Thursday, August 29, 2013

Write It, Publish It, Then Sell It

Play a little game with me today.When I look at this picture, I imagine myself spending a week in a seaside hotel with nothing to do but swim, dine, sip a glass of wine, relax and read. That book you see is mine. I've finally published a book. As an independent publisher. All mine. Glorious! I worked hard on the novel and I had a lot to learn about the self-publishing process, but it's all been accomplished. So I deserve this vacation. But it's not going to be a serenity filled week at all because I keep thinking about the stacks and stacks of books in cartons that are waiting for me at home. I'm writer, publisher and marketer. I have to sell all those books on my own. All of a sudden, my stomach hurts, my head is throbbing and I'm breaking out in a cold sweat. What next?

All of the above is purely imaginary, but the dream of writing and publishing your own book can end up being a major headache once it comes to the marketing end of the process. Publishing companies have people who do nothing but marketing. They know all the methods plus they have the contacts needed to get the word out when a book is published. You, as an independent publisher might think that's unfair competition.

Actually, it isn't. An independent goes into the project knowing that the burden of all parts of the process is going to fall on him/her. The joy of accomplishing the writing and creating an actual book to sell can often be dimmed considerably when the selling part grows to be a problem. I don't profess to know the best ways to go about it. There are certain things that most of us in the writing world would be able to suggest.

1.  Sell to your family and friends
2.  Advertise through social media
3.  Offer to speak to local groups about your book
4.  Contact libraries in your state
5.  Contact TV shows that do interviews in your area
6.  Attend Book Festivals and writer conferences
7.  Send promo copies and ask for reviews in newspapers, blogs and other media

All of the above will help sell some books but not in any large quantity. One thing that an independent publishing writer might consider is hiring a publicist. Another expense. But maybe it would be worthwhile. I do know that publicists sell their services as a package, and like all things, the more you pay, the more you get. I think I'd interview a publicist extensively to learn exactly what I might expect from them and how much difference they might make in your sales. Do some research and learn what a publicisit might do for you.

A few authors hit it lucky when they hit the ebook world. But I am guessing that it is only a very few. Many more sell enough books to cover original expenses and little more. Sounds discouraging, I know, but if you want to publish your own book, it's best to look at the realistic picture. That goes for ebooks and print.

Another suggestion is to head over to Amazon and take a gander at the help they have for you. Pages of titles! There are lots of people selling books about how to sell books. They've probably been there themselves and are willing to write a book and throw you a lifeline. Of course, they are also hoping for lots of sales on their book, just like you.

In all honesty, I've considered self-publishing a juvenile novel, a book of articles for beginning writers, an anthology of short stories for kids and a book of my memoir stories. I could learn the process of doing it as an ebook, maybe even the print on demand. It's the marketing that holds me back because I know that it's a huge process that must be worked on constantly and consistently. In my stage of life, I'm not sure I want to wrap that yoke around my neck. Twenty years ago, I'd have done it without even thinking about it. I'd have headed into it blindly no doubt, which is not a good way to take on a major project. Learn all you can before you commit.

If you want to be an independent author/publisher, do the research. Talk to others who have been there. Read books about the process. Then make the commitment but do so with your eyes wide open. I'm not trying to discourage those who would like to publish a book this way. Not at all. I admire anyone who does so and will give all the encouragement I can to them. Writing and publishing a book is a huge accomplishment, one to be proud of. Just know that there's still a lot of work to be done in the marketing.

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