How I Published a Popular Book at the Age of 23 Without Agent + Best Advice

My second book, Life Between Moments, took 11 months to write while working full time as a reporter at Insider.

Life Between Moments: Stories of New York by Phil Rosen.

Phil Rosen / Inside

Last August when I turned 25, I started writing two fiction stories a month for about a year. I did this in parallel with my job as the lead markets reporter at Insider.

I was more disciplined in my writing schedule than my first book, which was an Amazon bestseller, but took nearly two years to write.

After work every day, I would write a 30-minute novel. Doing this for 44 consecutive weeks helped me put together 19 short stories, or about 50,000 words.

“Life Between Moments” includes 12 of these anecdotes. It is a collection of stories about ordinary people navigating work and relationships in New York, framed in the form of excerpts from life.

For me, the key to writing a book is showing up every day without missing a beat. Words pile up faster than you think – as long as you don’t skip the days.

After I finished writing and editing my book, I made marketing a priority.

Phil Rosen Life Between Moments Marketing Book Canva

I’ve used Canva to make graphics and marketing materials for my book.

Phil Rosen / Inside

I kept my previous book as a surprise until publication day.

Fortunately, it still topped the Amazon charts and found an audience, but I knew I couldn’t rely on the same tactics twice.

This time around, I wanted to make sure there was plenty of other stuff online to boost search engine optimization, something that helps something show up in Google search results.

Similar to my first book, I was the publisher, editor, marketing director, design team, and business consultant. But I had a few extra things I wanted to do differently.

I aimed to create an online conversation about my book before launch day.

Life Between Moments New York Stories by Phil Rosen

The Goodreads page for “Life Between Moments: New York Stories.”

Phil Rosen / Inside

About a month before publication, I uploaded my book to Goodreads, which is like social media for book lovers. There, readers review books and add them to their reading lists.

This platform has millions of users who are passionate about books. Plus, I knew adding the book here would help get it in front of more readers as well as in Google search results.

I wrote a series of blog posts talking about my book prior to publishing.

Life Between Moments: Stories of New York, Phil Rosen

This is what some of my blog posts looked like before launch day.

Phil Rosen / Inside

I started my website in 2018 and write about culture, books, and personal development. And before my book came out, I started writing a lot of articles about it and my writing process.

By posting posts that casually mention my book with a focus on writing habits, time management and goal setting for authors, I aimed to share my own experience while creating momentum for my book.

This resulted in better Google search rankings for my book and doubled as marketing. Readers who found my blog also found my book.

I’ve shared more early publishing steps this time around.

Phil Rosen The Life Between Moments: Stories of New York

A proud moment for the author when I received my first rough drafts.

Phil Rosen / Inside

She unveils cover art on Instagram Stories and posts, gives a sneak peek into the publishing process, and reiterates when the book will be available and where to buy it.

I’ve written the monthly newsletter for my blog since 2019, but last year I shared work through it on a weekly basis. I aimed to improve being a writer, develop my voice, and build a closer relationship with my readers.

For years, I’ve been using WordPress for my blog platform and my newsletter was built on my email app, MailChimp.

I also prioritized graphics six months before the launch of my book.

Living in Canva Between Moments in New York Stories by Phil Rosen

I made dozens of designs before deciding on my final cover.

Phil Rosen / Inside

I’ve never formally trained as a graphic designer and don’t have anyone to help me with my marketing – so my favorite tool has been Canva for a long time.

I use this design tool along with Adobe Photoshop, but I prefer Canva because it’s more user-friendly. I used it to design my book covers as well as dozens of other graphics.

I particularly like Canva’s Smartmockup feature, which allows you to make digital copies of your book, in realistic settings.

I have also made banners and graphics for my social media on LinkedIn and Twitter.

I also made a lot of physical marketing items.

Life Between Moments, New York Stories by Phil Rosen

People were given custom bookmarks and keychains.

Phil Rosen / Inside

I used my Canva designs to print my own bookmarks and keychains for personal marketing.

I treat these items like the most interesting and memorable business cards because they are so easy to share. I’ve saved these things in coffee shops and between my professional and personal circles.

I didn’t do any of this in my first book.

The self-publishing path has twice succeeded in my writing.

Life Between Moments: Stories of New York by Phil Rosen

The author with an early book draft of “Life Between Moments”.

Phil Rosen / Inside

I chose to publish my books myself with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing because of the speed and accessibility. There are no physical barriers to entry, other than doing the work.

While self-publishing lacks in some ways the prestige of traditional publishers, it offers a larger royalty payment of around 60%-70%, versus 5%-15% with a traditional publisher.

In addition, self-publishing allows you to work on your own schedule.

I’ve heard of publishers sitting on books for more than a year, two or three years before going to print.

Seeing the final product that I created entirely on my own is a feeling like no other.

Phil Rosen Life Between Moments New York Stories

Happy author with many, many book drafts.

Phil Rosen / Inside

Thanks to its pre-release efforts, “Life Between Moments” was listed as the #1 new release on launch day, and achieved several best-selling ratings across various categories on Amazon.

After two books in two years, I became completely confident in my abilities in graphic design and marketing, as well as my publishing knowledge.

At 25, I taught myself skills from every step of book publishing – making me feel more confident as a writer than ever before.

Life Between Moments: Stories of New York, by Phil Rosen

Life Between Moments: Stories of New York is my second book – but it won’t be my last.

Phil Rosen / Inside

The skills I gained from producing my books translate into my work as a journalist and give me unique insight into the contemporary writing scene.

If I eventually move to traditional publishing, I know I’ll miss out on some of the creative freedom that I have when going after my own productions.

“Life Between Moments: New York Stories” is now available.

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