I won’t lie here: self-publishing a book is the hardest experience I have ever gone through.
It took a long time before I was truly able to do it on my own. The truth is, self-published books rarely make the cut. Statistics say that more than 700,000 books were self-published in 2016 alone, and the average self-published book only sells an average of 250 books per year (or 2,000 books over its lifetime). These are statistics that are hard to swallow, but you need to know what you are going up against here.
Why Self-Publishing Fails
I am not saying all self-published books fail, but the fact is since 2013, an increase of 400,000 self-published books have been published, and most of them are what we call “fluff” books. These are books that progresses with authors writing four books per year, usually of bad quality, in hopes that once one of them gets recognized the others will, too. This is a misconception, as majority of the time these authors see less success than someone who has published just one book. The self-publishing market is saturated, and it is becoming far too easy to self-publish.
Too – Damned – Easy
It is way too easy to self-publish these days. With hundreds (perhaps thousands) of services facilitating self-publishing in an easy, albeit, selfless manner, it is no wonder why so many new books release each year only to fail by the hands of a relentless public. The reason behind so many failed self-published books is not the rate in which they are published but rather, it is because most authors are not businessmen, and they do not know how to market properly.
No one sticks to the 80/20 rule: 80% goes into marketing and 20% goes into production. If you cannot market, you cannot sell! To self-publish is to self-tread the waters of disdain and saturation. Even Amazon is beginning to crack down on the number of self-published eBooks. Plagiarism is beginning to become a concern, with authors often stealing other peoples’ works and hoping no one will find out.
So What To Do?
What do you do if you are a self-published author? Learn how to sell, learn how to market, and do it the right way. Do not trust what you read online about marketing a self-published book. I have read all of the tips and “tricks” these websites and blogs claim are successful strategies when really, they are strategies that may have worked for those individuals…but not quite you. This is not indicative of failure; just a warning.
You need to look at your book as a product and not art. Once it is in paperback format, you need to look at your marketing experience in the same manner a corporation would use to promote a new product coming off of an assembly line. Take some online marketing classes; go to www.Udemy.com and check out some marketing courses. And above all else, trust my verification: if you read a tip online, ask the source who this tip is catered toward.
Finding A Gimmick
So many authors relate to the term: “niche market.” This is a mistake. You cannot close off your demographic level if you are up against hundreds of thousands of others. You need to find a common way to relate to the reader. This can be in the form of a gimmick. An example was my first novel, “Through Jaded Eyes“, which replicates the tone and structure of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” series. I stuck with the Lean Method, which you can read about in my book: “Wings of Lead, Blood of Ink”: the principle that you should build a book around what the customer wants, not what you want!
I found the best way to relate to the readers was through fear. Since the book is about a future society ruled by fear, what better way to promote than through a gimmick as existential as fear itself? You can see on my website: www.Rwmcclellan.com that I warn people not to read it, and this acted as a liaison to just about every reader. You cannot look for a niche market; you must look for a way to relate to the common individual.
Still, even with a gimmick, it is hard to get anywhere calling yourself a “self-published author.” That is why I partner with other authors: to strategically market my books alongside theirs. This is something else you can learn in my book: “Wings of Lead, Blood of Ink,” which discusses how it is often best to form some sort of publishing company around your work. This allows readers a sense of perceived value, i.e. they will think more of your book if it appears to be backed behind a larger force than just your own being.
If you are a self-published author and need help, check out our “Services” page, which includes help marketing. And join our Promotion page! Follow the links to the right section where we will guide you in forming relationships with other authors, facilitating a sense of comradery.