Welcome a dear friend of mine Laura Stapleton with her first post to RU. Hooray!
Ever stand in line at the supermarket, see those “Lose Thirty Pounds in Two Seconds” and throw the magazine in the cart? You buy the issue all the while knowing there’s no great secret or everyone would be in shape. Sad to say, success in the indie publishing world is the same. It takes work. Behind every overnight success is a person who spent at least a decade either honing their craft or building their business savvy.
But I said secret, didn’t I?
Search “Self-Publishing Success” and you’ll find a lot of information. Some is from reliable sources, others from people wanting to make money. Most advice worked just fine a few years ago. Great, but in a new industry like self-publishing, even six months ago is already old news.
Despite rapid changes, the first step is to write the best book possible, get a professional cover, and write a grabby blurb/description. There are solid reasons for each of these.
Your book is a gift to the readers. Don’t you want it to be your best work every time? So craft is the understood must-do line item in a self-publishing checklist. Everything else is mutable, but the writing needs to be solid. Invest in a professional editor and get recommendations before hitting the publish button. No one can edit their work nor should they.
I realize some writers have a shoestring budget, maybe only a string budget, but an editor is worth the cost. You want someone professional and experienced in your genre. Ask around and get recommendations. I have had interesting stories, thankfully not horror stories, based on my not doing the research.
A professional cover is a must. There are authors whose shtick is a campy cover, but they’re very uncommon. You won’t find them on a bestselling list. Of course, now there will be several since I have put it in writing. Get the very best cover artist you can afford and be sure to check out their other covers.
Hiring someone with experience in your genre helps so much in getting the right cover. I happened to do my historical romance covers myself but had great genetics and four years of art class. Even then, you’ll probably be too close to the work to be a good judge of your abilities. Put your image next to those of the top ten sellers in your genre. Does it stand out in a good way? Or in a never again way? I tend to not like changing covers very often, since the modification has a cascading effect on getting new banners, business cards, bookmarks, website images, Facebook ad images, etc.
Now to the part everyone dreads, the blurb. How can a person write an epic novel of a hundred thousand words but those couple of hundred keep us up at night? Or worse, lose us sales? I’ve read a lot of blurbs in my time, everything from eh, to I must read, to you had me at the first sentence. I prefer writing the first sentence grabs, but who wouldn’t? There are professionals out there who write blurbs as a business. I’ve been tempted many times to hand a blurb over to a professional and say fix it! Just help me out of this misery.
Blurb checklists exist out there and be aware that each genre has their own methods of luring in the reader. Make their heart pound from the romantic suspense, the sensual, or sentimental, or all three. Thinking about why you had to write this book, in particular, will help convey that passion to the reader.
Those are the three things to consider for success. They are your foundation, and without one, the rest won’t stand as well. Even if you’ve heard this all before, it bears repeating. Writing, cover, and blurb.
But what about The Secret? The holy grail of getting book sales?
Assuming you know how even the best book needs some sort of advertising, it’s this. Publish odd, as in an odd number of books. Authors make more sales after the third, fifth, and seventh book is released. This sounds either suspect or obvious, sure. For some odd reason, the results aren’t the same for the second, fourth, and sixth or eighth.
A rule that may not be so obvious for the multi-genre authors is the books need to be in one genre. It wasn’t for me, anyway. I ignored the stick to one genre advice and wrote books in historical romance and contemporary romance with zero crossovers in readers, excluding family and my street team. I learned how publishing three different novels in separate genres build you three distinct audiences. For anyone, even the bigger names, getting readers who cross from one to another is highly unlikely.
Keep those three books in one or maybe two related genres, and you’ll see results. Attracting readers is even better if you can stay with a single series. The fourth book helps by leading to a fifth book. Same way for the sixth resulting in the seventh, and after that? As long as you and your readers are happy, why not turn it up to eleven?
RU Writers, got any self publishing hints our readers would like to know about?
Bio: With an overactive imagination and a love for writing, Laura Stapleton decided to type out her daydreams and what-ifs in order to share her lovable characters and their worlds with readers. She currently lives in Kansas City with her husband, daughter, dog, and a few cats. When not at the computer, you’ll find her in the park for a jog or at the yarn store’s clearance section.
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- How to choose the right publishing option for YOU by Oliver Rhodes
- Self Publishing is Not for the Faint of Heart with Magda Alexander