Simple doesn’t mean easy, the mistake I made and how to get around the need for funding…

This post is to address the people who send me emails and leave inbox messages asking how they can get funding for their book.

Look, having the money to print and market your book is definitely awesome but, the lack of it should not stop you. In this post, I will tell you the mistake I made with my first book and what you can do instead.

The Mistake I Made With My First Book:

Cover of The Girl from the Hole

I have been writing for as long as I can remember but nothing I would share with anyone. With my first self-published book, The Girl from the Hole , the goal was to see if I could sit down and see an entire to book to completion and then publish it. I was not looking to make money with my first book, it was a personal goal, not a financial one.

The mistake I made though, was printing a few copies without testing if people wanted to read the subject matter. And this is how most aspiring authors, like me at the time, fall into the pitfall of securing funding or using your savings to print books you don’t even know people want to read.

I printed 50 copies to test the waters and I only sold 24 of those initial copies. (What a mess, LOL). On the bright side, I learned that there are at least 24 people who would give me money for my writing, so that unintended objective was met – people will pay for your writing- and I got reviews from most of the people who bought the book.

Reviews are good because they give you a chance to learn and put more effort into your craft and final product. The first edition of my first book was a bit of a train wreck! The book was not formatted correctly and the printers I used couldn’t careless, they just printed exactly what I sent them, no layout suggestion talks, zero!

And even when I received the printed books and was not pleased, I had to keep going (remember the goal was not to make money but to see if I could see an entire book project through and see if people would pay for it) because I had just dropped R 3 000 in printing costs, money given to me by my sister and hubby. (Rockstar kinda family!)

Through this experience I learned a lot and what to share what I have done differently since and what I am implementing with the upcoming book.

What to do instead…

This is going to sound wrong and induce a little bit of anxiety, I know it did for me when I first heard it and then later did it.

First map out your book. Make sure that you have a story and can see how it ends. After you have mapped out your book start marketing!

Yes, I know, what do I mean market a book that doesn’t exist yet? It is wild and I felt the same way too. What if I market and then I don’t finish the book or get bored halfway through? Or I market the idea of the book and no one is interested? Or my marketing is better than the final product and I seem like a fraud? These are all questions that will churn through your mind, well at least the questions that kept my mind churning.

I am asking you to breathe and think about this:

advice for writers, think outside the box

Map out your book

When you take real time and effort to map out your book and find out befre you settle into writing whether you have a story or not, you will begin to breathe easier.

Mapping out your book helps you figure where you are going and what themes exist in your book. Without too much detail, the themes in your future book are enough to help you market and warm people up to the idea of a book.

Please note: this is not the selling stage.

Start Marketing Your Book

This is the stage where you seek out social media groups that talk about some of the themes in your future book and you offer helpful insights (taken from the research for your book, right?). This is where you use your knowledge of the themes/topics and offer people help. Yes, this is marketing and building an asset.

This also where you pose questions regarding what people would want to see in a book with your themes etc. (This is the part that I am about to embark on although my readers have already sent me what they would like to see happen next…).

At this stage, you should also have an author’s website or a place where your potential readers can engage with you privately. And this is necessary for you because these are the people who can help you with your book.

The first “adopters” meaning the people who get on your bandwagon early are the people you can gift with your Advanced Reader Copy (ARC), (these MUST be electronic copies, to people you have expressly told not to share with others – add a watermark if necessary- so you can keep costs low or non-existent). These people can help you refine your book and they are great for early book reviews.

And once you have book reviews, we enter the world that doesn’t necessarily need funding.


Preorders are a great way to make sure you don’t spend your own money on printing books. And if you have done your marketing right and have put together a solid team of ARC readers then your reviews will be gold to help you market for pre-order sales.

It is ideal to start your pre-order run at least 8 weeks before you publish ( I am dishing out advice that I now wish I had taken, LOL). When you have more than enough time to get money in, it helps you secure your printer’s quotation and the more pre-orders you get you are then able to reduce your printing costs. Don’t be scared to keep asking your printer’s for quotes, it is your responsibility to get the best deal, which you can then pass down to your customers.

The earlier you start with pre-orders, the better. And by early I mean before you even finish your book! Yes, it is scary but also, as a self-published author, this will help you with accountability. When you have set a date for a product to launch, you then have a focus to get it done.

To wrap up, the simple way to publish without spending money on printing you MUST have a pre-order period. Yes, it is not easy because you have to do all the other steps before you even get to pre-orders, but it is simple, it is doable and a great habit to get into for your future books.

Now over to you: what did you find useful?

Leave your comment in the comment section and let’s all learn from each other…

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