So you want to pursue self publishing?
Maybe you’ve written a book and you’re just setting out on the author/publisher path. Maybe you’ve been querying agents with no forward momentum. Or maybe you’re just starting to write your soon to be indie novel bestseller.
It really doesn’t matter what stage of the process you are currently in. The world of self publishing is a deceptively complicated one.
Sure there are short cuts. There are services that remove the headaches of the process. But when it comes to these services, you are putting your publishing success in the hands of someone else.
Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of being an indie to begin with?
Why I became an Author/Publisher
There are a number of reasons I chose to pursue self publishing rather than the trad route. But the main reason: I want to be in charge of my own destiny.
When you become an author/publisher, you are in control. It is up to you to figure out cover design, editing, printing, marketing, funding, and all those other happy little tasks.
To be successful, you’ll need to educate yourself on each one of these topics. Even if you plan on hiring outside help, which you will need to do to get a proper cover or editing especially, you will still want to learn the ins and outs of the process.
Blogs vs. Books
The first thing I did when studying self publishing was perform a series of google searches on the topic. What I found was a random smattering of information, often conflicting. It was never in order of the process, and usually hyper focused on just one topic.
Because of this, I recommend you buy the following four books. Read in the order I recommend below, they will walk you through the entire process.
These books were slected and set in this order with one goal in mind: be successful.
What is success?
For you success may mean something different than for me. So I’m going to outline my idea of success when it comes to self publishing. If your goals are in line with mine, then this reading list is for you. If not, I still recommend these books just so you can learn the process.
Success is quality. The finished product, be it an ebook, paperback or hardcover must be equal to or greater than the quality of a traditionally published book. This means good design, fully edited, great writing, etc.
Success is control. I don’t want to fumble around in the dark and hope I’m doing things right. I want to know my options and make informed decisions. For example, should I print my paperback using Createspace or Lightning Source (or Lulu, or one of the many other POD options). Speaking of POD, is that the best method, or should I pursue small batch printing?
Success is readers. Here’s a quote from a little known indie movie called The United States of Leland. “You’re not a writer unless someone else is reading your shit.” I don’t agree wholeheartedly with that statement, but readers make up a large part of success in my mind.
Success is income. Yes, money. That may taste bad to you, but I want to be able to earn a living doing what I love, writing full time. Success isn’t fame or wealth, but it is income.
The 4 books you need to read to become a self published success
Before you write, read:
The most difficult part of self publishing is by far marketing which is why 3 of these books are all about spreading the word (everything else is more or less step by step). Get Known… is the first recommendation because it focuses on marketing before you have anything to market except for yourself.
Marketing is an ugly word for most writers, but it doesn’t need to be. I’m not talking about ads or pushing your book in front of uninterested people. I’m talking about making yourself known through organic means while building your platform.
This book focuses on networking, building your blog, and getting the process started while establishing a platform you can use to kickstart your first book. If you are just starting out, or if you are planning on publishing a book in the near future, read this one first.
When I asked Christina to share something about her book, she had this to say:
“Platform is EVERYTHING in your writing career. Your platform determines your success as an author, whether self-published or traditionally published. It also determines how large of a readership you will command in and outside of your published works. And, most importantly, platform determines how much you can earn as a writer in a rapidly changing publishing eco-system.
“No platform, no success. That’s just the way it goes today. And don’t let anyone tell you that this is bad news. Platform ownership is the best thing to happen to writers, possibly, in history.”
Before you publish, read:
2.APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book
by Guy Kawasaki
APE is the most comprehensive book on the actual process of self publishing. Covering the nitty gritty details like beta reading, editing, design, printing, ect. you’ll learn everything you need to in order to create a quality book.
APE is frequently updated to keep up with the changing publishing landscape, so no matter when you buy it you’re sure to get all the latest information. For this reason, I recommend buying the ebook.
The one thing APE doesn’t really touch on is marketing, but that’s ok because it focuses on the things you need to bring your book from manuscript to a quality product.
Before release day, read:
So your book is headed down the pipeline and is scheduled for publication a few months down the road. Now you need readers. You’ve already started the process with Get Known… so you should have a foundation in place to begin implementing the strategy outlined in Your First 1000…
Your First 1000… focuses on a particular kind of marketing call permission marketing. This is where you make yourself available to readers and they choose to follow you. Once they make that choice, it’s your job to not let them forget about you by plugging the holes in your platform, giving your readers useful or entertaining content, and finally selling you book.
Most of this will be done using your blog and your email newsletter, two of the most powerful marketing tools in a writer’s toolbox today. Follow this process and you’re destined to build a passionate readership.
When I asked Tim to share something about his book, he had this to say:
“Marketing is no longer a dirty word. In today’s publishing world, the act of marketing is just two things: 1) creating long-term connections with people and 2) being relentlessly helpful. With that in mind, you focus on getting permission to stay in contact with fans, connect with them through sharing content widely and freely and then use outreach to move people from not knowing you exist to knowing you exist. This “Connection System” is something every author can use to be successful.”
After your book’s released, read:
So you have a platform, a completed and released book, and a thriving permission based marketing system. Now you need to work on outreach. While Your First 1000… is great at building the best kind of marketing system, is only touches on outreach where Sell Your Book… really takes off.
This is the most technical of the marketing books in this list and presents a wide array of outreach strategies. Some of the tactics here have been touched on in the books before it, but here we delve into an outreach strategy that will get you book in front of thousands of people at a time if done correctly.
When I asked Rob to share a something about his book, he had this to say:
“Anyone will tell you that it’s important to expand your author platform. Yet, few are actually successful enough to show you how. As the old adage says, “Never take financial guidance from a broke person.” Likewise, don’t give credence to book marketing advice from someone who has never written a book or actually succeeded in selling their work on a large scale. There is too much blind leading the blind in the publishing industry. Instead, follow a leader who has already gone down the road, knows the difference between the land mines and shortcuts, and has the experience to help you navigate a steady course.”
The big picture
As you can see, there is more to self published and becoming an author/publisher than simply writing your book and throwing it through the meatgrinder hoping for sales. There are proven systems which work well for writers and readers alike because they excel at connecting the two in meaningful ways. Harness the power of these book and become a self publishing success.
As for me, I’m in the midst of this process. I’ve been following many of the techniques laid out in these books and my platform has been steadily growing. My upcoming novel is set for release in January, so if you want to have a guinea pig to see how all this works, feel free to follow me and sign up for my newsletter.
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View all posts in this series
- What is a Kickstarter Project? - July 8, 2013
- The 4 books you need to read to become a self publishing success - October 10, 2013
- Behind the Scenes: The Many Stages of Editing a Novel - October 16, 2013
- 5 Ways Your Kickstarter Project Will Make You an Alcoholic - October 17, 2013
- How to hold your self-published novel to traditionally published standards
- 7 Essential Takeaways on Building Your Writing Platform / Foundation - November 6, 2013
- On why I chose to write a serial instead of a novel - August 1, 2014
- My Book Marketing Strategy in One Easy to Follow Guide - August 6, 2014
- Writers, Heres How I Take Advantage of Live Events (Cons, Book Readings, etc) - August 19, 2014
- A Look Back at My First Year and a Half in Publishing - September 10, 2014