My Self-Publishing Journey: The Book is Out. Now What?

My first book from Castle Rock Publishing, LIGHTBRINGER, is out now in digital formats and in print. I’m pretty happy with the results, but having the book available isn’t the end of the self-publishing journey. Like many traditionally published authors, and all indie authors, my next job is helping readers find my book.

One of the arguments against self-publishing that comes up again and again is How will your work stand out amidst all the crap?Β  Joe Konrath has addressed this. So has Mike Stackpole and Dean Wesley Smith. All of them feel it’s not a new issue. Books have always had to compete for the readers’ attention. Some of them were good, and some less so, but despite the thousands of books in stores and libraries, readers still found books they wanted to read.

The difference now is that in an online environment, it’s a little harder for a new book to catch a reader’s wandering eye. Amazon and Barnes & Noble have their secret formulas for making recommendations, but we can’t count on benefiting from them. So what should a new writer who has no following do?

Konrath, Smith, and Stackpole all recommend that producing good work is an author’s best bet for success. Good work will generate good word of mouth, and word of mouth leads to sales.

That’s great advice. But how do we get those first people to start talking?

I’ve done what I can to produce a professional product that people will want to recommend to their friends: I started with a good story, got professional editing, professional cover art, professional formatting. Here’s what I’m doing to let people know that it’s out there, so they can find it and talk about it.

  • I’m blogging regularly. (Thanks for reading!)
  • I make occasional public appearances. I speak at my local RWA chapter and at conventions.
  • I’m soliciting reviews from blog sites and from readers. (Possibly the most effective thing I’m trying.)
  • I’m giving (some) books away. I think it’s great when people say they passed the book around. This is like preparing the ground for the next crop.
  • I’m writing the next book. Without a new release, what will my new fans buy next?

What I’m not doing is spending a lot of money on advertising. As a new business I have to spend my time and money where it will do the most good, and I don’t think paid advertising is cost effective at this stage.

I’m also not planning to do any of the price manipulations that other authors have done to boost ranking, at least not now. I am considering putting up some short stories as enticements for readers to take a chance on my work. I’ll keep you updated on that.

It takes time to build a brand. It takes time to build a new business. Some authors do well right out of the gate and others take months to build their sales.Β  I’m impatient, and I struggle to remember that it’s way too early to evaluate my progress. I need to collect a lot more data before I can decide if I need to make a course correction.

So my advice? Try to be patient, get reviews, and keep writing. When your fans are clamoring for your next book you’ll be glad you did.

18 Comments

Filed under Publishing

18 responses to “My Self-Publishing Journey: The Book is Out. Now What?

  1. Congrats, Frankie! Good advice in this post. Thanks. I don’t plan to self publish any time soon, but you never know when it will come in handy!

  2. Frankie, you’re spot on with this piece re: the proper way to start your selfpubber career. You’re firing on all cylinders and understand the essence of what leads to success in indie publishing … steady and sure wins the race! Continued success, brutha!

  3. All sounds very sound to me. Congrats and good luck.

  4. All wonderful suggestions! Many thanks!!

    • You’re welcome, Mary! The difficult part will be measuring the effectiveness of various self-promotion techniques. Sometimes the results are distant in time from the cause. For example, you might give away four books, but they aren’t read right away. When they are, the reader recommends you to her friends. Two of them buy copies and the cycle continues. But you never know if the readers found you because of the books you gave away or some other way.

  5. First, if you haven’t done so already, you must write a good press release and gert it out, approx $250 to a target audience (you select). Now the hard part: You’ll have to sell your book (yourself). Make presentations to book clubs, go to book fairs, call radio stations. And you thought writing the book was the hard part…. Good luck!

    • Michael, I agree that having information available for the media is a good idea. I know authors who have media pages on their websites. I think targeting my audience is also a good idea. I’m not sure that a “press release” per se is the best way to proceed however. I think that may be more effective for non-fiction books than for fiction. I will keep it in mind however.

  6. I’d agree…what has sold the most books for me is people finding out I have more books. Better than all the money I could spend on advertising.

  7. Great summation of what it takes to be a successful professional writer. It takes years of hard work to become an overnight success, but with your clear vision and steady perseverance, you should succeed. Good luck to you.

    • Thanks, Kilian! I hope the future proves the truth in that! πŸ™‚

      Our guest of honor at TusCon, Patricia Briggs, commented that she’d been writing and publishing for years before she started the Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series and jumped up to the next level of success. Most self-pubbed authors who are doing well have several books out. I hope that will prove true for me as well.

  8. Leah St. James

    Great post! I just launched a novella and am facing the same challenges. (I’m impatient, too!) Great advice. Wishing you much success!

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