E-books, self-publishing and traditional publishing have been topics I’ve touched on a lot on my blog. I think as a writer who is “waiting” to get published, I’ve slightly become obsessed with hearing about experiences from other writers of how they got published, whether if it’s through a traditional publisher or not. I guess part of why I am so curious is because I am trying to decide which route to take, once my first novel is edited and ready.
If you’ve written a story and queried a few agents, got signed and not long after, got published—congratulations.
But if you are one of those who have been rejected many times, but still have stories brewing in your heads and you still keep writing books, I say, don’t ever give up. You are a writer and you will get published.
I’m sure you’ve all heard about the e-book millionaire, Amanda Hocking. What I find so inspiring about Amanda’s success story is the fact that despite being rejected by many publishers she didn’t give up. She almost did. But something inside of her told her that she had to try again. Good for her. Now she has a huge following and her stories are read all over the world, and she is only in her mid-twenties. During one of her interviews, she mentioned that she told herself she would get published by the time she was 26, and she was right. But it’s not about getting published at 26. It’s more about setting a goal and owning it. She set a goal, owned it and believed in it, and she succeeded. She didn’t let the agents and publishers decide her fate as a writer.
So how did she do it? Why are her stories selling so well, despite what publishers thought, and why are other e-books not as successful?
This is what I think: Amanda captured a huge audience the moment she published her first book and she sold them at the lowest price, knowing that she would write trilogies. She knew that charging less for the first one of each series would encourage the reader to buy it and decide whether or not they’d want to pay more and keep reading the rest of the stories. Turns out, they liked it so much that they continued buying her books. They wanted more, so she wrote more and she just kept going.
But not all genres can have trilogies and not all genres have an audience as big as hers.
No problem. We’re not all trying to be like Amanda Hocking. But we do want to be successful in whatever genre we write. So what do we do to have successful e-books?
Based on the things I’ve learned recently, especially from the workshop I attended a few weeks ago, here are a few things to consider before self-publishing:
- Don’t rush. If your book is not ready, don’t publish it.
- Edit, edit, edit before publishing.
- No matter what, unless you’re a Graphic Designer, DO NOT design your own book cover. Unfortunately, people do judge a book by its cover, and if it doesn’t look professional, they may not buy it.
- Advertise 6 months before publishing.
- Self-publishing means you do all the work. Advertising is part of your job.
- Make sure you have a platform. Knowing that you have followers before you publish helps you sell your books later.
- Even though self-publishing means you do all the work, you can still ask for help or hire professionals to help you edit your work, design your book cover, etcetera. Remember, this book represents you.
- Know your audience and market to them.
- Keep writing. Write and publish a book every year. You want your readers to keep buying and supporting your books.
It’s a good feeling to know that getting published no longer means it’s only up to “them”. With the options we now have out there—it’s really up to us to decide when we get published.
Best of luck.