Posted On June 25, 2012 by Print This Post

The Business of Self Publishing by HP Mallory

When I started thinking I should learn more about self publishing, I ran across a book by HP Mallory. In it, I learned about cover design, self-promotion and what does – and doesn’t! – work in the world of self pub.

HP Mallory The Business of Self PublishingIf you’ve got a story that wants to be told, now is the best time to tell it! Ever since the advent of self publishing on platforms like Amazon KDP and Barnes and Noble Pubit!, the publishing industry really has been turned on its head.

I’m here today to discuss some of the tidbits that helped me achieve the level of success I have. It will be two years on July seventh since I first uploaded my two paranormal romance/ urban fantasy books (Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble and To Kill A Warlock) to Kindle and Nook and in that time, I’ve sold 300,000 ebooks, hit both the Kindle and B&N bestseller lists as well as the USA Today Bestseller list most recently. I’ve just signed my second deal with Random House, Bantam Imprint, and I’m convinced it never would have happened if I hadn’t self published.

Because the subject of self publishing is enormous, I’m just going to cover a few beefy points here. I currently have an ebook available, Quit Your Day Job, which details exactly what I did to experience the success I have thus far so if you’re looking for in depth advice, reading that is your best bet. I’ll pull a few points from the book and discuss them here:

1. The Cover:

The most important part of your book is going to be the book itself—is your story sound or does it have major holes? Have you had critique partners and/or beta readers review it? How is your editing? Did you hire a professional editor to fix any grammar and/or spelling mistakes? If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, stop reading this, and go find an editor, a critique partner and some beta readers. My editor, Teri, is fantastic and very reasonable; check her out at: www.editingfairy.com.

All the tips and tricks I describe will only help you if your book is ready to be released. If it isn’t ready, it won’t be pretty (read: bad reviews). Trust me; I learned this the hard way.

So let’s say your book is sparklingly free of mistakes and you are truly ready to publish it. Aside from the book itself, the most important component of your book is the cover. Why? Because it’s the first touch point you and your potential reader share.

The old adage that warns you not to “judge a book by its cover?” Yeah, well, that isn’t true. Customers absolutely judge books by their covers—my readers tell me all the time that they first took a chance on my books because they were attracted by the covers. So what does this mean for you? It means you need a professional looking cover. Despite the fact that you’re a self-published author, your cover should scream the opposite.

If it looks like Cousin Cindy Lou did it in Microsoft Paint, no one is going to buy it.

2. Email Distribution List

One of my most successful tidbits that I can offer you is what I call my email distribution list. What this is, essentially, is a list of readers who have asked me to let them know whenever I come out with a new book, contest or anything similar.

The email distribution list might sound simple but there is a lot that goes into it. For example, I push my email distribution list everywhere. If you look at a sample page for one of my books on Amazon, you’ll see my call out to the email list:

“If you enjoyed this book, consider signing up for my email distribution list to learn when new books are released! Just visit my website: www.hpmallory.com and click the “contact” tab.”

Now, what’s interesting to note here is that I’m doing a few different things:

  • I’m allowing people to opt themselves into my email list—I’m not spamming them. They are raising their hands and asking me to include them
  • I’ve told them what’s in it for them—that they’ll be the first to know whenever new books come out
  • I’ve drawn attention to the fact that I have a website. This is super important because this tells people they can find out more about me and my books. Once you start to get fans, they really do want to find out as much as they can about you. A website is a great place to offer more information but we’ll talk about that later.

I mention my email distribution list everywhere—on my pages on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and I also mention it at the end of my books. The final page of each of my e-books is an “about the author” page which includes links to all my social media outlets, the email distribution list being one of them.

3. Social Media, specifically, Facebook:

Okay, I can’t say enough about Facebook. Facebook for me is the single largest focus of most of my online marketing activity. I love it because it allows me to reach out to a huge amount of people and connect with them and to do so easily. And, really, social media is about making conversations and getting to know people–Facebook is an awesome way to do that.

A few things: If you visit my Facebook page, you’ll notice that I have a member page as well as a fan page. That means that people can “friend” me as well as “like” me. Now, there is much contention over whether or not this is a good practice and I’ve found that most people will say that if you are a product, author, actor, etc., you should have a fan page rather than a friend page. Well, I disagree and the reason I disagree is based on the fact that I don’t want my readers to think of themselves as my “fans.” I want them to think of themselves as my friends. There is a huge difference. And the point I’m really trying to make here is that you want to cultivate personal relationships with your readers. Well, obviously, you aren’t going to be able to actually cultivate a relationship with each and every one of your readers but, what you can do with Facebook, comes pretty close.  That’s why I really dislike the idea of the fan page when compared to the friend page.

