I’ve been self-publishing books since 2009, and I can’t claim to know how to make a million dollars doing it. Far as I can see, there are no clear, step-by-step guides on how to become a huge success as a self-published writer. However, I can tell you many ways not to do it.
1. Don’t treat your writing as you would any other business. In order to succeed as a writer, you should apply yourself to the task on a daily (or, at least, a regular) basis. Not just when inspiration moves you or whatever magical thing you think must happen does. You need to sit down, let your mind and inner editor go, and simply write something. That’ll do for a start, anyway.
2. Don’t bother studying your craft and honing your skills. It amazes me that I have to say this at all, but unfortunately there are still people who imagine that their words are so golden that they need no further improvement. That all they have to do is write something that vaguely resembles a story and the world couldn’t possibly fail to notice their innate talent and sheer genius. Once the book or books are out, it doesn’t take long to realize that just isn’t true.
3. Stay blissfully ignorant of social media and other technology. Writers may bitch and moan about how much they hate marketing, but it’s essential these days to market like crazy. The key is learning how to do it effectively. Not always an easy or self-evident task. You simply must set aside time for marketing, before or after the time you’ve set aside for writing. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to keep up with social media trends, new writing and publishing technologies, as well as ways to conserve your time and keep a tweeting, Facebooking, and blogging schedule. Not asking much, is it? Well … it’s a situation we ourselves have created. Once the gatekeepers were eliminated … wham! Suddenly, it was all bets off. Fortunately, there are options for creating a presence on the Web. The things you tweet and the way you tweet them matter. The sending of newsletters and what you focus on in them. These all tie in with what’s called your brand. But this all falls outside the scope of this post. It’s enough to say that one way not to self-publish books is to do so without regard for marketing and establishing your brand.
4. Pay no attention to reviewers, readers, or other authors. Surely, your brilliant words (in whatever manner you convey them) are enough to get you to the point where you’re rolling in dough. Obviously, this is wrong. As I said, marketing and brand building are key. Collaborating with other authors, such as joining with them to create book sets, can have great brand building and financial rewards. And what sells books better than word of mouth? Whether that comes from a reviewer (which is awesome) or a happy reader (which is really awesome), it makes little difference. If people like your work, you can and should let everyone know. They, in turn, will no doubt tell their book-reading friends about the great hitherto unknown author they’ve found.
5. Limit your interactions to those that only happen online. This has to be the worst advice ever. As important as having an online presence is, it’s not accomplished just by tweeting constantly or constantly updating your Facebook status. Going out and meeting people at signings and other events really does work. There is no replacement for meeting someone in the flesh. Even if they don’t buy your book, just meeting them and talking makes them more aware of you. In fact, at one signing I did at a coffee shop, the person who stopped at my table said she’d download the book. Was I disappointed she didn’t buy right then and there? Not really. My first thought may have been, “Oh, well,” but my second thought was, “Won’t that be great for my Amazon sales rank?” So … you see, either way, you win!
Having said all that, here are two articles you might find useful that talk about how to self-publish in even more detail: 7 Brutally Honest Self-Publishing Tips and 10 Things – silly and serious – about being a Full-time Author.
Finally, here’s my third (and final) video about self-publishing books. Period!
More to come on other topics! 🙂