Saturday, February 20, 2016

#1 Rule for Independent Publishing Success

Since the book is getting closer and closer to release, I've been doing a lot of research on how to actually succeed at self-publishing.

Now, I know that it's all ebook sales or print-on-demand these days, so even selling one copy is "success" of a sort.  That's comforting and all, but I, for one, don't want to stop there.  Books are made to be read, and I'd like to get this thing into the hands of as many people as possible so that they can enjoy it too.

So, recently I've been reading all this advice from blogs, books, ebooks, articles, and so on until my eyes bugged out.  In doing so I've got quite a laundry list of advice (a good chunk is even contradictory).  Being the nerd I am, I wanted to distill it all down to its essence; to one concise statement that can cover the smaller tips and even more that nobody has thought of.

What I cam up with was this:
Publicity gets the snowball rolling, but quality keeps it going.

Some things I have to say about that.  

First, "publicity".  I'd say most independent authors fail here because:
  A) It seems tackiness and commercialism to go around tooting your horn, demanding attention.
  B) We just don't want to.  We want to write, not sell stuff.

Sadly, however, it is necessary.  If nobody hears about our book, nobody will buy it.  Simple as that.
We need to make the rounds: 
  • Send out advance copies to reviewers in radio, blogs, newspapers, and magazines
  • Do interviews, talk to people, hand out business cards
  • Do promos, advertise
  • Generally tell everyone and everything that will listen, "I've got a book, and it's AWESOME!"
"Quality"  All the best advertising in the world might get an initial spike in sales, but soon those bad Amazon reviews start pouring in, and people certainly won't tell their friends.

Most independents think they are good on this.  But we're wrong.

Two big things that come up over, and over, and over again are:
  • Professional quality book cover (including description and title)
  • Having one or more actual, professional edits.
The biggest mistake: cutting corners and thinking, "I can do it myself and save some money".  Not true! 

Think of a book as a business venture (this applies equally to both things above).  We need to plan to invest appropriately in it if we hope to make money off it.

Finally, "Snowball" is where it all comes together.  You know, like in the cartoons how the snowball starts small at the top of the hill and then sticks to more and more snow as it rolls down, becoming a comically gigantic boulder.  Books are like that too.  

I hit on it a little above, but word-of-mouth is really what keeps the thing going.  (And quality = word-of-mouth.)  Think about it.  Even the best advertising is really only reaching the person who sees it and chooses to act.  Much more valuable is when the person who reads it tells all of their friends.

If things go really well, you get the exponential effect:  I read the book and tell two friends, they each tell two friends, etc, etc.  Pretty soon you have a runaway nuclear reaction.  (I mean that in a good way, of course.)

So that's what I came up with.
Now comes the hard part for me -- doing it!


Live YOUR adventure!
  -E.L. Fletcher