Having said all that, though, I also maintain a Facebook fan page only because some people aren’t crazy about having their information (as in their profile) come up on a public figure’s profile page.  For them, I do the fan page, which allows them their privacy. Also, it’s just good to cover all your bases.

So, as to whether or not you want a friend page or a fan page, that is up to you. I will say, though, that I think there is a limit of 5,000 or 15,000 (I’ve heard both but have yet to reach either so don’t know at this point) friends you can have on your profile page so once you reach that limit, you’ll have to change your profile page into a fan page (which Facebook does allow for).

Ok, some of my rules with Facebook:

  • If someone friends you, thank them for friending you on their wall post. Usually I’ll write something like: “Thanks for the add, first name!” And if they actually send me a message with their friend request, I’ll address that as well and might write something like: “Thanks for the add, first name, and so excited you’re enjoying my books!”
    • It’s really important to thank everyone whenever they add you because they are doing you a favor by showing you how much they like your books!
    • Whenever anyone comments on your page, answer them! Do it with a sense of urgency. This is important because it goes back to my point about creating conversations which lead to relationships. If you don’t respond in a timely manner, that opportunity is pretty much lost.
    • Whenever someone sends you an email through Facebook, always answer it and employ the same sense of urgency. Don’t wait two weeks to write them back!
    • Try to post once a day. Sometimes I’ll post even more often than that—it just depends on what I’m doing or what I have to say. It’s not enough to have a Facebook presence. If you aren’t posting on your page, what’s the point? Remember, it’s about getting to know your readers and letting your readers get to know you!
    • Be friendly and uplifting! No one wants to hear about your bad day all the time. Make your posts lively and positive.
    • Don’t post about boring things. No one really cares about how many words you wrote today. What they do care about is the fact that you wrote a really steamy scene about a character but you won’t tell them which one. Or they might like the fact that you just introduced a new character—stuff like that. You definitely don’t want to update them on the small, uninteresting details.

Some fun ideas to keep up the engagement on Facebook:

Have I mentioned how much I love Facebook? If not, I’ll mention it again. I LOVE FACEBOOK! I love the fact that I can be extremely creative with Facebook and my readers love it too. Here are some fun things I do:

  • I upload pictures of people who I think could be my characters, and then my readers comment and/or vote on them
  • I create an event if I have a book signing.  That way people can sign up and let me know if they’ll be attending or not
  • I ask tons of questions to get people involved in conversations—things like: Are you Team Rand or Team Sinjin?
  • I post polls and surveys using the free service , Zoomerang (more on this later)
  • I host lots of contests (more about those later too)
  • One of the things I love about Facebook is the option to create groups. I’ve created two—one of my groups is “HP’s Online Book Club” and the other is “HP’s Online Writer’s Club”. As you can probably imagine, the book club is devoted to discussions of books in my genre. That way, my readers can talk to one another about other books they read and liked. So far, this club has been hugely successful.

My online writer’s club is a community for published or unpublished authors to get together and talk about anything that has to do with writing—getting critique partners, writer’s block, etc. The thing to note here is that with both clubs, my name is in the title, so it keeps me in the forefront of my readers’ mind.

  • I would definitely urge you to share the love and invite other authors to your Facebook page or groups and interview them. Allow your readers to ask them questions. I recently did this and it was a huge success. I had bestselling author, JR Rain, at my online book club and my readers had a great time asking him about his books and characters.
  • One of the most recent things I did on Facebook is creating Facebook pages for the characters in one of my series. At first, I was worried that my readers might think it was silly since they would be aware that they were interacting with a fictional character, but it’s actually been a huge hit and my readers love it whenever my characters post on my wall or their own. I would definitely say this was a winning idea!

These are just a few tips and tricks from my book, Quit Your Day Job, available at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble so be sure to check it out!

***

RU Writers – have you thought about self-publishing? Is it still a dream, or are you making it a reality?

Join us on Wednesday to find out about Terri Osburn’s wild ride as a Golden Heart® nominee!

***

Bio: H. P. Mallory is the author of the Jolie Wilkins series as well as the Dulcie O’Neil series. She began her writing career as a self-published author and after reaching a tremendous amount of success, decided to become a traditionally published author and hasn’t looked back since. H. P. Mallory lives in Southern California with her husband and son, where she is at work on her next book.
To find her on the web, please visit:
Website: www.hpmallory.com
Twitter Page: http://twitter.com/hpmallory
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/hpmallory

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19 Responses to “The Business of Self Publishing by HP Mallory”

  1. Hi H P,

    I’ve thought of self-publishing. Your list is an excellent primer.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | June 25, 2012, 6:25 am
    • Hi Mary Jo,
      So glad you found it useful!
      Thank you!

