That is what you call healthy competition. Some of them will succeed and see the day when they are able to support themselves with their writing. Some will give it up after a few months of not selling many books, and some will never even bother to publish the book at all due to their misunderstanding of how publishing works.
If you have been thinking about marketing, think about the photo to the left. Does your effort to get your book noticed and garner attention for your work ever stop? The definitive answer: not if you really want to succeed. There are never enough people talking about your work–and no matter who you are–whatsisname from some place or Stephen King, you want them talking, for better or worse.
I have been very lucky in my career as a reviewer to meet A Lot of very talented, determined authors that value the hard work it takes to promote their writing. While I do not distinguish much between self publishing and traditional publishing when it comes to how I regard a book for review, I certainly do when it comes to the marketing efforts of the author. When you have no publishing house, PR department etc. backing you up, you had better be equipped with determination and drive to succeed.
I am very proud to present Mr. Harry Steinman, and his perspective on this matter. Harry has walked the walk before he talked the talk and is one of the most intelligent, well-spoken individuals I have had the pleasure of working with. He has graciously agreed to a series of Thursday guest posts about marketing, writing and this wonderfully (and sometimes frustrating) business we writers refer to as daily life. Feel free to pick his brain and ask him tough questions. If anyone can answer them with gusto–it is Harry.
Wet Paint and Hot Stoves: What I Learned About Self-Publishing
First in a series of essays for independent writers
I make a crummy employee. “You’re a talented guy, Harry, and your work is good,” the termination meetings begin, “but you can’t do things your own way here.”
Sorry, but I’m incapable of anything else. I carry the iconoclast gene in my DNA, and it’s a dominant trait. If it ain’t broke…I’ll break it. “Wet Paint” signs beckon with siren irresistibility. I’ve never walked away from a hot stove, despite burns and blisters. And I’ll do it my own way when it comes to publishing.
After I wrote Little Deadly Things, I attended workshops on query letters. I met with agents and editors at writers’ forums. They dispensed good advice—consistent advice, anyway. I collected business cards galore and practiced my elevator speech. I pitched my novel again and again.
A few months later, I attended a workshop on self-publishing. Bring on the wet paint and hot stoves.
In August, 2012, I published Little Deadly Things through my own publishing house, Alloy Press. The book’s been on and off the Kindle best-seller list in a few categories. One weekend, 22,133 readers downloaded the book when it was a Kindle freebie. The book earned back all of the self-publishing expenses by Thanksgiving, and even showed up on my tax return in the profit column.
I made some smart moves when I published Little Deadly Things. I made some colossal blunders, too. Case in point: I revised several chapters after my copy editor finished her task. Read the reviews on Amazon: readers spotted every typo I missed and trumpeted the mistakes with a Jehovah’s Witness’s zeal.
Ionia Martin asked me to chronicle what I learned for Readful Things and for the next few months, you can read my account. In the virtual world, an expert is someone who’s done something once, so take my advice with a grain of salt—hell, use a salt lick for that matter.
I’m not going to promote self-publishing. Better writers have done so with eloquence that comes from experience that I lack. What I offer is a template for the inexperienced. (For my money, the best is argument for self-publishing is, “Eisler & Konrath v. Hanchette” in A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, December 7, 2011. That’s Eisler, as in Barry Eisler, who rejected a $500,000 advance from Hanchette in favor of self-publishing.) http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/12/eisler-konrath-vs-hachette.html
Three principles guided me during the self-publishing process:
1. It’s hard to self-publish. It’s even harder to sell your book, no matter how well-written.
2. Marketing is the backbone of publishing. You publish because you want others to read your writing. Marketing connects you to your readers.
3. Marketing is the writer’s responsibility, whether she self-publishes or is picked up by one of the legacy houses.
I’ll add meat and milk to these postulates over the course of ten installments. The first three posts— “The Babel Effect”, “The Writer’s Dirty Secret”, and “What the Caveman Saw”—describe essential marketing activities that you must do before you prepare your book for publication. Ignore the preliminaries and I predict that your book will not sell. Follow them and you’ll have a fighting chance for success.
You’ll find the nuts and bolts in, “Ten Steps to Build Your Self-Publishing Empire”. I’ll lay these out in the fourth and fifth installments.
“Two Seconds to a Sale or to Fail” covers…well, covers. People do judge a book by its cover and back-cover copy. You’ll learn what to look for in book cover and how to get blurbs from other writers. “Books Don’t Grow on Trees” shows you how to have a successful Kickstarter project to fund your publishing. “Vendors I’ve Known and Loved (and How to spot the Good Ones)” helps you find reliable professionals.
Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart. “How to Survive a Five-Star Review on Amazon” starts with the account of a faux reviewer who used some nasty tactics in an attempt to torpedo my novel, and the simple technique I used to protect Little Deadly Things. That’s entertainment. More important, you’ll learn the best ways to get honest reviews, and why planted reviews will catch up with you.
I hope you can benefit from my many missteps and occasional successes. Please tell Ionia if these periodic posts are not valuable, and I’ll stop. If they’re invaluable, I’ll keep on. And if you find some small merit in them, please: buy my book, read it, and write an honest review.
If you would like to learn more about Harry’s experiences you can click here: http://grubdaily.org/what-the-caveman-saw%e2%80%94lessons-from-a-17000-year-old-blog/
I look forward to reading the next installment Harry, and thank you so much for agreeing to let us pick your brain!