Millions of writers are pursuing their dreams by self-publishing. While I wouldn’t discourage anyone from chasing their dream, I would like to encourage you to think about your dream in a different way.
More than anything else, publishing has always been a business. If the business doesn’t turn a profit, then it won’t be alive for long. That’s as true of self-publishing as it is any other type of publishing, or any type of business.
For that reason, self-published authors should approach their writing like a business.
To manage your business well, you have to remove your writer’s hat and put on your business manager’s hat.
What Is Your Product?
If you write fiction and you self-publish a novel, then your novel is your product. If you publish a book of poems, that’s your product. A journalist may self-publish an essay on a topic of cultural concern. That’s a product. Anything you publish under your name or the name of your fictitious entity (pen name, publishing company name, etc.) is a product. Your top priority is to make your product attractive.
Publishers have to think about a lot of things that influence the profitability of their final product, such as:
+ Is the novel, book of poems, essay, or writing project as near perfect as it can be in its expressions, grammar, spelling, and genre elements? In other words, will readers like it and recommend it to their friends?
+ Is the cover of the highest quality and does it represent your product well?
+ What is your marketing strategy?
+ Does your marketing strategy include a blog?
+ Are you sending out review copies?
+ How will you distribute your final product?
Publishing Is The First Step On Your Book’s Journey To Success
There is more to publishing than seeing your book in print or compiling it into an e-book. One of the biggest pieces of your self-publishing venture is marketing. If you do it well, you’ll sell a lot of books. If you don’t, you could be looking for a new job by Christmas.
Here are five things you must do well to succeed at marketing as a self-published author:
1. Editing. A book full of errors will not succeed. If you can’t edit your own work, invest in a good book editor. This will cost you some money, but it’s worth it.
2. Create a great cover. This starts with your choice of cover artist. Expect to pay several hundred to a thousand dollars or more for a good book cover. (BookLocker.com only charges $200 for original cover design.)
3. Promotion. Don’t think sending out a press release is enough. Start with creating your synopsis. You should be able to tell anyone anywhere what your book is about in 30 seconds. (Also, see 90 DAYS OF PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ONLINE: Your Book’s Daily Marketing Plan.)
4. Distribution. Choose a publisher with a good distribution network. Distribution by Ingram (the largest book distributor) is considered essential for success.
5. Branding. Even if you have only one book, you are a brand. Your blog, your social media presence, your book cover, everything you do should be consistent with your voice and positioning as a writer-entrepreneur.
Study how other writers and publishers handle these five pillars of book publishing. And, be prepared to follow up your first book with another one. Authors with multiple products have a better chance at success.
Allen Taylor is the author of several self-published e-books available for the Kindle at Amazon.com. He shares his thoughts on self-publishing, the literary life, and online marketing for authors at http://tayloredcontent.com/blog/.
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.