Indie publishers make up 36% of the e-book market *authorearnings.com October 2016
28% of Americans read an e-book in 2016 *Pew Research Center, September 2016
Publishing books have never been easier. People will tell you it’s because the gatekeepers are gone, but that’s not true. All the gatekeepers are still there. It’s just that now there are new gates. And they are unguarded.
It’s still tough to make it as an author.
While publishing books has never been easier, selling them is still tough. These days the competition is fierce. Authors compete against a flood of free and cheap ebooks, social media, videos, movies, and even music. Millions of people are competing for your time, yet we each still have 24 hours in a day. How do we stand out from the crowd?
I’ve been self-publishing for over a year. Here are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far.
Write every day, no matter what.
If you want to be a writer, you have to write. Words are money when you’re a writer. The only way to make more money writing is to write more words.
Focus on getting reviews.
For people to pay attention to your books, you need to get a lot of reviews. To get a lot of reviews, people need to pay attention to your books. Now there’s a Catch-22.
The reviews don’t even have to be good. You just need as many as you can get. I’m finding out that this is more important than the next point:
Build your list.
The number one regret I hear from authors is that they didn’t start building an email list soon enough. The government could ban e-books tomorrow. Amazon could go out of business. Someone could hijack your book royalties. If any of these nightmare scenarios happen, you get back on your feet again quickly if you have the list of all your fans’ email addresses. Email lists are the most effective way of communicating with your audience. You’re reading this right now because you joined my email list.
Listen to self-publishing podcasts.
I listen to podcasts whenever I’m driving, walking brain isn’t thinking intensively. Listening to writing podcasts is a good way to keep up to date with news and techniques that are relevant to writers. I listen to the ProBlogger Podcast, The Creative Penn Podcast, The Sell More Books Show, The Book Marketing Show, and The Career Author podcast. Search for them on your smartphone’s podcast app or Google.
Read. A lot.
You can’t be a good writer if you don’t read. What would you think about a chef who doesn’t eat at restaurants? Or a movie producer who doesn’t watch movies? Or a personal trainer who doesn’t work out? Don’t be a hypocritical writer, which leads me to the next point…
Only write what you would want to read yourself.
If you don’t read romance novels, don’t try to write romance novels. If you enjoy reading biographies of sports players, then write biographies of sports players. If you wish there was a book about how to travel Europe for a month for less than a thousand dollars, find out how to do it and write about it. There are over seven billion people on the planet, and you’re not as unique as you think you are. If you want to read a book about an obscure topic, there are probably at least a million other people out there who also want to read that book. And because you are interested in the topic, you would have a lot of fun writing the book.
Schedule time every day to do nothing but write.
Defend your scheduled writing time as if it were a mandatory work meeting (you might get fired if you miss it). During your scheduled time, don’t do “writing-related tasks.” Do actual writing.
Start with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
It is by far the most popular e-book publishing platform. Become successful there first. Once you become proficient at publishing on KDP, then you can explore other platforms like Kobo, Apple iBooks, or Google Play Books.
I could go on in detail about how to self-publish your first book, but you may or may not care. Maybe I’ll explain the entire process in a future issue if there is enough interest. Or maybe I should write a book about it. If you’re interested in self-publishing books, here are some places you can start.