A few years ago, writer’s blogs and sites furiously debated the future of the publishing industry. While it has in no way become extinct, the opportunities for a writer to self-publish their work has forced the large publishing houses to rethink their strategies and widened the choices for writers.
The pathway to having a published work is still a journey many emerging writers are challenged with, as its quickly realized that its not as simple as throwing a cover together on Microsoft paint, converting the document into PDF, loading it up onto Createspace and praying to the gods someone will notice (and buy) it at its ranking of 50000000001. Sadly, many new authors burst into the scene this way and discouraged by the lack of success, drift away from their passion.
There is still a huge stigma associated with being self-published to overcome, so its important not to give potential readers any reason to question the quality of your work.
Some of the most valuable advice about self-publishing was something I heard when attending a workshop led by mainstream publishers. They suggest conducting yourself everyday as if you’re actually working with a traditional publisher and to hold your time and work to high standards, along with all aspects of your business of writing. By having this mindset when you self publish a book, you set yourself up for success.
A platform is the public space which gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with your audience. Most often, its a Facebook fan page, a website with an interactive blog, twitter or combinations of these tools. It’s important to be able to interact with fans and to be reactive to feedback. By being able to gauge your fans’ interest, you are able to create a book specifically for them – which is why, then, they will buy it and continually follow your work. Practically, of course, you don’t write a book for a specific fan, rather for the general feelings and needs of those you interact with. Its no good, for example, to self-publish a book on the history of the steam engine in Gloucester, if your fan base is predominantly 15 year old girls obsessed with vampires. A strong platform is the foundation for a successful self-published book.
The way to build this is to start a blog, podcast, web/YouTube show, and build your strong group of fans who regularly check in, share and comment in your contributions.
2. Share your passion
Don’t write just because you think it will sell well. Just because erotica is selling well now, if you blush at the thought of writing a kissing scene, it may be best to stick with genres you are comfortable with.
Most writers start scribing because they want to share their passion on a certain subject or area. Don ‘t be swallowed by the echo chamber of mainstream publishing. It’s important to explore your passions and interests within your writing and to have a clear and strong opinion. Regardless of what genre is fashionable right now, if your voice is strong, your book will stand out.
Traditional publishers have multiple editors and proofreaders working with your book before it hits the shelf. However, even the large publishing houses have produced books with noticeable typos in them. It’s vital to invest in an editor; after all, you have invested a great deal of time writing. Even if you’re the best proofreader in the world, it’s almost impossible to spot your own mistakes. .
4. Cover Design
The first thing a potential reader and fan will see on Amazon or in a bookstore is the cover. If you’re competent in graphic design, then you can produce your own cover. If not, don’t hesitate to hire a freelance designer. A self-published book can look very tacky and amateurish with a substandard cover, bringing your reputation down.
5. Marketing Plan
Don’t think that once your book has been written, edited, laid out, proofread and formatted that the work is all done. Hopefully, you will have been busy building and strengthening your platform. Even if you have written the greatest book in the world, without exposure and an extended marketing plan, your sales will plummet.
Your marketing plan needs to involve promotion and reviews.
When the book is released, you’ll need people to help you spread the word. This might include fellow bloggers and other writers happy to help you and who are truly engaged with your work. You’re better off with 10 promoters who will go out of their way to help you, then 100 who are just looking for a free book.
Promoters can be just about anybody who would benefit from the book. Either way, promoters need big fan bases either as an email system, twitter or on Facebook. It’s important to build your group of promoters well before your book launches.
On Amazon book reviews matter. The number of reviews on a book are judged as a strong indicator of social proof. As you get more reviews, the visibility of your book rises.
There are a number of varying thoughts on free promotions. While some utilize this strategy to discount their books and offer lower price points, others give away their books for free in order to gain more fans.
Giving away your book during its initial launch, or over a specific time period, can lead to thousands of people finding out about your work. It’s a great way to raise awareness of your book and generate lots of reviews.
If you sign up for KDP, Amazon allows you to give away copies of your book for 5 days in any 90 day period. At the moment, you can use those five days all at once or specify certain days.
GUESTS POSTS AND INTERVIEWS
Blogs, podcasts, you tube and other channels are the new media outlets which have the potential of reaching thousands of people at a very low cost.
Write a guest posts for other writers’ sites and review sites where thousands of people might see it. Be mindful that the content of the post must be relevant to the intended audience of the site and if it’s just a pitch for your book, it will be seen as such. Give the audience value and information rather than a sales pitch.
While traditional publishing still provides a certain layer of credibility to your work, self-publishing is creating opportunities for writers to reach audiences they may never have been able to reach in the past. With the way the industry and audiences are moving, it won’t be too long before the stigma goes away. I heard an analogy of comparing self-published authors to fine wines which is relevant here. There are people out there who will only ever buy the bulk produced wines. Just as there are people who will seek out crafted and exquisite wines from tiny wineries. One type of wine is only better than the other depending on the consumer’s perspective.
You can stop waiting to be picked up at random by a big publishing house. Forge your own way. Share your message with the world through self publishing. Just don’t assume it’s going to be an easy journey.