Know That Self-Publishing is Challenging
Set A Clear Intention For Your Book
If your objective is to create a book for friends and family, you will approach it in a completely different way than if it is your aim to become a full-time author-publisher. If you're commercially motivated, you'll make different choices than if creative or literary intentions are your top priority.
All writers love bookstores but they shouldn't be your concern at first. It's extremely difficult to get good placement in the store and unless you have an exceptional arrangement, you'll more than likely lose money, and a great deal of time. The reason self-publishing is flourishing today is down to online bookstores selling digital products. Learn what you need to know to sell the easy way (e-books) before moving on to the more challenging (p-books and a-books).
Know That Niche Books Do Best
Nonfiction books with a well-defined topic, good hook, attractive writing style and intelligently aimed at a target audience, succeed with relative ease. Fiction is tougher, and especially so unless you write genre fiction with a well-defined topic, good hook, attractive writing style aimed at a target audience. This is why romance, erotica, crime and fantasy do so well for author-publishers. These are also the genre that do best for trade publishing. Literary books and serious non-fiction like biography or history struggle in this marketplace, just as they do in trade fiction, unless the author has a following from another medium, e.g. teaching, journalism, TV.
Think About Your Reader and Your Writing
Connect your reach-out to readers with your deepest motives for writing the book in the first place.
- Question 1: Do I write chiefly to inform, inspire or entertain? The better the writing, the more it contains all three, but which is your chief motivation?
- Question 2: Whom do I most hope to interest, inspire or entertain? Again, the better the writing, the more it will move beyond our core cohort. But who is that core cohort? Which sex? What age? Nationality? Income? Interests? I urge you: don't just think the answers to these questions, write them out.
- Question 3: What other books do these readers read? What are the meeting points between those books and yours? If you were to overhear one of your readers saying, “I love x's books because they…..” how would you like them to complete that sentence.
- Question 4: Where are my readers online? As most of your sales will be ebooks or POD, and many of your readers will not be in your home territory, you must learn how to reach out to your readers online. Where are they on the Internet? No point in you being on Facebook if they are largely on LinkedIn or GoodReads or Pinterest. No point in addressing a forum of females if you write action-based, spy thrillers.
If you follow take the trouble to go where your readers are and reach out to them regularly, through social media (see below) or some other way, they will spontaneously want to share with you, learn from you, hear from you, grow with you. You will organically develop that author desirable: a strong author platform.
Make A Marketing Plan
Here's a great one that took ALLi Member, Rachel Abbott, to the Number One slot on Amazon
Set A Regular Time Daily And Weekly For Reaching Readers
Devote a few hours every week to thinking about readers and promotion. (Give it a name – Marketing Monday or whatever – and be consistent. Taking the time to review what has worked, make a new plan and keep moving forward is the key to enjoying the effort of reaching readers. Many authors do virtual book tours – reviews, interviews, posts at various blogs.
Prepare a good pitch (see Self-Publishing Advice Centre) and you also have options around social media, local press and radio, and special sales outlets to approach, and as many out-of-the-box, creative campaigns as you can dream up and are willing to follow through. These may not cost money but they do take time so self-publishers need to be organised.
Do not pay for any marketing until you have done the harder work of establishing who your reader is and finding them online. Paid Facebook ads campaigns can be successful but only with clarity, focus and trial and error. Ditto Google AdWords/Keywords. Placing ads in subject-related blogs and publications works better for most books than ads on review sites or book blogs.
One name consistently comes up among our members as the paid marketing that's worth investing in: Bookbub.
Remember that you're not alone on your self-publishing journey. ALLi offers resources specifically for the beginning author that will help you navigate the self-publishing decisions you need to make. Each month we host a Beginners' Self-Publishing Salon where indie authors Jay Artale and Michael La Ronn discuss the different stages of self-publishing and provide tools, tips and advice targeted at beginners.
We also host a monthly Members' Self-Publishing Q&A, and one of the benefits of your ALLi membership is that you can submit any question you like to indie authors Michael La Ronn and Dan Blank. There's no such thing as a stupid question. If you want to know about any self-publishing topic – just ask. Members can also post questions on our private Facebook Forum, where seasoned professionals are on hand to offer their tried and tested advice.