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Top 10 Tips for Successful Self-Publishing by Barbara Freethy

I started the fantastic journey of self publishing in January of 2010. I started out slow, and it took a few months for sales to take off. Since then I’ve been immersed in this amazing new world. I’m excited to say that I’ve sold 2.8 million books in the last two years and I’m the first author to have sold over a million books at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Here are my top ten tips for finding success!

  1. WRITE MORE THAN ONE BOOK!
This is the more important piece of advice I can offer. It’s much easier to sell two books than to sell one. With more than one book, you will begin to develop a fan base. You’ll also be able to use pricing strategies with two or more books. You can offer one for a cheaper price to bring new readers in, and those readers who love your first book will be excited to have another one to read!
  1. HIRE PROFESSIONALS!
As a self-publisher, you’re responsible for building a team to support your book. That may include a cover artist, content editor, copy editor, proofreader, formatter, website designer, publicist, etc. You may need only one or two of these professionals or all of them. But it’s critical that your book be polished and professionally edited and formatted. Readers can be brutal, and it’s much better to take time up front to put together a great product than to read a lot of bad reviews about your book.
  1. DEVELOP A BRAND
Every author has a unique voice and a unique brand. You need to find yours and build on your brand with each new book. A great brand should be instantly recognizable, consistent and fluid enough to change with the market. You can brand through your cover, your title, name font, art concept and tone. Keep your brand consistent in every arena from your book covers to your website, social media outlets and email blasts. Readers will start recognize your look, your brand.
  1. UNDERSTAND THE POWER OF A SERIES
Readers love to get lost in a world and to return to that world over and over again. They like the connection between continuing characters. Keeping your series open-ended can be a good idea. If the series takes off, you’ll want to keep it going.
  1. PUBLISH FREQUENTLY!
Just as in traditional publishing, frequency of publication is crucial to building your name and your brand. Every time you release a new book, you will gain visibility not only with new readers but also previous readers. Ebook readers tend to devour books, and those readers appreciate and support writers who continue to bring out new work on a consistent basis. Find your sweet spot and make yourself a schedule that works with your life. Having a plan for publication will help you stay on track.
  1. EXPAND YOUR MARKET
Think big! The global market is expanding at a tremendous rate. Don’t get left behind. Consider translating some of your titles or talking to a foreign agent about licensing some of your works. Audio books are also available to self-publishers now through acx.com. You can audition and hire your own narrator. Put your book into print through one of the print on demand companies like Createspace. If you have a series of books, consider bundling those books together and making a boxed set. By taking your novel and working a lot of different areas, you will get more bang for your book!
  1. SELL DIRECT WHENEVER POSSIBLE
This strategy may not work for everyone, but for me, going direct to as many retailers as I can is key to my business model. I believe that you can build better relationships with retailers/merchandisers by taking advantage of their self-publishing platforms. It will be more work, but it can yield great results. You’ll also have the ability to change prices quickly, which can be great for running special promotions. There’s nothing wrong with working through a distributor if that’s more your style, but at least understand the restrictions and limitations that may come with that middleman.
  1. NETWORK!
Self-publishing authors are banding together like never before. There are many email loops that you can join to share tips and support each other. Go to conferences. Meet the retailers. Meet the readers. Make sure you have a website, a Twitter account and a Facebook fan page. You don’t have to go crazy, but you need a presence on the web!
  1. SPEND MORE TIME WRITING THAN PROMOTING
It’s easy to get sucked into marketing and promotion after you publish your book, but the most important thing you can do is to start writing your next book. A few authors will find stardom with one book, but the vast majority of authors will need to build their readership over a few books. Break down your available work time and put 75% into writing and 25% into promotion.
  1. SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS – DON’T BE AFRAID TO CHANGE!
Set goals for beyond one book and one year. Understand that your book will sell forever. You don’t have to make all your money in a month. If something isn’t working, change it. Try a new cover, change prices. Explore the top and the bottom of your price point. Run sales. Do giveaways. Most importantly – enjoy the process! It’s an amazing and exciting time to be a writer and a publisher! You can write what you love and publish it, too! 

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Barbara Freethy is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, who has sold over 2 million ebooks since January 2011. Her 30 novels range from contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Eight other titles also appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List in 2011. Known for her emotional and compelling stories of love, family, mystery and romance, Barbara enjoys writing about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary adventures. Barbara has lived all over the state of California and currently resides in Northern California where she draws much of her inspiration from the beautiful bay area.  
This Post Has 14 Comments
  1. This is awesome advice! I’m holding off until I have 2 books ready to go until I get the first one up. I’d like to be drafting #3 even as I get that first one up and active! 🙂 Thanks!!

  2. Great advice Barbara. Do you recommend waiting to publish until you have at least two books? Or just be ready with the second book within a certain time period?

  3. Wow, congratulations on your huge successes with your books – that is awesome! And thank you so much for sharing this invaluable information and great tips with us writers – I’m definitely taking notes here!

  4. I may have to send this to the hubby 🙂 He’s seen the end result finally, knows how much work I’m putting in and is more frustrated that I am that the sales aren’t rolling in. I knew they wouldn’t and am happy with how things are going so far. Not to mention, it’s only the first book. Good things loom on the horizon!!!

    Thanks Barbara
    **printing for work station**

    Melanie Macek

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