When writers begin the exciting step of self-publishing books, they may have some false preconceptions. The biggest one is that the book will start to sell on its own. That is probably not true.
Once the work of formatting and perfecting are over and the book is on the market, another world opens up to the author. It’s a world of more work called “promotion”. With current trends, many traditionally-published authors also have to handle all their own promotion. Positive thinkers have an advantage, but will encounter some hard truths:
It’s unusual for Returns to come immediately. Some writers will sell a lot of books. Some won’t. Any sales can be counted as a victory, but the feelings of success come when income exceeds costs. Without an existing advertising base and readership, an author begins building visibility when the first book is up for sale. Other books will compound the visibility. It takes patience and a little initial financial outlay even if the author opts for the bargain route. Check out an interesting article by Alison Flood on author earnings.
A book is only as visible as the writer makes it. Readers don’t see books unless they see good advertising in the right places. The fact that people can buy an author’s books doesn’t get them sold. Making them visible is hard work and takes a sharp mind. Promotion is a constant second job to the job of writing books. Authors need to be careful the second job doesn’t eclipse the true passion. The key is to find a few key activities that get results and help the writing, and stick to those. Quality time with a few promotional venues will bring a lot richer rewards while preventing burnout and spreading attentions too thin. Rick Frishman gives an interview on book publicity.
Social media is work! Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites are great places to sell books. The average writer’s friend list may not include a lot of readers, though. There will be even fewer friends who read the same genre. The key is to expand on existing contacts. Invite friends to participate, but resist the urge to spam. That will just get you un-followed. Genuine interaction is a much better sales method than a constant barrage of information. Here is an article on social media etiquette for authors.
There is more money to be made in promoting someone’s book than in writing and selling a book. If a writer wants to just write and have somebody else worry about promotion, they can. But it will cost them. A single book promotion tour can cost $2500 or more from a small company. If there isn’t a chunk of money available for promotion, the writer has to become their own promotion company. Often, authors who successfully promote their own work go on to do so for other authors for pay. Are the book marketing companies a scam? Kathleen gives her perspective.
Just because a new aspect to publishing a book seems overwhelming doesn’t mean that authors can’t conquer it. Many authors do. It takes courage and a spirit of adventure. An author who finishes a book has already demonstrated that they have these traits. Go for it!