Part 1 of the #SelfPublishing series
It’s the #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and you might have taken up the challenge of penning down 50,000 words this month. Great. That means you’re interested in writing a book and probably even making it available to others. I’ve decided to share some points to help you with writing and self publishing your works.
Let’s start today’s post, the 1st one in this series, by busting the myths of self publishing. There are many assumptions (read: beliefs) about self publishing. Most of them would hurt you as a writer if you believe them. We will talk about 3 such myths and why you should focus on working on them — quality, marketing and strategy.
Quality of your self-published book
Many have this opinion that the quality of a self-published book is far below that of a book published by a traditional publishing house. This is not completely true. But, alas, this is also not completely false.
It’s true that many writers out there want to push out a book quickly and compromise on the quality of their book. A sloppily mashed-together front cover, an unappealing formatting and, the most irritating of all, the writing that’s neither proofread nor edited makes a book far less qualitative than its peers. As the self-publishing world is full of such books, many readers think that all the self-published books are similar.
This is a great opportunity for the indie authors to want to stand out from the competition.
Note here: your competition is not the other self-published books. Your competition is the traditionally published books written by well known authors. You‘ve to match their quality levels. You’ve to beat them on their ground.
Publishing is not only about the story; it’s also about how you present your story.
Of course the resources pumped into a traditionally published book’s designing, publishing and marketing are huge. But that doesn't mean you cannot afford high quality product with limited resources. Create a high quality product whose front cover tempts the viewer’s eyes to keep staring at it. Create a book with beautiful formatting which goes easy on the reader’s eyes. Create a story which is presented in a magnificent way with no spelling mistakes, no grammar errors or no carelessly framed sentences. When your reader finishes your book, he/she should be craving for the next one.
Marketing your self-published book
Marketing is not for me. Those big publishing houses, those giants, do marketing. I have neither the money nor the skills to compete with them.
Believe me, this is one of the top concerns I hear from self-publishing enthusiasts. Marketing sounds like some rare fruit hidden in the Amazon forest. Come on guys, it’s easier than that.
Of course those giant publishers pump a lot of money into marketing and advertising, buy ad spaces and create beautiful graphics or videos. But it doesn’t mean you can’t do all that without emptying your pockets (and your bank accounts and your house and…).
All you need is a well-planned marketing strategy. Start talking about your book even before you finish and publish it. You do have a place to start from; your own network. Your friends, family and personal network. Start with your friends and family and encourage them to share a word with their networks. Keep expanding from there.
It’s obviously not easy. But it’s not unbelievably hard either. Use social media to engage with the people who have an interest in the genre you’re writing in. Join groups on Facebook or communities on Google+. There are a lot of them for almost every genre out there. There are groups for writers to share tips and insights. There are groups for readers to share great books. There are communities for self-publishers to support each other. Join them.
But don’t blast them with ads or link dropping. Be genuinely interested in them and share your knowledge with them (if you’re not genuinely interested in being helpful to the communities, I don’t see why they should be genuinely interested in you or your book).
Create some anxiety and find opportunities to share the updates. Did you reach the final chapter? Did you finish the book and now working on the final touches? Did you find an awesome proofreader to go through your book? Shoot a post sharing your enthusiasm. Ask for feedback. Be genuinely interested in engaging with the groups.
But don’t get overwhelmed by being active on all the social media platforms. Try all of them and find 1 or 2 that better fits your personality and offers you a large reader base.
What you need to understand now is that you can embrace marketing even with limited or no resources. Your goal should not be to sell a million copies. Instead, it should be to build a loyal fan-base who would read your novel and share a word with their networks.
The most important question I always ask someone writing a book is this:
What’s your intention behind writing/publishing this book?
I usually get one of these 3 common answers.
Starting from pricing your book to which platform you want to publish on, everything should be carefully planned out. It should be priced in such a way that it’s not too low or too high. Too low price gives an impression that it has been written by an amateur writer and can be low on quality too. Too high price may scare your readers away. Especially when you’re competing with the writers who have already published tens of books and have millions of readers, you cannot compete on the celebrity front. Instead you need to compete on the price, attractive blurb/summary/book description and cover (often many writers underestimate the power of the cover; that’s the first thing your potential reader will see).
There’s more your strategy should cover the tricks of the platforms you want to publish on, the different things that go into the book or on to the webpages on which your book is featured/sold and the ways to communicate with your readers. Self-publishing is not an impossible feat. With a little planning and a few resources, you can publish a successful book.
5 Steps To Designing Your Book Cover (Part 2 of the #SelfPublishing series)
This is an excerpt from the chapter The Myths of Self-Publishing from my upcoming book Your Guide To Self-Publishing. In the original chapter, I discuss about how to set your goals based on your intentions, how to integrate your strategy with your goals to achieve them and how to develop each part of your strategy. I also talk about other elements of self-publishing where quality matters a lot (even more than your novel’s story), how to target your readers and how to pick the right platforms for ebook and print versions. We’ll also see how your commitment will affect the outcome of your self-publishing journey and how your patience will be tested. We finally wrap up the chapter by making some key points you need to focus on while developing a self-publishing strategy.