Have you written a book but are battling to get it published? A successful self-published South African author (who experienced problems you might be having) shares her advice and tells you how to take the leap and get your novel out there
If you’re thinking about putting yourself out there, writing and publishing the book that’s been lingering in your mind, but just hasn’t seen the light of day, I have some advice…
Almost four years ago, in December 2015, I self-published my first full-length novel. The previous year, I had been writing fan fiction, like many aspiring authors, and when one of my readers on Wattpad mentioned publishing my novel, I thought she was joking.
The months prior to that hot summer’s day, I researched, I Googled and I spent countless hours trying to find information about being an independent author in South Africa. Every website I came across was geared toward those in the US or UK. All I saw were the dollar signs, and I thought I would have to fork out thousands for someone to help me get this right.
As frustration bloomed, I stumbled upon a website with information about another website called KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). As I continued my fall down the rabbit hole, I found that I could do this. It’s not as difficult as people made it out to be.
Yes, there is a lot of work that goes into marketing your book, but you don’t have to pay anyone to publish your book for you. I hopped onto the KDP website, created my author profile, filled in all the information, and uploaded my novel.
I was scared. I was nervous. I never told anyone, not my family, not my friends because I thought this might not work.
But as soon as the book went live on Amazon, I was awestruck by seeing my name on their website, on my cover. Social media became my best friend and I found an international book community that supported me, offered me advice, and taught me things about self-publishing I would never have known about otherwise.
Firstly, for South African authors, getting an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is free, whereas our US colleagues pay an extortionate amount for one number. Secondly, being paid wasn’t difficult because I found a service called Payoneer which made receiving my royalties so much easier. Instead of waiting for a cheque to arrive in the post (yeah, I know, it may never arrive), I was paid via EFT.
There was one more step to take – networking
This is where Facebook, Instagram and Twitter saved me. I found authors, women just like me hoping to make a career from self-publishing. There weren’t any contracts from publishers, we didn’t have deadlines to meet, we were inadvertently running our own business.
WE are the business!
I’m not going to say it was an easy ride to get to where I am, because it certainly wasn’t, but it was worth it. Nothing can ever change the feeling of holding the book you worked so hard on. Seeing your name on a book cover, knowing after weeks, months, possibly years of slaving away, creating worlds that readers can get lost in, is finally real.
But I pushed my way through every speed bump, each stop sign I encountered. It is definitely more difficult for South African authors to be seen, or to get our names out there, but with a little grit and sweat, it’s possible.
I left my job in March 2019. I am now a full-time independent author
I make my own hours, I earn my own money, and I don’t have to answer to a boss. I’ve travelled to the United States three years in a row for author conferences and signings, and next year I’ll be heading to the United Kingdom to attend an event.
If you’re thinking about putting yourself out there, writing and publishing that book that’s been lingering in your mind, but just hasn’t seen the light of day, I have some advice:
Don’t think twice, just take the leap!
1. ISBNs are free
2. Apply for a Payoneer account to get paid
3. Create a KDP account
4. Networking is key
5. Facebook Author Groups
6. ROSA (Romance Writer’s Organization of South Africa)
If you’d like to chat to me, I’m always open to chatting to new and upcoming authors. I do focus on the romance genre but am happy to offer advice to anyone wanting to take the next step.
About the author
Dani Rene is a USA Today Bestselling Author of a variety of genres, from romantic suspense to dark erotic romance and even BDSM romance. She loves to delve into the raw, emotional journeys her characters venture on, and enjoys the dark, edgy, and sensual scenes that fill the pages of her books. Dani’s stories are seductive with a deviant edge, and with feisty heroines and dominant alphas.
Dani lives in the beautiful city of Cape Town and is a proud member of the Romance Writer’s Organization of South Africa (ROSA) and the Romance Writers of America (RWA). She has a healthy addiction to reading, TV series, music, tattoos, chocolate and ice cream.
Find me online!