      Posted by HP Mallory | June 26, 2012, 11:31 am
    • Hi:
      I self-published two books and am considering self-publishing a third one. At this time, I want to thank you for your article and the valuable information you shared on ways to get your name and books out in the public’s eye.
      I am on Facebook but not utilizing it to benefit me as it can. Thank you. I will check out your website.

      Posted by Anonymous | July 25, 2012, 7:15 am
  2. As a reader only, I definitely agree about the social media part. I have “liked” authors on facebook but tend to follow them most on twitter. Responding to us readers makes a big impression. There have been times that I have tweeted or commented on an author’s facebook page about much I was enjoying their book and got nothing in return. I have to say that since I have a big TBR pile, that author that didn’t reply isn’t on there any longer. Not that I wouldn’t read any of their other books based on that, but they are not on the list as I would rather spend my time reading books of those authors that DID respond to me. I understand if people are not on twitter/facebook, but in this case the disappointing thing is I was following them on twitter and I saw that they were online intereacting with their other author friends all the time. It was just a little disappointing that they didn’t respond. Authors are like celebs to readers and it makes our day when they respond to us. Thanks for the blog post!

    Posted by Amy R | June 25, 2012, 6:49 am
    • …There have been times that I have tweeted or commented on an author’s facebook page about much I was enjoying their book and got nothing in return…

      Amy, I think it’s hard for some authors to find the time to respond to all the tweets and FB comments. But it’s important to remember that all followers are potential readers.

      Posted by Jennifer Tanner | June 25, 2012, 3:18 pm
    • Hi Amy!
      Thanks for the post and so glad to hear that you agree! I love interacting with my readers and learning more about them! Thanks for reading!
      HP

      Posted by HP Mallory | June 26, 2012, 11:30 am
  3. I agree that the cover is very important on self-published books. I don’t care how good the book is, a cheap looking cover is going to put me off.

    Posted by Becke Davis (Becke Martin) | June 25, 2012, 7:13 am
  4. At the moment, I’m keeping self-publishing as an alternative option to the traditional route. Once I get myself to actually finish writing the book, I’ll query agents and such until I run out of options.

    But for now, I’m also building the planks of the platform. Getting blog and Twitter followers, figuring out what’s the right time to set up an e-mail list…

    Posted by Chihuahua Zero | June 25, 2012, 9:26 am
  5. Creating a FB page for your characters is a fantastic idea. I have to agree with Becke, a bad cover is a definite turnoff.

    It’s nice to know that you find the time to respond to emails and tweets from your readers. It’s a sure way of building and maintaining a following.

    Thanks for joining us today.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | June 25, 2012, 11:12 am
  6. I confess to having cover predjudice. It has to catch my eye and interest me or I don’t even look to see who the author is.

    And Facebook. Wow. When an author engages me personally on facebook, I look for their book and buy at least one (no matter what the cover looks like).
    On the flip side, I’ve purposely not bought a book by an author who’s Facebook personna is either too over the top, or off-putting.

    One other problem I have is owning a Kobo. Many authors have sales, or ‘free’ events that only apply to Amazon. I’ve downloaded a few to my PC but only for special reasons because I don’t like reading on my laptop, its supposed to be where I go to write :)

    On that note, will you be putting QUIT YOR DAY JOB on Kobo?

    thanks for sharing your wisdom!
    Kathryn

    Posted by Kathryn Jane | June 25, 2012, 11:44 am
    • Hi Kathryn,
      I’m currently trying to get all of my books on Kobo and right now I”m going through Smashwords but want to go direct as soon as they release their self pubbing platform, so very soon!

      Posted by HP Mallory | June 26, 2012, 11:34 am
  7. Thanks for this article. I wanted to ask about your email list: do you use any specific software to collect and/or distribute addresses, and later to send out info about your books? It seems that most personal email programs get “upset” if you put in too many addresses; they think you’re spamming. But I’ve read about email “services” you can use to enter addresses, then send out mass emails, but they are kind of pricey. Any suggestions? thanks.

    Posted by Laurie Evans | June 25, 2012, 12:14 pm
    • Hi Laurie,
      Everyone opts into my email list from my website. Then I save their contact info in yahoo contacts and export my contact list into mailchimp.com and then send my emails from there. It does cost me becuase I have so many names now but it’s small compared with the return so it’s worth it in my mind.

      Posted by HP Mallory | June 26, 2012, 11:35 am
  8. My apologies for being late! Internet has been down…augh! Withdrawals…..=)

    I think this is a great primer list for anyone thinking to self pub….and I’ll definitely agree about the cover! Great list!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | June 25, 2012, 4:27 pm

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