Want to be a successful self-published author?
The first thing you need to do is define “success”.
I’m a “success” because for me success meant ‘doing something that I never really thought I would do’, which was write a book. Then I did it about 10 times over. (Check me out here)
Now I will keep it real with you, it’s time for me to alter my definition of “success”. My success was not based on sales (I have been selling moderately well) or how much money I made (I’m definitely not rolling in the dough), BUT now that the novelty of self-publishing has worn off, it’s time I decide to make sales a priority.
But in YOUR case, you may decide that success is finally getting that book done after 20 years of procrastinating, or writing that book that will help bring attention to your business, or writing that tell all that exposes those nasty sorority girls from your alma mater for the whores that they really are! Whatever. It’s YOUR definition of “success”, not anyone else’s.
Anywho, from me to you, here are 10 tips that you should pay close attention to if you want to be a successful self published author.:
1) In addition to following this site (shameless self plug), you should join self-published and/or Indie writer’s groups both on and offline. How? Go to your favorite search engine (notice how I didn’t automatically assume you ‘Google’ everything?), and type in “Independent Writers Group” or “Self Published Writers Group” and watch the world come alive! These are the ‘doers’ of the world, and you can get plenty of advice on anything and everything you ever wanted to know about self-publishing but were afraid to ask. And you don’t need to wait until you have a book out to join! Join now…watch, ask, and be informed.
2) I know this is subjective, but please write a good book! There is too much crap cluttering cyberspace as it is, so put your heart into your book. If you feel you have done your best, then that is all a man can ask.
3) You need to have a good title and a good cover. Remember that last comment about cybercrap? Well if you want to stand out amongst them, do yourself a favor and create an eye-appealing, professional-looking cover. Your cover should not only look good large, but it should catch the eye when it is set as a thumbnail, because if you sell online it’s likely that people will only see a thumbnail of your book.
4) Have your book proofread! You can have a great book, but if it is filled with typos and grammatical errors, guess what comments will be left on Amazon, B&N, iTunes, etc.? Do yourself a favor, even if you can’t afford to pay a lot for a professional, you should be able to 1) use spellcheck and 2) ask a friend, family member, or colleague to take a look. A new set of eyes will go a long way.
5) BEFORE you hit the “go” button to get 1,000,000 copies printed by your locan printer, be sure to get a proof of your book first! Getting a proof is different from having it proofread. Once your book is finished and at the printer of your choice, request or purchase a copy of it before it goes into full production. When your proof arrives give it a thorough looksy. This is your labor of love, if something doesn’t look right, change it. Better make those changes now than having a garage full of books with your name spelled wrong.
6) Make sure the Price is Right! No, I’m not talking about the television game show with Drew Carrey. It’s important to make sure that your book is priced appropriately. If you are using a Print on Demand service such as CreateSpace, they will kind of force your hand by telling you the minimum price you can sell your book for. This will be based on things like length of the book and if you are using black/white pictures vs. color pictures. Anything above that minimum should become profit for you. But don’t get crazy with the price. Will people really buy your $24.99 book?
If you are selling an eBook, keep in mind that the “sweet spot” for eBooks is usually around $2.99. You may consider starting at .99 cents, letting your book get a little momentum then gradually increasing it to $1.99, then $2.99. If you are selling on Amazon, familiarize yourself with their Royalty policy since they have 35% and 70% rates.
7) Unlike at a bookstore or in a library, online potential buyers can’t thumb through your book so they will rely on other people’s reviews. Solicit reviews on Amazon.com. How? Well, remember that writers group I suggested you join, tap into that group. Another possible way is to send free copies to anyone who may have an interest in your genre or topic (including family or friends) and ask (beg) that they write a review at Amazon. Getting reviews will help with your book ranking. If Amazon sees that people are reviewing your book, they will rank it higher.
8) And no matter what site you use to sell your book, make sure that your book description and your publisher’s comments are well thought out. Potential buyers will also look to these areas to decide whether they will buy your book or not. If the description doesn’t provide them with enough information on your book, they may likely pass on it. This is especially true when you don’t have many reviews. Or even worse, if your description is poorly (or even just “okay”)written and people purchase it, they will come back and leave a negative review because it “wasn’t what they thought it was”. (Ask me how I know).
9) Create a website for your book (or better yet, a website for yourself!), and link it to any of the places that you may sell your book. Now that you are a self-published author, you are a brand, and no brand is complete without its own website.
Last, but certainly not least…
10) Market, Market, MARKET! How can you sell your book if they don’t know it exists? There are 1001 ways to market, so find the best ways for your book. And don’t just think online, think offline marketing as well! I’m sure I will do more posts about marketing, branding, etc. etc, but really you should market your book.
I’m glad I only said 10 tips, ’cause I’m tired! If you have any tips, please feel free to share them in the comment section!