so neat because everything I do is for my kids.
Ashley is the best, right?! I feel like she is such a wealth of knowledge, so I am hoping to chat with her again soon about her tips for freelance writers! Speaking of which, Ashley is offering a FREE 7-day course to start off freelance writing, which can be found here. Also cool? Next month, Ashley will be launching her new children’s book writing course and is offering Side Hustle Mom readers a first-hand look/half-off coupon via this link.