Recent years have seen a boom in self-publishing, courtesy of the internet. Writers are no longer forced to seek that elusive publishing deal in order to sell their books. However, this has a downside; just because it’s easy to publish a book does not guarantee that the book is worth reading! Carried away by the lure of seeing their work in “print”, many writers fall into these typical traps:
Most self-published authors are writing alongside their day job, or working on a very tight budget. They decide that they can’t afford to have the book proofread, or have a high-quality cover design made for them. So they ask a friend to check the book, or try to proofread it themselves. As for the cover design, scan through some of the self-published books online and you’ll see a common theme: generic photos and cheap-looking fonts. The design looks poor, and rushed; how will that attract readers?
Cutting corners will result in a poor-quality product. Your friends and relatives are not professional copy editors or proofreaders, and they won’t be able to spot the mistakes that a professional would. Readers will not be impressed if too many typos sneak through, or the book isn’t properly formatted. You want people to give you money, so make the book worth the expenditure for them. Get an expert at a company like Assignment Masters to proofread the book, and you’ll end up with a much more polished product.
Look in just about any category, and you’ll be faced with thousands upon thousands of self-published examples. Thrillers, romance, crime – they’re all very popular genres, so how will your book stand out? What will persuade a reader to choose your book over all the others in the same genre? Being generic isn’t just about the cover, but also the content.
Your book needs to have something that makes it appealing to a buyer. Perhaps a clever twist on an old theme, witty writing, an appealing main character, or an angle that hasn’t been covered before. There’s nothing wrong with genre writing. It’s popular with readers who like to know roughly what to expect. But you’re unlikely to sell in any quantity if you write yet another crime novel, or try too hard to imitate a best-selling author.
Not doing enough promotion
Once you’ve published your book on an online platform, you might think that the hard work is over and done with. Not so. The vast quantity of e-books on Amazon and other platforms means that you need to do a hell of a lot of promotion to get yours out there and persuade anyone to buy it. Social media is a great resource for the self-published writer; you should set up accounts on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Build up a rapport with your readership; see Tom Cox’s MYSADCAT Twitter profile for a wonderful example of how to use social media.
Being a copycat
Of course it’s tempting to try to copy the style of a best-selling author. Many would-be writers have this thought in the back of their mind: if it works for Dan Brown, Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, then it’ll work for me. But who needs another Dan Brown when one already exists? Why would anyone buy a book by a cut-price King when the real one is still selling by the truckload? And another book about a young wizard will just seem tired and unoriginal. These authors have a loyal readership, so don’t try to compete.
Getting the pricing wrong
Pricing is a tricky thing to get right. You don’t want to feel like you’re giving your book away, especially when you will only earn a small percentage of the retail price. However, the general advice for new writers is to set a low price. You are an unknown quantity to the book-buying public, and they’ll be more inclined to take a chance on a new writer if it’s only going to cost them a few pounds or dollars. An exception is if you’re writing on a very niche subject and there isn’t much competition.
It often pays to start selling your book at a low price; once you have achieved some sales you can increase the cost. An initial “special offer” can also encourage people to buy the book quickly. Offering the book for free for a limited time can also be a useful strategy. However, price your book too high and sales are likely to be scarce.
There is no guaranteed route to success and sales for a self-published author, and it should be remembered that you’re effectively going it alone, without the backup and marketing department that traditional publishers offer. Nevertheless, the advent of e-books has opened up considerable possibilities in the form of self-publishing. Be industrious, add an original slant, and market your book well – and you could make a decent living from your books.
William Grigsby is a freelance writer. He can write and research in a wide variety of industries but focused on Book Marketing. Day worker, night writer. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @willgrgsb