Seeing that I have yet to achieve success, I’m not sure I should write this post… but I will anyway.
Self publishing is easy. You write the thing, you log in to Amazon, you upload the thing, you press the publish button.
Successful self publishing is a nightmare of frustration and heartache. Here’s why:
1. If you didn’t already have a massive Twitter following, you need to grow one.
Much easier said than done, and sure, you can buy the “follower” services, but they just hack people’s accounts and force them to follow your page. As soon as the person realizes, they’re going to unfollow you and change their password.
You first need to start following people in your genre, hopefully they’ll do you the good grace of following back. Eventually you’ll start to get unprompted follows, which you have to be wary. You’ll follow them back, and as soon as you do, they unfollow you. It’s dirty tricks Twitter is…
Before you even get a few hundred people following you, you need to start posting. A good ratio (from my marketing manager) is 25% book 75% personal. So… get ready to share all the mundane and strange things going on in your life with people you hardly know (or don’t know at all…)
Fortunately for you, the highest volume of likes/follows/purchases for authors do not come from Twitter. They come from:
2. Facebook sucks, your Facebook friends suck, and their friends suck too.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a few close friends and family members that are dedicated to your cause, and helping you out. If you’re unlucky, your Facebook page will need some serious money thrown at it to become even marginally well known. Luckily enough, Facebook offers some good tools for getting your page out there, promoting your posts, etc. Not only that, they have some really good data output on everything so you can fine tune your campaigns. I’m a dataphile, so I really liked this.
3. Reviewers don’t want your self published garbage.
I’ve been to hundreds of websites, bordering on thousands soon, looking for people who would review my work. About 70% of the time, their review policy clearly states no self published titles. There are some good reasons for it, and I totally understand.
A. Your book may actually be total crap… I know it’s hard to come to grips with, but it is a possible reality. They typically don’t have time to wade through all the crap to find the gems, and everyone thinks they have gems.
B. You could make their lives a living hell… “When will my review be ready?” “Are you going to give me 5 stars?” “Are you going to post it on GoodReads? Twitter? Facebook? Are you going to tell your mom?” “Can you do it faster please?” “Will you do an author interview?” “WHY DID YOU RATE IT 2 STARS! ZOMGWTFBBQ!!!”
See… it’s stressful for them too. They don’t deserve this.
C. They often have full time jobs, kids, spouses, fur-babies, obligations. Again with the gems in the poop… they don’t have time to find them.
4. All the rejection letters.
Even when you do find a reviewer that will read self published works, you’re going to get about 50-80% of them replying “I’m sorry, but I’m not able to read Book Title.” If at any point right here you consider pressuring them for why, stop. Stop right now. Reviewers talk to each other, and if you’re asking why after being rejected, you’re one of those #3.B people. No one will want to work with you.
5. You no longer have time for anything else in your life. Ever.
If you work, and self publish on the side, you will not have time for diets, exercise, anime, cooking, going to the grocery store, practically anything else while you’re getting started. Your free time must be dedicated 100% to the cause if you are even to get close to success.
This is getting pretty long… so I’ll end with, here’s a list of things you should invest your time in if you’re wanting to be successful in self publishing:
1. Start a ton of social media accounts, join tons of groups, get visibility:
– Myspace (just kidding)
– Book Blogs
2. Post at least once a day to Twitter/Facebook/Google+.
Anything less than that is suicide.
3. Post a new blog twice a week.
Don’t tell me you have nothing to post about… tons of stuff happens in your life everyday, and you have at least 10 years of history to talk about if you need.
4. Be super active on GoodReads/Shelfari, reviewers like a well-read author.
Find sites that support indie/selfpub authors like yourself and cling to them desperately.
5. Ask your friends to share and support you. Bribe them with food/beer if you have to.
GET COVER ART AND PROMOTIONAL ART FOR YOUR WORK. I can’t stress this one enough. People are visual, they just are. Presenting them with some kick a$$ art to go with your book when begging for reviews will make you that much more likely of being successful. Get cover art. Get promotional art for running advertisements. Shell out the $150-$300 that’s needed to make this happen because it will pay you back tenfold.
6. When contacting reviewers, remember that they are human.
They want to be talked to, they want you to take more than 15 seconds to glance over their review policy before contacting them. Read their About Me, stalk them on social media for a little while, and when you contact them, relate to them somehow. Make it personal. This is likely the most draining part of the process. Learning about someone so you can ask them a favor of losing 2-8 hours of their time to read your work, then lose another hour or two writing a review. Be nice to them, be actually invested in being in contact with them.
Jess D. Harpley
From an early age I was in love with the written word, and space – the final frontier. I’ve always had a flair for science fiction, horror, and gore, perhaps due to the fact that I’ve brushed with death multiple times. Almost crushed by a 60lb window when I was 4, serious car accident when I was 6 (I was the driver of said vehicle), nearly choked to death on candy two weeks later (mother had to stick her hand down my throat to remove it!), and two additional life threatening car accidents.
The summers I spent at my father’s house were always reading books, writing, and watching The Fifth Element on repeat. Oh… and Descent 2. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can still see those halls. Damn, I love that game.
I managed to grow into a self sufficient, responsible(ish) adult, working as a Producer at a video game studio in Boulder, CO. I spend a lot of time with my husband, friends, and fur-babies (Doberman, Rottie-mix, & a calico kitty), but when I’m not at home I’m typically climbing things, running around, doing handstands, or generally putting myself in harms way for fun. Other silly hobbies include playing airsoft, cooking, and staring at space, sometimes with a telescope!
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