It took a long time before I was truly able to do it on my own.
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. It’s – 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. Ghostwriting is also commonplace among the self-publishing industry, posing great issues. So what exactly do we do about this to make sure we are able to self-publish?
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 http://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?
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.
PROVIDE THEM WITH AN EXPERIENCE
But how does one do this?
Well, ask yourself what you are currently doing. Are you working on something with a potential dead-end? Does it broaden upon more than just financial success? In other words, what does your current work do that changes lives, sucks in the fabric of creative tenure, and allows the reader an experience like none other? Take the Harry Potter series. I am not saying you should compare your work or any work for the same asset, what J.K. Rowling did with that was provide more than just an opportunity for success; it made people wait outside book stores just to be one of the first to receive a copy of the next “chapter” in the Harry Potter series.
Lesson #1: An Experience Is Unsaid
In other words, it isn’t meant to be that way.
You do not start with people waiting outside of bookstores, and even going as far as the store making an event out of it. But you have every intention to add to the series, or if just one book: provide potential for more than just one copy. The most notable examples of an “experience” are ones with a sequel. “The Matrix” series never intended to go past one collective movie ticket, but they were able to add onto it (haphazardly, I might add) based on having created an elemental world with broad character presence. The same went with the Harry Potter series, and even “The Dark Tower” started off without much visceral intent on meeting seven or so books proceeding it. Now, what do I mean by, “An Experience Is Unsaid”? Well, take the aforementioned. Being so broad in scope that you are begged to write another to add to it, is my general idea. An experience does not come off as one. Rather, it is felt through the reader, and it is the responsibility of the writer to always set out for just one book, but write as if you will be. That way, you are well-prepared for what is to come.
Lesson #2: Experience Is Emotion
That plain and just that simple. And you should know when you have done this when you read your final draft (or possibly your second or third) and you feel the ethereal impact you make on yourself. Imagine breaking down into tears with your own book, let alone the reader’s response! You want to hear people chanting your name at the end of your book. And though it is not always that simple, a true author knows that you must appeal to human psychology and the concept of perception: if you can write something that makes you, personally, feel impacted in some manner, that is the essence of writing! Your job as a writer is to implement emotions into your manuscript, and you do that by doing what all of the greats have to do at some point or another: surrender to your own passion, and use it to make people cry (or laugh, or scream).
Lesson #3: Experience Is Simple
Yet not so simple. You have to make it so the reader, in their own way, do not even know they are experiencing an impact on their psyche. A series like “The Dark Tower” never indicates an emotional reaction on the reader, but in doing so they are applying a psychological principle. The term, “psychological immersion” works here. It is much like video game immersion: the fact that to get a user addicted to playing a game based on audio and visual cues. It sucks them in! Immerse the reader in your world through a dynamic setting and proactive characters of strong backgrounds. Never let that immersion up; this is what keeps a book from being halfway read (or as I call it: “halfway hindered”). Think of your book as a song: it needs to match up properly, and successfully, to suck a reader into your fantasy world, where quite anything is possible. Avoid planned plot twists. If you are aware of a twist, the reader somehow knows…
Lesson #4: Experience Is Fire
What does that mean exactly? Well, providing an experience is much like providing fuel to a fire: you have to give the reader a reason to put it out. Twists and turns work on a number of levels, but it only goes so far. You should read my book, “Through Jaded Eyes,” which provides a serious foundation for what I am talking about. There is no road map; everything is so scattered and hectic that the reader has to keep up. If you can keep the reader on their toes, you have established a fire. Fire is what fuels the reader to keep reading. It is unpredictable, demented, scary, and funny, and perhaps all at the same time. It facilitates a sense of chaos in the reader’s body, thus giving them a reason to continue with what you have established.
Sometimes it is almost best to start the book with a fire (literally, a fire is quite possibly the scariest unpredictability you can think of as it wreaks havoc in a haphazard manner), and not a literal fire, that continues to progress down a slope of incongruity, causing mayhem throughout the book. You must instill this fire from the git-go. Start by scaring the reader, and you might have a shot at success!
I hope this has been of assistance for you. Remember, writing in itself is an experience. How will you provide that same feeling to your users? How will you harness the writing powers within you to do good for others? And more importantly, how will success find you if you do not adhere to these rules? Comment on how this has helped!