Self-publishing has been changing the literary landscape, making publishing more accessible to a wider audience of both writers and readers. Predictably, as the barriers to publishing are lowered, the market has become more saturated with books than ever before, which presents a unique challenge to authors.
But this is not necessarily bad news. In 2017, 40% of eBook revenue went to Indie authors, and in 2016, 27% of Amazon’s best-selling eBooks were self-published.
While this is an undeniably difficult market for new authors to break into, it’s not impossible. Now, more than ever before, self-publishing is being taken seriously and producing amazing content, with self-published titles getting picked up by traditional publishing houses and self-published authors performing well, with some successful self-published authors earning millions.
Consider Your Content
Many people write because they are passionate about writing and they have a story they want to share with the world. However, it is also important for authors to keep in mind that the best-selling books are those that are targeted to a specific audience. Books that are overly broad are not likely to be best-sellers.
Identify your niche(s) early on. This will not only guide the writing process but also set you up for success after publishing your book. Think about why the world needs your book and why you are uniquely qualified to write it. Having a clear answer to these questions will lay the groundwork as you begin to market your book.
Don’t Cut Corners
Unfortunately, some self-published authors set themselves up for failure by trying to cut costs in the wrong places. I’ve noticed one of the biggest mistakes an upcoming author can make is publishing their story without investing in a professional book editor. They don’t realize the unforeseeable amount of book returns they will receive if their book has grammatical errors. Even the best marketing campaign will not make up for a sloppily-done book or a poor cover design.
Set Realistic Goals
People self-publish for different reasons and an essential part of the process is identifying your goals. Why are you publishing your book and what do you hope to take away from the experience?
If selling a lot of books is on your list, set a realistic goal that is achievable and that you can work towards. For example, if you are an unknown author and you have not worked to develop an author platform, chances are that you are setting yourself up for failure if your initial goal is to sell 1,000 books in the first month. Try setting a goal to sell one hundred books and work on building your author platform in order to reach this goal.
Design a business plan detailing every step of how you will achieve your goals. Remember that this takes time; make a commitment to work consistently on marketing and publicizing your book each day.
Another way to promote yourself and your book is to collaborate with organizations, non-profits, schools, libraries and participate in local events in your community. Making these types of relationships is a very effective strategy for building awareness of you and the people you are partnering with.
Best-selling authors are tapping into their networks: talking to local bookstores, collaborating with non-profit organizations or schools, and making every effort to stay in front of their target audience on a regular basis.
Don’t Stop Writing
Just because the book is written doesn’t mean it’s time to put down the proverbial pen. One of the best things you can do is continue writing: whether it’s writing timely entries on your own author blog, writing guest posts for other websites that are relevant to your topic, or writing a monthly column for a newspaper or magazine.
This will not only establish you as a professional in your field, but it can generate many opportunities to get the word out about you and your book. Continuing to add to your portfolio will make you an appealing candidate for speaking engagements, and it will help you to grow your author platform.
Enjoy the Process
Meeting the goals you set for book sales is a challenging but rewarding journey. It may push you to do things you had never planned to do: speaking in front of an audience, traveling on a book tour, doing interviews with the media, and designing a strategy to promote yourself and your book.
Remember that although the words are set in ink on the page, a book is not something static. Rather, it has the power to shape your life as the author and touch the lives of those who read your work, bringing your words to life. Moreover, your message is timeless, and even if you haven’t worked on your marketing efforts in a few months, you can always pick it back up and start again.