For those looking to self-publish their next book, the going can seem a bit tough. There are a number of things you have to consider as a self-published author, from simultaneously promoting your book to writing new ones. What adds to the problem is that the publishing and marketing scenario changes each year. You will see plenty of new writers today, all eager to make their mark.
With different and varied promotional channels to use today, you can find it pretty confusing as a writer. While branding might seem a concept best suited to brands like Amazon and Rolex, as an author remember that you can create a brand name too.
Your words and books will brand yourself as an author. Most authors do not think about branding, at least not till they have already published their first novel. Branding though, needs to start early. Think of the success of your first book as the fruit you get after planting a tree. You don’t get a fruit without a tree. You need to have a seed and nurture and grow it to a tree before it can offer you a fruit. Branding is the growth of the tree from the seed; you need to take time to develop name recognition for yourself so that it can help you sell the books. While we aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, many of us do judge them by the author.
So, what does it mean to be successful today as a self-published author? Let’s look at three writers who are making it big today, and how they are doing it.
For Russ Colchamiro, the journey started in 2010 when he published Finders Keepers. A sci-fi novel, the book discusses about the problems adult face when moving out from a college and looking for a career. After around four years, Colchamiro has a second and third part of the book planned out. While the second book named Genius DeMilo is to be out soon, he is also working on the third book that’s yet untitled.
Knowing and planning out the themes of the book has helped Colchamiro plan out a structured approach. For him, he already has developed all the points and the plot in detail, something that gives him confidence.
That’s not the only thing that he has been writing about though. Colchamiro wrote a book last year as well, titled Crossline, something that he is still promoting aggressively. Writers cannot rest by publishing a book. For Colchamiro, it is about handling his job, the three-year-old twins at home, penning down the new copies, and promoting Crossline that’s keeping him engaged.
With writers all over, you really have to believe in your networking abilities and creating out a niche for yourself. With reader choices increasing, engagement with fans is one of the primary concerns for him.
Doing everything alone isn’t feasible of course, and one needs to be able to use different platforms effectively. Colchamiro for one, is a member of the Crazy 8 Press. The Crazy 8 press is a place for sci-fi authors and was founded in 2011. The 30-members strong team cross-promote each other in different platforms and conventions.
The problem for self-published authors isn’t just coming out with a new novel. They have to market and sell themselves, and with many of the authors being introverts, the problem can be big. Focusing on traditional sales tactics only isn’t the right way to go, a reason Colchamiro is thinking of innovative and newer techniques, like hiring an artist to draw in the characters of his novel. Additional efforts like these are what help draw in the audience, who are all on the lookout for ‘something different’.
That doesn’t mean Colchamiro do what other writers do, maintaining a presence in everything from Facebook, Twitter to the now-popular Pinterest.
He is the second author that we will talk about, a writer who finds himself publishing one of the best mystery novels by a self-published author. His earlier two novels, the Immortality and Ghost of the Gods are both on Amazon’s bestseller lists. Both the books are techno-thrillers, and a niche Bohacz seems to specialize in.
So, what did he do different than the other writers out there? Bohacz doesn’t know himself except that he had done a number of interviews about the book before the launch. In Bohacz’s case, it seems that Amazon had taken the responsibility on itself to promote his book, which was featured as the #1 techno-thriller when it released. Peculiarly, while the Ghost of the Gods is enjoying easier promotion thanks to his previous success.
Bohacz’s case seems to be one of luck or of factors that he isn’t himself aware about. The timing of his first book, Immortality, it should be remembered, was in 2007, when the markets for self-publishing was just starting to take off. A lot has changed since 2007, including Amazon’s promotional tools for print books that authors could avail of back then. Now, Amazon promotes book when the author offers it as a giveaway or offers a substantial discount, and you may not want to give away your book for peanuts.
Changing times require a change in strategies, a reason Bohacz has employed a social media marketer to promote his books. He is currently working on two other novels, the Dream Signs, a thematic sequel to the Dream Dancers that he had published way back in 1993 and The Bridge, which is based a little on his life itself.
Tim’s story is a bit like that of many other self-published authors out there. Tim didn’t find any good publishers for years who would publish his memoirs. In 2010, he tried the self-publishing method, but that didn’t bring in too many sales. Sure, there was the occasional review and sale but it wasn’t anything substantial.
Then one of Amazon’s acquiring editors saw the book, and wanted to republish it under the Amazon Encore imprint for a larger audience. The sales started then, and not before.
In fact, it’s been easier for Tim after that who went to Amazon again for his second memoir, Sweet Tooth, which was published under the imprint of Lake Union Publishing. While Amazon’s reader base is unquestionable, you don’t find its books in your nearest bookstore, with most having an anti-Amazon policy.
In other words, authors often have to compromise on certain fronts. Tim thus publishes books under the pseudonym of T. Neill Anderson as well. He also performs the occasional work-for-hire and writes travel stories at times.
So what’s the best way to make money online through self-publishing?
As a self-published author, you need to look for creative ways to market yourself. The competition is huge, and you need to build your own fans and followers. Branding is a great way to do that.
Let’s take a simple analogy.
The tree offers fruits only when you care for it; you need to look at the long-term goals while branding. Think about what you plan to do with your book, for instance. Do you plan to come out with any sequels? A proper plan of who you want to be and how you want to be known is essential.
To start off with your own branding plan, decide:
– How you want to be known as a writer?
This includes thinking about what you are going to write and the stories that you would want to tell. Jason Fried, author of Rework, came up with the book that tells about his work lifestyle in many ways.
We know about Timothy Ferriss’, author of The Four Hour Work-Week, as one who can come out with innovative ideas for entrepreneurs and businesses. Every book of these writers offer a certain perception about the author. Think about what you can stand out on as a writer, and your area of niche.
– Don’t forget the basics
It’s simple. You need to have a social media presence. You need to interact with your customers and look out for the best possible option. If you are looking to self publish and have Amazon promoting your book with you, what’s the royalty share deal? Decide on a price according to your niche audience.
If your book’s in the bookstore, know that bookstore browsers only look at the front page of a book for around 8 seconds and around 15 seconds looking at the back cover before making a purchase decision.
– Come out with an eBook
Coming out with printed versions of your book is amazing. However, you need to look at the eBook reader base of Kindle as well. You can follow the model of Tim Anderson. Publish eBook for your marketing purposes and use Amazon to build lead bait.
Remember, Amazon promotes your eBook if you offer it as a giveaway, so you can actually try that out with a small eBook to build your brand name first. It doesn’t cost anything and will help you build the leads.
- Soubhik Chakrabarti