When I published my first book, I didn’t see my writing as a business. It was just me doing what I’ve always wanted to do. However, as I began to learn and as I continue to learn, I quickly discovered why Self-Publishing requires so much work: It’s a business.
That doesn’t take away from the fun of it, but the realization did help me to become more organized. I quickly learned why no one was buying: I wasn’t working! Writing is working, technically, and I was doing plenty of that. However, I was not working on the skill of writing, researching my industry, understanding tips to help me to write better books, promoting, marketing, and everything in-between. I was writing, sure. But the business of writing? I didn’t even know it existed. I was a writer and that was all. When I got into the business of writing however, that’s when I became an author.
From the Mental EC Dictionary:
Writer – (noun) a. a person who writes b. a person who writes stories, letters, books, manuscripts, manuals, c. a creative person who enjoys writing things down d. an artist who paints pictures with words
Self-Published Author (noun) – a. a person who finances, publishes, markets, and promotes their writing; b. a writer whose job is to publish books, may include attending book signing events, interviews, applying for grants, entering contests, etc., c. entrepreneur d. writer who paints pictures with words and then sends them out into the world.
Investment – The key here is to start out strong. Save your money. I don’t hear much about this part of Book Publishing but it’s a mistake to think about the financial aspect of book publishing during the publishing process. Everyone remember the 6 ps? Say it with me: “Proper Planning Prevents Pissed Poor Performance.” There’s nothing like a strong foundation so save your money. Investment doesn’t have to be a scary term. It’s not like you’re buying stocks. Investment just means to put money toward a product, or service for profitable or material gain. To keep it simple: You’re saving money to go toward your writing to increase the chances of you making a profit. You will need to pay for book cover design, editing, formatting, and the cost of print books, business cards, book marks, and promotional items, all of which increases the books chances of selling and i.e. you making a profit. While there are tons of free ways to produce all of these to some extent, you always get what you pay for. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but for a truly professional outcome it’s going to cost you some investment. Let’s face it; no one wants their books to look bootleg (at least no one should). Createspace’s available books cover freebies? I don’t think so. There are just too many books to choose from to take the easy route. Cover design is the difference between me deciding to read your book and make a sandwich.
Author Platform – This is by far the most important part of your journey. Before you publish your book, make sure you have either a blog or website that showcases your writing and personality to some extent. This is the most powerful way for people to get to know you. Why should people get to know you? Because you are not just a writer. You are going from Writer to Self-Published Author my friend. No longer do you just paint pictures with words, but you are about to send them out into the world. But first, you need to introduce yourself to all of your potential readers. I suppose you don’t need to start a blog but in my experience The PBS Blog has contributed greatly to my career more so than Facebook and my Author Website. Yes, Facebook. Here’s the truth: To succeed on Facebook is going to cost you some serious cash. With Facebook’s constantly changing updates and policies, it’s easier to work on building a successful blog where every new post has the potential to attract hundreds of readers and followers who will be tuned into your writing on a daily basis and it only cost you time (and maybe a few dollars for a domain name if you want to upgrade your space). On the other hand, you could always work like a Hebrew slave for a few likes to a page no one will pay attention to 50% of the time and in some cases, no one will see.
Social Media – Part of the author platform, set up your social media pages before publishing your book, not after. Primarily, set up a Facebook Page or Group, Instagram, and Twitter account. YouTube is another platform, and Pinterest is another. These are some basic social platforms but do not be deceived by the hype: They won’t all work for you. It’s easy to get sucked into the hype and be tempted to be everywhere but this is not a good idea. Instagram may work for some but that doesn’t mean it will work for you. Same thing with Facebook and Twitter. Don’t try to force your way into succeeding on a platform that just isn’t you. Instead, find your home base. That place where your readers are and where you receive the most value. This means identifying your target audience and then placing yourself in the places they are.
Finally, I cannot leave out your most important investment: Time.
At the end of the day the books that sell are the books that are well written. This means that with all of the advice out there, at the end of the day it is still about the story. Make sure you’re putting time into your writing.