Self-publishing successfully, seven further thoughts

Publishers are only evil gatekeepers that stop people from recognising your genius? Think again! Publishers have huge marketing networks and have accumulated much experience about what works in terms of selling books. Quit blaming them for all your ills and watch what they do and how they do it, and how long it takes them to do it.

One of my most popular writing posts is Ten Home Truths About Starting out in Self-Publishing which I wrote a few months ago. In it, I outlined in a nutshell my feelings about the average self-publishing no-name author. It’s awesome to see all those points agreed with and elaborated on by Mark Croker from Smashwords in his free guide The secrets to Ebook Publishing Success


But, OK, you’ve self-published. What next? Here are a few more observations.

1. Experiment with your books’ listings
Use some of your earnings to design a more striking cover. Try a different sales blurb. Ask random people for their opinion. Do they find the cover attractive? What genre do they associate with the image?

Make sure you fill out all fields relevant to your book in Amazon’s Author Central page. Change the categories your book is listed in from generic to more specific. Prepare some books for a print version.

2. Giving away books helps sales
This one sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. Don’t be stingy or demanding about copies you give away for the purpose of getting the book reviewed. Many people won’t get around to reading or reviewing. Get over it. Give away some more books. Saddest thing I ever heard a self-published author say: “Let’s face it, your friends and family will be the only ones to buy your book.” No. Your friends and family should get the book for free. At this point in the game, the word is generosity. Getting your stuff read. Give lots of freebies. This month, I’ve given away over six thousand copies of various pieces of fiction.

3. Don’t sweat the numbers
Especially if those numbers are Amazon sales rankings. Who cares? Who of you intended audience browse by popularity anyway? Most will browse by genre and author name.

4. Don’t talk back to reviewers
Even if they are clearly wrong or show no sign of even having read your book. It just make you look like an arse. Online bookselling sites are the domain of readers, not writers. Don’t be creepy and look over the reviewers’ shoulders. Browsing people can see that some reviews make no sense. Trust their intelligence. I don’t remember who said If you fight with a troll, you both get dirty, only the troll likes it

5. Work to make your name memorable in a good way
Love your work, be proud of it, and develop it as best as you can. Be interesting. Don’t spam people with Buy-my-book messages. Your Twitter and Facebook followers know who you are. There’s no point in spamming them.

6. Write more fiction
So that the people who have liked your freebie can buy it.

7. Start over with point 1
Selling fiction takes a long time, but put yourself in the best position for when an opportunity comes along.

Selling fiction–anywhere, self-published or traditional–is like bashing your head against a wall. You will see cracks every now and then, but few of the bricks ever fall out. “Will this book sell?” is the eternal question, even if you have had fiction successfully published with large publishers.


4 comments on “Self-publishing successfully, seven further thoughts

  1. Pingback: Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies Issue #20 — The Book Designer

  2. Pingback: Friday Features #7 | Yesenia Vargas

  3. Pingback: wprdr: Self-publishing successfully, seven further thoughts | Wordpreneur

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