Welcome to part two of this two-part series. (read Part 1 here) This is where I share with you the don’t’s and what aspects you need to keep in mind with how to self publish a book and avoiding the traps.
1. Don’t write what you are not passionate about
This means don’t chase dollars and write about what’s currently ‘hot’, because when it comes to marketing you won’t have the staying power and motivation to stay with it for the long haul. No reader wants to buy from someone who’d rather be promoting something else. Others have tried and failed. If you’re a historical fiction author, don’t write about vampires just because it’s hot right now. It won’t always be the case and by the time your book comes out the wave might have passed and you’re stuck with a book you don’t like, would rather not promote, to an audience that’s no longer hungry. Write what you’re passionate about, you’ll enjoy the process more and as long as you’ve researched your market and there’s an audience in demand you’ll be in better shape for success.
2. Don’t skimp on creating a quality product
What I mean is if you want potential readers and buyers to take you and your book seriously then show your confidence with a quality product. A book that looks like the author has put it together with matchsticks and paddlepops won’t get reviews and coverage in newspapers, it won’t be looked at by book bloggers and your potential buyers will see a dodgey DIY job from a mile away. At least invest in your book cover design and editing, if nothing else. Show that you care about your book and the perception you’re emitting and your readers will too.
3. Don’t publish with vanity presses or so-called ‘self publishers’
Steer clear of these, they don’t offer you anything you can’t do yourself with the ‘Real Self Publishing‘ path. These outfits refer to themselves as ‘self publishers’ because they play on the idea that anything outside the scope of a traditional publishing deal of the big 6 (now 7 with Amazon publishing) is in fact self publishing. This is far from the truth! Outfits such as Balboa Press, Outskirts Press, BookPal and others, prey on unknowing authors with hopes and dreams of seeing their book in print. They will charge you a substantial sum of money up front to publish your book and take a piece of your hard earned pie. Often the distribution of these outfits are pitiful restricted only to their own online stores that no one knows about! For more detail read Real Self Publishing: Maintain Control, Profit, Reach Readers and Avoid the Traps.
4. Don’t neglect researching and understanding your target audience
Savy non-fiction authors understand this before they even put down their first word on paper. Whether you are a nonfiction or fiction author, it’s crucial to understand who your target audience is, who do you see reading your book? If you don’t get a handle on this then all your time, energy and marketing efforts will be falling short and so will sales. They’ll be specific ways to reach your audience and answering questions like, which places do they hang out? what media channels are they exposed to? what social media tools are the majority of them using? will help you place your book in front of those most likely to buy.
5. Don’t think your book and marketing will take care of itself
Marketing is arguably the most important part of launching any new product. Regardless of whether you are traditionally published or self published, YOU are responsible for the on going promotions of your book. Oh and please don’t simply spam out messages across the web like “buy my book”, because it doesn’t work and frankly it just annoys people. Make sure part of your marketing includes giving value to people and this is how you will make them stop, listen and hopefully care about what you have to say. Only THEN can you mention how your book is the best thing since Starbucks.
6. Don’t wait until after your book is published to start marketing
It blows me away how common this is, because it’s an after thought for writers. Yes, authors for the most part are not born marketers, but today there’s information out there (like this website) that will help you create your new marketing cap you are going to have to wear whether you like it or not. The best way to avoid this, is to start early with asking professionals questions and those who have gone before you. It’s never too early to start building awareness such as creating a blog, begin using Twitter and get to networking events. Inform yourself, get curious and start your plan of attack early during the writing process and avoid being overwhelmed when your book arrives back from the printers.
7. Don’t be a one-book only author
Books sell other books. This is why you see prominent authors have multiple books released within only a few months of each other. It’s because even the traditional publishers know that the backlist is the key to book sales. Get your first book out there, get the marketing machine up and running and then a couple of months down the track start your follow up book. For nonfiction authors consider any topics you can break down further into individual books. For fiction authors, create a series that has one or two main characters whose journey expands across a few books. Doing so allows you the opportunity to brand your books aside from building your author brand as a whole.
As an author you have to step up, shift your mindset, conquer your psychological roadblocks and allow yourself to get people’s attention and start selling books!
Winning the game is about the hustle you bring to it!