Last updated on February 21, 2016
Okay, I have been a slacker myself. I have excuses: the last year has been hard. Divorce, moving three times, all of that jazz you may have read about my life on this blog and elsewhere. Not to mention that now I have been planning a wedding. My soon to be wife has a rare disease that has resulted in hospitalizations and unexpected expenses, things that have made our financial situation challenging at best. You can read more about that here (and there are even ways to help, should you so desire).
That’s just what they are, though. Excuses. The deal with writing is simply this: there are three steps, production, distribution, and marketing. Let any one of those three go, and your work will not sell as well. I know I have shared these before.
Wait a minute before we get too far though: there is another aspect to this. If writing is your only source of income, you may face some significant challenges, especially at first. So I do recommend you look at the Three Legged Stool method for your “career.” Have more than one source of income.
What is production of a book? Writing and revising are what you do. Editing, sourcing a book cover, and formatting are all tasks you should hire out. You need an editor, because you become word blind to the faults in your own work, although there are tools you can use to self-edit, and save yourself some money on editing.
As to book covers and formatting: you can learn to format your own work if you are going to self-publish, but unless you have a background in graphic design, or you have certain talents, creating your own covers is challenging at best.
The other aspect is this: if you do everything yourself, your project becomes very narcissistic and that shows. Collaboration makes every project better. Let artists do their art, editors do their work, and your work will be better for it. Enough of that soapbox. That is something I can cover in a blog post later.
So what about Kindle Select, and making your work exclusive to Amazon? Does it work? Good question, and there are as many opinions as there are writers. While I believe Kindle Select may work for some short term gain, I believe in the long run having your work as widely available as possible is the best move for authors.
This means you either need to become adept at uploading your work to various different sites, you need to hire an aggregator who is, or use a service like Smashowrds, or you need to find a publisher.
As to whether to self-publish or hire a publisher, that will be covered later as well: for now just know that self-publishing is a lot of work, but gives you a lot of control, but is a pay now method of publishing. You need money to invest. Using a publisher (I recommend a small press, rather than the traditional Big 5) is a pay later method. Initially you are investing someone else’s money in your work, and pay it back later in the form of royalties.
No matter what way you go, you must treat this section, and all sections of your writing career, as a business. You need to look at what you, or someone else invested, and then look at how many books you need to sell to recover that cost. Make no mistake, just because a publisher invests in you once does not mean they will do so again if your sales do not ever cover their costs. In other words if your book does not pay out for them, you can hardly expect them to throw more money at your next book.
This is a beautiful transition to marketing. You must market yourself and your work all the time. But as an author, if you just blast “buy my book” promos all the time, you will join a crowd of voices no one is listening too. You must develop relationships over trying to develop sales. Relationships with other authors are great, but relationships with readers is what sells books.
It is easy to do this with social media, it is also equally easy to screw it up. There are some great tips at Bad Red Head Media, Novel Publicity, and through many groups online, from K-boards to LinkedIn and Facebook. If you did not do the free Bad Red Head Media 30 day author challenge, either because you did not hear about it or didn’t think it would be worth your effort, you missed out.
As with other aspects of your writing, you need to pay for promotions. Pay people who know how to market to help you market your work, even if just to learn from them how to better do it yourself. Pay for ads, whether that is with the golden BookBub, E-Reader News Today, Kindle Daily Deals, or whatever method you desire to use.
And for God’s sake, blog, and guest blog. Don’t miss a great opportunity to communicate with your readers, other authors, and your community in general. You are the world’s foremost expert on your book, your writing methods, and what has and has not worked for you. Share them, and we all win.
Each of these topics could go on for hours, and at some point I just might. But for now take this away. Your writing is a business. You need to write, revise, publish, market, and repeat. The more material you have out there, the more you market and people know your name and brand, and the more often you do all of it, the more success you will have as an author.