I have to admit, I went in pretty starry-eyed. Thoughts of instant fame and mounds of royalties danced through my head. Jetting across the country to book events, guesting on radio and television shows, wearing out Sharpie after Sharpie signing autographs.

I suppose you can guess where this is going.

Here are five things I learned from self-publishing. Fear not, intrepid writer. They’re not all bad. And even the bad ones have a silver lining.

1. You’re alone. Do you think your self-publishing company will help you promote? Nope. Unless you buy one or more of their overpriced marketing services (and on a side note, don’t do it), all promotion will be up to you.

Truth be told, I learned that, unless you’re already a proven success, even traditional publishers hesitate to budget for a new author’s marketing campaign.

Silver Lining? You’re forced to get up and get out there. I went from knowing nothing about book marketing to mastering Social Media marketing, arranging a book tour, visiting writers’ groups, and holding events to spread the word. And I sold a lot of books as a result.

2. Preparation is key. I didn’t know any editors when I finished my manuscript. But that was okay – the publishing house had their own. And I can’t really complain about the job they did – my manuscript was polished and ready to publish when we were done with it. Raincloud received great reviews that I’m quite proud of.

But, like their marketing services, editing through the publishing house is expensive. I recommend seeking out an editor before approaching any publisher. Besides, there’s nothing like dealing with someone in the flesh. New “live” contacts are always great.

3. Don’t quit that day job. Studies show that few self-published authors make any appreciable money. Especially when you weigh sales against your production costs, the chances of living solely off of book royalties are slim.

I read somewhere that an author has to publish four moderately-selling books just to live at the poverty line. It’s a sobering thought.

If it makes you feel any better very few traditionally-published authors buy swimming pools with their first book.

My advice? Write because you love to write, not because you want to retire.

4. You’re stigmatized. Yes, unfortunately they’ll always be that part of the book world that will look down their noses at you, be they retailers, publishers, readers, or even other authors. This is because anyone can publish anything they want these days, resulting in a huge number of written works that are of sub-par quality. And you might find yourself lumped in with them, guilty by association, as it were.

I did. I still do, no matter how many accolades my work gets.

Silver lining? It made me that more determined to prove myself. I now have a loyal readership who couldn’t care less if I’m self-pubbed or not. They only want quality writing, which I’m happy to give.

5. You learn about yourself. You really do, you know. You find out how what you’re capable of, how far you’re really willing to go. And you find out why you do what you do.

And those lessons extend beyond the publishing world. It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there in the world and risk getting knocked down. But if you stand tall and believe in what you do, you’ll never fail.

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!