No, I don't. I have to perform all those functions. Oh, and did I mention I also have to write the books? For we independent, self-pubbers, it can be daunting. I mean, hell, I'm the primary editor, the primary proofreader, the one who comes up with the vague idea for a cover so that my cover artist can work her magic and give me what I've described, and I'm my own marketing manager, even though I do have a team of folks who help promote me (God love 'em and thank them one and all!).
With that said, in the May/June issue of Writer's Digest, I found confirmation that I'm on the right track as far as what I need to do to eventually achieve success as a self-published author:
According to Writer's Digest, here are the first three steps to success:
- Make sure your story is good. The same rule applies to self-published e-books as it does to print books. You have to start with an enticing, top-notch story in order to persuade readers to keep turning the pages.
- Edit, edit, edit. If you can, hire a good freelance editor. Agents and publishers will reject a manuscript pretty quickly if it's not well edited. And if you go the self-published route, this step is even more important. To reverse the perception of self-published books as amateur, assume they'll need to be even better than traditionally published books, at least for a while.
- Build your marketing skills. Given that publishers offer increasingly limited promotional support, and self-publishing authors are entirely on their own, much of book marketing in today's environment is in creating "discoverability." You can't sell a book if no one knows it exists, so you'll need to create awareness however you can, whether it's through social media or blogging or passing out fliers on a street corner. Apply "the rule of setting 100 small fires": The best way to start a roaring bonfire is to strike many matches, because you never know which one is going to catch on and create a conflagratioon.
Just a couple of points of interest from that list:
My writing tip from last week was about editing, and I said that editing is second to writing only because you can't edit without writing first. Editing is also the #2 point on this list from Writer's Digest (WD), second only to writing a good story. So, yep, you've gotta write first, edit second, and both are just about equal in importance. But for self-publishers, edit is even more important than for traditionally published books.
Regarding the last point on WD's list, I often feel self-conscious that I'm promoting too much. I see other authors criticizing authors who promote a lot, but really, promotion is pivotal to self-publishing. This point on WD's list just proves I need to get over my self-consciousness and get more creative about where I promote and how. What WD says is true: If you want to start a huge fire, you need to start several smaller ones. As a person who knows this first-hand from building fires at my dad's house as a little girl, I can say with conviction that if you only strike a couple of matches, that kindling won't light up. I want my kindling to light up.
If you are an author reading this, where do you promote? How do you promote? Do you have any favorite sites, blogs, or tips for other authors who want to become better promoters (like me)?
Happy reading and happy writing!