Everyone wants to know the “secret sauce,” the precise steps they must take to become a successful self-published author. While there are no hard and fast rules that will work equally for everyone, here are six basic commandments for self-publishing success.
#1: Learn all you can about the craft of writing and study your intended audience BEFORE you begin.
This should go without saying, but a lot of writers, thinking their golden prose is the best thing since Shakespeare, go into this thing flying blind. As a result, their first efforts aren’t very good. This is okay. It doesn’t mean you’ll never make it. It just means you have to write a lot of crap before you reach a level where others will want to pay for what you write. The good news is, there’s help out there in the form of books, blogs, and courses for whatever area of your writing needs the most work.
#2. Study your intended audience and your competition BEFORE you begin.
Never begin writing a book without first researching your intended audience, and your best selling competition. Only then will you know what your targeted readers want, and what they’ll buy.
#3: Write good books, not garbage.
A common misconception is that you’ll make money by simply putting any book up for sale online. Not true. You can’t just throw up any old thing on the Internet, and expect it to start selling. To build a career, you must write the best books you can.
#4: Write good books fast.
Traditional publishing moves very slowly. Even if you can write fast, you’re still going to have to wait at least a year between book releases. Not so with self-publishing! You can publish as many times as you want. And, the more often you have a new release, the more money you can make. But, they still have to be good. See tip #2. There’s no getting around that rule.
#5: Hire a professional editor.
You will make mistakes. You will have typos in your manuscript, or subplots that go nowhere. And, you will not catch them all in successive readings. That’s why you need to invest in a good editor who can help you clean up your manuscript. Remember that anybody can hang up a virtual shingle on the Internet, and call themselves an editor. Some of these individuals create more errors than they correct. There’s a list of excellent editors HERE.
#6 Define What “Success” Means for You
If you want to sell a million copies your first month, and have everything you write turned into a major motion picture, you’re going to be disappointed. You’ll likely have a better chance of winning the lottery, even if your book was traditionally published. Instead of worrying about what a few outliers are doing, define your own success. There are writers out there right now who aren’t millionaires but they were still able to quit their day jobs, and do what they love for a living. You can be one of them, too.
You must define your own achievements, instead of chasing after someone else’s idea of success.
James Palmer is a freelance writer, editor and publisher. He is author of the nonfiction e-book How to Write Faster! 30 Tips and Tricks for Writing More Books in Less Time, and the fiction book Slow Djinn. He is also the editor and co-creator of the giant monster anthology Monster Earth and its sequel, Betrayal on Monster Earth.
Ask Angela About Self-Publishing
Angela Hoy is not only publisher of WritersWeekly.com, she's also co-owner of self-publishing services firm BookLocker.com and works directly with each author. That's right, you work directly with the owner of BookLocker. No revolving customer service reps, no layers of bureaucracy to navigate, and absolutely no outsourcing to low-paying overseas call centers. We don't use call centers or telemarketing at all. You will never be shuffled from one "customer service rep" to another because we don't have any of those. You will communicate directly with Angela about any needs you have at all, as well as Richard (book marketing advice), Brian (ebooks and technical issues), Ali (print formatting), Gwen (color-interior books) and Todd or Nancy (our awesome cover designers).
Since we are selective about which books we publish, we are able to work with every author one-on-one. In the past 18 years, BookLocker has published more than 9,000 titles.
Angela's been in the print-on-demand and self-publishing business for nearly two decades. She's seen it all, and is a great source of information. To ask her anything click here.