There is no doubt that the world of book publishing has changed with the advancement of online technology.
It seems like an age ago when print published work was one of the only ways to get your novel out to the public. But now there is the world of online self-publishing that has opened many doors for writers. There are no magic bullets though and it can take a lot of work to have success when self-publishing.
So it appears that whilst technology has opened doors for writers to get their work seen by huge audiences – at the same time due to the sheer volume of self-published work it’s difficult to even get noticed and in this article, we will look at ways you can self publish and get your work noticed!
Before going further – here are a few sobering facts to bear in mind:
There are over 6 Million Kindle e-books and they are around 7,500 new kindle books published per day! Even for the most avid reader, it would be impossible to read all these books in a lifetime. And these figures don’t include all the other e-book platforms such as Google Play, Apple Books and Barnes and Noble etc… These numbers are quite mind-boggling and something to consider when self-publishing.
Key Factors For Self-publishing:
Listed below are 5 key factors that will help to make your book stand out and engage with readers:
- Feedback: Before self-publishing get feedback on your book, pay for a beta reader, go to some open readings and read extracts from it, or join a small group of other writers who all feedback on each other’s work (if you wish to search for these online – these groups are also known as mastermind groups). The key thing is that you get another opinion on your work and are better able to gauge what, if anything, needs to be improved.
- Formatting and Editing: Make sure your book is proofread, edited and formatted correctly before self-publishing.
- A Great Book Cover: The book should have a relevant, well designed and eye-catching book cover. (If possible get two or three designs created and post them online and get feedback for what cover people like the most before choosing a final version). I often hear you must hire a designer to do your book cover, and this is great advice. But if you are a designer then you probably can do your own cover! So this advice is good, but make your own final decision. Generally speaking, it is best to get someone else to do your cover, and even if for the only reason it means you don’t have to spend any time on it when you could be writing.
- Building Relationships: Promote your upcoming work to people that are interested in your chosen genre and build as much interest as you can around your work. Get involved in groups, networking or people who are also writing and/or are fans of the genre of your book. Make friends and build relationships with writers that have similar goals that you do. These relationships can be of great support and encouragement when you are an up and coming writer.
- Marketing Plan: You should have a marketing plan (and ideally a budget) to promote your book and create a big as possible book launch.
There are different ways to promote your book and many articles and advice online on how to do this, so put aside some time for research on this subject. But be careful to limit this research as you can endlessly look for advice and the best thing is just to get going and get promoting your work.
Building yourself a following, before you publish any work, can be very beneficial – but consider this – If you have no work published then what are you promoting? You are promoting yourself as a writer – that is certainly not a bad idea, but the time you spend on this should be limited until you have work to promote. This subject in itself is quite deep but here is a great video on social media marketing and how a lot of it can be a waste of time, but the key is your writing comes first and then you promote it and yourself.
Also, the advice I hear all the time is you need an email list, although they can be effective – but as with self-published books, newsletters have become very popular and our email boxes are getting flooded with them, thus reducing their impact.
For example do you open, read and click the links in all the newsletters you receive?
However, don’t worry as there many ways and routes to get your work and you as a writer recognised. Some of these ways don’t always get the attention they should. For example, you can easily pay for your work to be promoted on social media platforms or with other online adverts (which in turn can also be used to build a newsletter if you wish and this newsletter can go towards growing your name).
This leads into the next section of this article.
Promoting Your Work:
In one of my roles a few years back I was working at a marketing agency and one project I was managing was the social media content creation for a famous cereal brand. This project had a budget for the design work and then it had a separate budget for promoting the content on social media.
After a few months of working on this account – I got the update that the media budget (used for promoting the posts) had been halted. But the budget for the design work was still all in place. So do you think that the marketing manager at the cereal company gave the go-ahead to continue with the design work?
No, not at all – it was halted almost immediately even though the budget was still there for the design work. This was for a very simple fact and this is that if the posts are not promoted then barely anyone will see them and this is to the degree where there is no point in posting new content.
It’s also fairly well known in marketing (but not so well known to all social media users) that when you post to your own channel on social media accounts these posts will be shown to a very limited number of people. On Facebook for example – a post you make is only shown to about 20% to 25% of the people that follow you (that is if they are even looking at the newsfeed at the time it comes up in their feed).
Thinking about this from another perspective – if you are an advertiser you would want as much bang for your buck as possible, so it’s in the interest of social media platforms to maximise how well an ad performs when someone or a firm pays for one (or a bunch of them). This meaning limiting organic content (posts without payment) as much as possible, so paid-for content has the biggest impact possible.
In some ways, things haven’t changed from print – where you had to pay to get some posters or magazine ads made. So if you want to get some decent views on your posts then you should pay to promote them.
But the good news is that even small sums of money can considerably increase the views of your posts. So drop $5 or $10 on a post and it will perform much better. This also saves you any silly time spending hours and hours building a following, when you should be writing and then the writing will build a following for you. So if you can spare the money then promote some of your posts to direct people to your work or to gain new followers. Also, do research, create some engaging posts and start with a few experimental posts to see on what platform they perform the best.
Finally, make sure to do further research on how to promote your book and the best ways to market yourself. For when it comes to your self-published book launch make sure you have some great ads/posts and then spend as large a sum as possible on promoting your book. Ideally, this will also coincide with a book launch event and a promotional offer or some form of discount and/or benefit with the book.
In the build-up to your book launch also aim to create as much buzz as possible – and whilst I have some mixed views on the time you should spend doing this I would urge you to limit this until you have a book or some content to share. I know this goes against some other advice out there – and you should be building your name as best possible. But consider the tens of thousands of posts and articles by other writers who are all doing the same thing and how crowded the market place is.
So mindfully market your work and focus on your writing first.
A Distracted Audience:
A final point to conclude this article is that not only has publishing been radically changed by technology, but so has the world we live in. We have never been so inundated with information, adverts, posts and articles, movies and TV shows, books and content to consume, so it’s hard to stand out.
Remember why you are writing in the first place. I assume it is not just because you wanted to be rich, as they are easier ways than writing to do this, but because you love storytelling. You felt compelled to write and share your work. So above all else always keep this insight. Focus on the story and the characters you are revealing. This is where worlds come to life and emotions run like rivers.
Away from all the distractions magic can happen and we all love nothing more than when we read something that makes us tingle, laugh or cry.
This article has focused on self-publishing, (although this isn’t a pro’s and con’s of either route to take) but as a writer, you should consider traditional publishing (before self-publishing) and for further info on getting published please see this article here on 3 factors to help get your book published. Also for a little inspiration see this article here on 10 Bestsellers That Began as Self-Published Books.