Self-Publishing is now pretty much an acceptable way to get a book out to an author’s target audience. But self-publishing and successful self-publishing may be two different things. Following are some (hopefully) useful thoughts.
Does it take a certain kind or level of talent to be a writer? That’s a challenging question. It seems that some people can write in the same easy, breezy way that some of us breathe. On the other hand, there are people who can’t put ten words together that are readable. The only way to find out which of these you are is to write, and write a lot. Ask someone (not a friend or family member) to review and critique what you’ve written. And keep trying. Sometimes the fire ignites, and sometimes it doesn’t. If you can’t write with flow, maybe write reference books, or take a class in creative writing.
What should you write about? Another good question. Whether you choose to write fiction or non-fiction, you should write about something you know, something you’ve lived through or have personal experience with. Or write something that you have or will do extensive research on.
Self-publish or “real” publisher
Many people think that a mainstream publisher will make your book better through editing, will give your book great distribution, has the know-how to promote your book, will give you credibility, etc. That means first getting an agent, because it’s almost impossible anymore to get directly to a publisher. And then your percentage from sales, after all the hours or years you’ve put in, is a pittance. However, that route is not as valid or lucrative as it once was. The reality is that if you need an editor (and you should probably think along those lines), hire an independent one. Get a referral or look online. The same is true for internal artwork, book design, and cover design. And when it comes to actually publishing your book, there are any number of credible resources (e.g., Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing).
Marketing & Selling
So, without a mainstream publisher, how can you sell books. The answer is somewhat simple. First, you should definitely have a website where you can display as much information about your book as you want. And you’ll need to think of some keywords that people will use to find subjects like yours when they do a web search. Your website should direct people to a source or distributor that handles the actual order-taking and delivery of your work. Or you can choose to do your own shipping.
Second, it you sell through an online publisher, you don’t have to do much—if the book sells off their “shelf. But you can do public speaking and other activities, where you might read part of your book or discuss it.
You should first concentrate on writing a “good” book. Quality and word-of-mouth often do more for sales than promotion. Take a little time to learn the ropes of self-publishing. You’ll probably never look back.
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