We writers want guarantees before we start writing. We especially want guarantees in self-publishing. Unfortunately, this mindset can cripple your writing career. Here’s why: when it comes to self-publishing, no guarantees are possible.
What works today, may not work tomorrow. You may write a book that everyone totally ignores. Or Amazon may change the way it works, tanking your books.
Self-publishing is as hard as you make it. Why not make it SIMPLE?
“No guarantees” frustrates writers. I understand, but look at it this way: your next book may not be a bestseller, but it will sell. The wackiest books sell, and so will yours. Whether it sells BIG is mostly out of your control. Write the best ebook you can, and promote it. Beyond that, it’s up to Amazon, or fate, or luck. 🙂
Here’s all you need to do:
- Write the best book you can — get it edited, and get the best cover you can afford;
- Promote the book;
- Write another book…
When you strip things down to their basics, self-publishing is simple. So stop trying to make it hard. You can only control what you do, so let’s look at some self-publishing tips.
1. Write SHORT ebooks, both fiction and nonfiction
At least once a week, someone asks me about fiction and nonfiction, and which genre makes the most money.
Why not write both?
Nonfiction is easy to write, because writers are always learning. In Fast Nonfiction Book Ideas: 5 Easy Tips I wrote:
Learn it, write it: beginner’s mind is priceless – and you can’t get it back
What are you learning? Your state of mind when you’re learning something is valuable, because you can’t unlearn what you know. In the 1990s, I tried to convince my editor at a major publishing house to give me a contract for an advanced book on a subject. She said: “No, the market’s too small. Give me something for beginners.”
I’ve always kept that in mind, and so should you. In every topic, there are always more beginners than experts. If you want to write for experts, go ahead, but if you’re new to a topic, you’re perfectly placed to write for other beginners – and it’s a bigger market.
Why not write a SHORT series of beginners’ books in a nonfiction subject you know well? And a few short stories too? The holidays will soon be upon us, and you can write both fiction and nonfiction holiday-themed ebooks.
2. Write short ebooks and get the best covers you can afford (and stop charging 99 cents)
One very successful author told me that the shorter the book, the more expensive the cover he sources. “I charge $3.99 and if an ebook’s short, a great cover suggests that the book’s worth it.”
You’ll need to sell fewer books to make a good income if you increase the price of your ebooks, so always know WHY you’re charging 99 cents. “Everyone else is charging 99 cents” isn’t a good reason. 🙂
3. Create a publishing schedule, and stick to it
We discussed your writing process in this article:
All the professional writers I know focus on their writing. Selling is secondary; it has to be, because if you’re not writing, you have nothing to sell.
When Dean Koontz finishes a novel, he brainstorms titles for the next one. As soon as he has a title, he starts writing. Jack London wrote a thousand words a day, every day. Somerset Maugham wrote every morning, as soon as he finished his breakfast.
If you want to sell, you must write.
Too many authors publish ONE book — ONE — and go into meltdown when the ebook doesn’t sell. Who knows why it doesn’t sell? It may sell six months or a year from now, but basically, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have a publishing schedule. You know what you’re writing, and you write it.
There are no guarantees in publishing. There never have been. The only guarantee is the commitment you make to yourself and your publishing business — that you’ll keep writing.
4. Make it work: you can do it
I belong to several Facebook groups, and there’s a constant refrain from new members: “This doesn’t work for me…” “This” being an accepted practice in an area, which works for hundreds, if not thousands of others.
With a little gentle probing, you soon discover that the person has given something a try, and didn’t instantly get the results he wanted. So he gave up. He wants another option.
Have you heard the saying that nothing works unless you do?
Half-hearted attempts won’t cut it.
Make a commitment to yourself that you will make self-publishing work for you.
If thousands of other authors are doing it, you can too. Give it everything you’ve got — and keep giving, until it works for you. There’s very little more to it than that.
When you strike a challenge, ask others for some ideas on how to solve it. There are dozens of self-publishing forums on Facebook, on the Web, on Yahoo Groups. Ask specific questions, and other authors will give you great ideas.
Self-publishing is simple if you focus on what you can control
The holiday season is on the horizon. Decorations are appearing in stores. As we’ve said, the holiday season is a hot-selling period for traders and for self-publishers:
Consider all the avid readers who are getting new devices among their holiday gifts. Some of those readers will be new to ebooks. Think about how you can serve them. Could you write a couple of novellas or three short stories, and publish them in the next three months?
Write on. 🙂
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