How Self-Publishing has Changed over the Years
If you are a self published author, I am sure you can recall a time not so long ago when finding ways to distribute and market your book was a Herculean challenge. You had to be creative, business savvy, and sometimes a little demanding in order to get the recognition and respect you deserved. Not to mention, you also had to be (and pardon the expression) a “little thick” skinned in order to deal with the rejection all self published authors face at some point in their burgeoning career.
As a self published author myself, I can vividly recall those days. I remember the great feeling of accomplishment I had when I completed my first manuscript. I was super elated when friends and family members commended me on my work. That feeling was only surpassed when I saw my work in print for the first time. It was official. I was an author. I was wide eyed and bushy tailed and ready to take my product to the world. Then it happened. Reality came knocking on my front door, and it came with a few thousand copies of my book- packed neatly in approximately 32 boxes.
What was I to do? I had a ship load of books and about 30 orders. Needless to say, I found places to put those boxes. At first they were well organized, accounted for, and in neat rows throughout my mom’s house. But…..at some point later a few of those boxes became clothing racks and places to hold random household items. Admittedly, I used one as a tv stand and I probably ate a few meals on top of one of them. Oh, and the books were still in them. As the years progressed, I was successful at selling quite a few books. I attended countless conferences, hosted book signings at local churches, visited schools and conducted book talks. I even managed to have a few local bookstores carry my book and was interviewed by a local tv station. Yet with all that labor, I didn’t even scratch the surface of the publishing industry. I was another small fish in a huge pond being overshadowed by those fortunate enough to have the commercial backing of big publishers/distributors.
Fast forward to 2013. New authors who choose to self publish their work are fortunate to have less complicated options. Major distributors like Amazon and Barnes and Noble are making it easier to compete with major publishing companies. Now I am not suggesting that the playing field is completely leveled, but you can definitely grow a few more scales. The advantages for self publishing are far more attractive now than ever before. Below is an abbreviated list of a few advantages:
• Quick turnaround time for having your book in print vs. traditional publishing that can take years.
• Higher royalties and the ability to receive payment directly from companies like Amazon on a more frequent basis (based on sales).
• The ability to have your book printed on demand vs. storing large quantities of your book at home.
• The ability to have your book offered as an ebook.
• The ability to market your book online through personal websites or social media.
Now all of the above information is great and useful if you actually take advantage of it and publish your work. Unlike my early days, you probably won’t have to worry about your books becoming permanent furniture pieces. However, a self published book without sales aren’t going to advance your reputation as an author. You will still have to be creative in order to market your work. Below are a few tips for your next steps:
1. Find a networking organization that allows you share resources, learn from other “indie authors”, and promote your work.
One of the biggest lessons that I learned as an indie author is that there is strength in numbers. Sometimes relying on your own wisdom, social networks, and contacts aren’t enough to reach masses. You may have to use the resources of others. Likewise, someone else may need to use information or contacts that you possess. Don’t be afraid to ask and share resources. There are quite a few organizations out there whose missions is to help create a platform for resource sharing. Among them are: Goodreads, SpaNnet, The Society of Authors, and (of course) Society of Independent Authors and Illustrators.
On Widbook you can get noticed around the world and gain followers.
2. Mimic the big fish!
In order to truly be successful at marketing your book, you have to mimic the key players in the publishing industry. In this scenario that would be big publishing houses. Consider the various ways they market their authors and try to employ some of their strategies. If you are limited by budget, go for quality versus quantity. In other words, brand your work the same way they would brand their authors. Make your work look attractive, invest in quality and/or professional cover art, send out press releases, hire editors, and make sure that every piece of marketing material you distribute looks top notch!
3. Develop your online presence.
Your website (alone) may not be enough to drive the sales of your recently published books. You may need to develop your online presence by having multiple streams of visibility. It’s great if you have a blog for your book, a Facebook page, Twitter account, etc but you will also need high visibility on other sites as well. You may need to place a few ads on Google, ask friends to sponsor your book’s fan page, or place ads on websites geared towards readers.
4. Seize the day!
If you ever wanted to make a name for yourself as an author, now is the time. So many shifts are occurring in the way we communicate information that will make it easier for savvy indie authors to gain exposure!
By Andrea Jamison. Andrea Jamison is the founder of the Society of Independent Authors and Illustrators.
This post was originally featured on BiblioCrunch, a marketplace for authors to find, quality vetted professionals to help publish their books.