Impulse Control in Self-Publishing

There’s a huge problem with self-publishing: it’s too easy. I’m not saying it’s easy to write a book. I know the monumental effort it takes to write a book. And I’m not saying it’s easy to sell a book. It’s most certainly not easy to sell a book! But there is a key part of self-publishing that is so unbelievably easy it shouldn’t be considered safe, and that is, clicking the “Publish” button.
You finished your first book. Awesome! I’m so proud of you! I know how excited you are, and I know how painful your need is to get that story out into the world. But before you start a KDP account, before you ask your sister-in-law to draw up a book cover for you, before you hit the discussion boards to find out whether you should choose 35% royalties or 70% royalties, please hear me out!

Do not click that button. You still have lots of work to do.
Ignore your book. For months, like, at least three of them. Six would be better. Don’t start revising right after you’ve finished the first draft. The story is still fresh in your mind. It all still makes sense to you. You need time away from it to forget how perfect it is. Come back to it later, with a clear mind, so you can find the glaring plot holes and unintentional repetition. 

After you’ve sat on it for months, after you’ve combed through it looking for trouble, send it to an editor. It’s no mark against your talent to work with an editor. Producing a quality book takes more than one person. When you get it back from the editor, read all the comments and then find the will to keep living. Then ignore your book. For months, like, 3-6 of them.

For those of you doing the math, we’re now at least a year after you first finished writing the book. It takes a lot of strength to resist the “Publish” button for that long. You can do it. Write another book while you’re waiting.

Speaking of which, if you’re going to reach any self-publishing success, you’ll want to write more than one book. If you only have one book in you, that’s fine. Do everything you can with it. Some people will read it. Some people will love it. You might find another book in you later. But self-published authors rely heavily on social media, and I’ll tell you something about social media users. They get tired of hearing the same thing over and over. If you can write more books, you’ll have new stories to share. Maybe that sounds obvious, but it does make a difference.

Okay, so you’ve written, edited and revised your book.

Do not look at that “Publish” button. Have your book proofread. There are typos in there. I promise. Typos find a way.

Now, on to the book cover. Even if you are a professional designer, don’t design the cover yourself, for the same reason you wouldn’t edit it yourself. Your own opinions and understanding of the story will get in the way. Let’s just get this out there—we all judge books by their covers. The cover is a huge factor in drawing readers to your work. It needs to attract people who have no idea what the story is about. It needs to be from a fresh point of view.

If you’ve done some research, you’ve heard some of this advice before, and you might be tired of adding up the costs of all these services, looking for ways around them, or ways to do them for free. You know what? Do whatever you can. It does add up. It does get expensive. Save up for some of it, find a willing relative who has some relevant skill. You’re an indie author. You don’t have a big budget. We get that. Just do each step of the process the best you can with what you have, and try to improve on it every time.

So, you’ve taken the time. You’ve done the work. You’re ready to publish. Go ahead. Click the button.

There aren’t any fireworks or balloons or anything. It’s terrible. You won’t be flooded with sales. You won’t be inundated with reviews. You have to ask reviewers to read your book. You probably will have to pay some reviewers to read your book. Marketing a self-published book is a learning process. And actually, some things that work the best, won’t work when you’re first starting out. In the beginning, no one knows who you are. You have no credibility. Top reviewers won’t have time to read your work. They’re busy. Their TBR lists are insane just trying to get through books from authors they’ve heard of.

Find a community you can be part of. Find authors within your genre and get to know them. Facebook groups, Goodreads groups, Twitter, Reddit—indie authors who thrive help other indie authors. Search for book review blogs that specialize in your genre, and send out review requests. Every once in a while, someone will reply. As you gradually build up more reviews, you’ll be more likely to receive more replies.

Now, I’m going to reveal to you one of the greatest truths of the book industry. Some people will not like your book. Some people will give you a 1-star rating. I'll show you what it looks like. If you have a weak stomach, you might want to look away:

It’s terrible. It’s devastating. Especially after everything you’ve put into this story. You know what? It’s okay. Don’t respond to the review. Don’t take it personally. Readers don’t know you. They aren’t actually interested in all the time you put into this book. They just want a story they like. And different people like different types of stories, different styles, different endings, different points of view. You can not please everyone. There will always be readers who don’t like your work. Don’t get caught up on it. You aren’t writing for them. You’re writing for the ones who do enjoy your books. And if you’ve gone through the entire process in a professional way, and made this book the best you can, you’ll find some people who enjoy it. You’ll find some people who can’t put it down.

If you’re lucky, they’ll tell someone about it. They’ll convince a friend to buy it. And that’s how you sell one book.

It is a lot of work. It takes a lot of time. You can do it, or you can walk away. Just don’t click that button expecting it to be easy.

No comments:

Post a Comment