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The Winnings, Warnings and Words of Wisdom of A Self-published Author

I learnt; I wrote. And I am still earning.

Go ahead, Google me. Don’t worry; I did that almost every day for about two weeks.

Oh! The name is Stober. Dunstan Ayodele Stober

Finally, one of the search results for Dunstan Ayodele Stober is the link below to my book on Amazon.

It feels amazing to be on Amazon. And it all started with my love for books.

I walk into a bookstore just for the sound and smell of fresh pages flipping. I developed the love for books in my tender years growing up with my self-taught grandma. My gran treasured her book collection, which included a set of Encyclopedia – the search engine back in the days. She also had books like My Book of Bible Stories,  a few Mills and Boon novels and other second books she bought from the “ground bookshop.” The final hook on books came when a Plan International scholarship gave me the pleasure of holding spanking new school textbooks. Blinkist, Audible and Amazon Kindle are no fitting substitutes for the touch and feel of the printed material. Yes, I agree. I am old school, but hear me out.

My fascination for print came nowhere close to my admiration for authors.

To my young and inexperienced adolescent mind, authors were like superheroes. People listen to them. They influence the world view of their topics. They have authority; no wonder we call them authors. Then I started dreaming of becoming a “superhero.” I daydreamed in bookstores staring into an imaginary array of books bearing my name.

“One day, people will walk into a bookshop to buy my books.” I used to tell my young self. But, that dream started to wane with the passing of my adolescent years. And the following “logical” questions became slow dream killers, planting seeds of doubt in my mind.

  • What undiscovered topic would I write about that was groundbreaking?
  • How do I build the authority to write about anything?
  • Do I have any stories to tell?
  • Even if I did, why would anyone want to read my book?
  • Who would want to publish a book from an unknown person like me?

Those questions and many other insecurities paved the way to the cemetery where my author’s dream would lay.

Well, not quite.

Blogging threw my dream a lifeline. Around 2015/16, I launched my first blogging site on WordPress to pour out reflections on my childhood and my mother’s influence on my work, career and business. The readership of my blogs started growing, and the comments were flowing in. I had resurrected my passion for writing. The growth of my blog partially answered one of the questions.

Yes, people would read my stories. But was that enough for a book?

I had never seen a “small” book before. And I thought the more voluminous the book, the more authentic it will be to readers. So, I reached out to the present day Encyclopaedia (Google) to research every perceivable topic about writing and publishing. The research led me to the world of self-publishing.

There you go – another answer to one of my dream-killing questions. I can publish myself if no one would do it.

That discovery released the genie that brought my first book to the Profound bookstore in Johannesburg and listed in the Amazon’s online and print stores.

“Joy Has Come Home” was over three years in the making, including almost a year of hibernation. The remaining unanswered questions kept fueling self-doubt, leading to three versions of the manuscript. Yet, I was not sure the material was good enough to be put out there. Eventually, I summoned the courage to share the manuscript with an editor to review. His feedback was as reassuring as it was liberating. I realised I was not the only one fighting the impostor syndrome and other debilitating insecurities and feelings of inadequacy.

“This is a brilliant work that the world deserves to read,” paraphrasing my editor. He assured me the material was enough for a book. And that there are no hard and fast rules for minimum pages for a book. “You don’t need a publisher”, he assured me, reconfirming my research on the subject. And the journey to publishing Joy Has Come Home validated the majority, if not all, of my findings.

My editor was open and honest in laying out some misconceptions and misleading literature about self-publishing to set the right expectations and to ensure a rewarding experience.

In my first experience, I found the following warnings to be valid.

  • You cannot do self-publishing alone.

There is a difference between self and alone. I worked with experts in various areas, from editing to proofreading and printing. And I could not have done it without the support of my family and an incredible group of friends.

 Self-publishing is not cheaper than traditional publishing.

I paid for everything that would have been on a publisher’s tab. Book cover design, typesetting, and formatting all come with $ next to them. And someone’s got to pay. In self-publishing, that someone is you.

 Self-publishing is not easier than traditional publishing.

In traditional publishing, I imagine you hand in your manuscript and let the professionals go to work while you put your feet up. I hope not because that was certainly not the case when I decided to go indie. Although I engaged experts, the buck stopped with me. That meant many meetings, follow-ups and some disappointments.

But, if you are thinking of going indie, do not let these warnings dissuade you. As they did for me, I set them out to help you calibrate your expectations and take the proper steps to ensure you succeed. And there are wins to enjoy. Below are my top three wins from my first experience.

I was in control of the creative process.

My voice, my choice!

I have experts to advise, but I decide, from the colour and grammage of the paper for print to the big launch event and every detail in between.

I set out and achieved a faster time to market.

A traditional publisher would take upwards of 12 to 24 months to get you published from the date they accept your manuscript. I published in less than a year without a self-publishing agency. Yep! You can hire a self-publishing agency – not the same thing as a traditional publisher.

Yes! I control sales, and I own the money.

I take 100% of my income from Amazon. I get a higher percentage of sales from bookstores than I would with a traditional publisher. Psst! I sell paperback copies directly from my living room, the trunk of my car and our business outlets.

There you have it. Like all things in life, self-publishing has its pluses and minuses. To go indie or not to go will depend on your unique situation and preferences from one book to the next. I just read that the J K Rowling will be going indie after using the traditional route for the Harry Potter series (lookup Pottermore). I make this point to show you that there is no one-size-fits-all option. You can try out different options for different circumstances.

The reward of having creative control and a faster time to market means I will be self-publishing my next book.

But before you get to decide on your publishing option, make sure you cover the following seven pieces of advice I picked up during my journey.

Get Your Copy of Joy Has Come Home

Dunstan Ayodele Stober is a passionate African, qualified chartered accountant, coach, mentor and leader and a man who celebrates learning from everything he does. He was born and raised in Sierra Leone and despite many opportunities to build his career in Europe, he intentionally chose to develop his career in Africa. Over the course of his career he has worked in multinational companies in Sierra Leona, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Myanmar and now in Afghanistan as chief Financial Officer, of a major telecoms company. He is a driven leader, skilled in developing effective and productive teams. He has an insatiable curiosity about the world and an intuition that has guided him to make decisions that most people would consider risky. More than that, however, he is intrinsically a coach with a vision that drives him to make a difference in the lives of everyone around him.

 

Click here to order his book.

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