I consider myself a veteran self-published author because my first book came out in 2002 and back then there was no such thing as digital publishing. I had to pay for printing, shipping and storage cost on top of all of the other costs associated with publishing your own book.
There was no Facebook or Twitter and YouTube didn't even exist back then.
It's been fascinating to watch the evolution of publishing and digital publishing and although it's far easier today to publish a book than ever before, don't listen to all these wanna-be-guru publishers who say it's as easy as colouring.
Self-publishing is a lot of work and when done well, it can surely offer you an incredible opportunity to take control over your own destiny, but by all means, it's not a magic pill.
There are a lot of moving parts involved in self-publishing and if you don't love marketing, you're going to have to learn really quickly to develop an affinity for it or else you won't have any chances of getting your book noticed.
If you're considering getting into the self-publishing arena, there are a few things to keep in mind before you get started:
1. There's no such thing as instant success.
You can blog and tweet and Facebook and Tumblr and Pinterest and do a blog tour and shoot book trailers and do loads of YouTube videos and beg for reviews on Amazon, but that doesn't guarantee you'll sell loads of books in a matter of weeks. There are good chances if you have a strategic book marketing plan, you'll get sales and potentially land in the top seller's chart, but it's not one strategy that will get there, it's a sophisticated combination of strategies.
When you self-publish, it's to boost your business and credibility and that may take a long time. You have to be committed to marketing for one full year to start moving the numbers that will start affecting your business long term.
That said, it's worth it and the sooner you start your marketing, the better off you'll be.
Remember, there are tens of thousands of other indie and traditional publishers who are out there trying to grab people's attention.
Another thing about book sales, having your book and being able to say you're a published author is amazing, but having a book that actually sells and helps grow your business is even better. The only way you'll increase your sales is by doing focused and strategic marketing.
2. Many self-published authors earn less than $500 a year.
If your goal is to publish a book to promote your business, you'll want to take people from your Amazon page to your own site where you offer a high value free product that will entice people to get on your list and engage with you more. Honestly, Amazon is an incredible place to get a lot of hot new clients, but you have to have a system in place while writing your book to ensure you can get as many people from Amazon to your own website -- that's when the magic of Amazon really happens.
3. Fifty Shades of Grey you're not!
Few non-fiction authors will strike gold like the lucky author of this blockbuster book. It's well known that the quality of the writing is fairly poor, but that didn't prevent the author, E.L. James, from selling over 10-million copies within six months.
This book became a moving machine that had no boundaries and made the author extremely rich.
That's why for a non-fiction author it's so important to have a business behind the book because few fiction authors ever experience the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, let alone non-fiction ones.
4. Don't adopt the "self-publishing" look!
Just because you self publish doesn't mean you should do a careless and sloppy job of it. You should get your book cover professionally designed, you should read your book out loud during every round of editing, you should then hire a professional proofreader, you should spend time writing the description of your book with care for your Kindle or Amazon description page and you should either buy a professional template to type set the book or hire a designer who will do it for you. These are all little things that are within your control and can make a huge difference in your overall sales.
If you're a professional and intend on using the book to promote yourself, make sure you'd be proud to sign your name to the book. It's worth spending money on professionals who have years of experience in the book industry.
5. Don't expect your family to buy your books.
So many self-published authors think that their friends and family will become their biggest clients or that they'll become a sales force. Another mistake is to think that a lot of their Facebook connections as "real" friends. Unless you only accept friends, family members and old schoolmates, chances are that your connections of Facebook are complete strangers. Your friends and family members will surely support your dream, but they are under no obligation to financially fund it or peddle your books on your behalf. As you're writing your book, you should already be thinking of how you'll market it to the widest possible audience of targeted ideal readers.
6. There's no one magic formula.
Every author has his or her own recipe for success and that recipe might not translate as well for you. The best way to approach your book marketing efforts is to never put all of your eggs in one basket and to expand your reach -- both online and offline to ensure that you give your book the best chances for success.
Self-publishing can be an incredible experience, but if you're going to do it, you need to go into it with the right expectations. You also have to know in advance that you'll have to do work to promote your book and that success doesn't come overnight -- no matter what you read on the Internet.
Nothing worthwhile happens by magic or by sitting around and thinking or contemplating, you need to be ready to roll up your sleeve and work harder than you ever have. That said, the success you'll derive from proactively marketing your book and the lives you'll change with your message far surpasses the discomfort of the amount of work self-publishers need to do to get noticed and get book sales.
Signing up with a publisher has its merits, but few people will ever get there or if they do it might take years -- precious time they could be building their own tribe of faithful readers via self-publishing. With self-publishing, you can adopt the work ethic of a big publisher, but you retain control over a lot of important things that can positively impact your business growth!
If you have a book inside you, go into self-publishing with realistic expectations and you'll be fine.
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