Many writers have stories to tell, but they don’t want to deal with publishing or marketing their work. That was me roughly three years ago. What changed? Well, I decided that I had to get my world and its characters to as many willing readers as possible.
(See the excerpt at the end of this post if you’d prefer not to watch the video.)
Imagine if someone held a gun to your head and asked what you really wanted to do with your life. My answer would be writing; if you’ve read this far, your answer is likely the same. Were you in Raymond K. Hessel’s shoes, you’d find a way to write for a living (or die trying).
I’m not a self-publishing guru or an accomplished writer, but I have put myself in Raymond K. Hessel’s shoes and used my research skills to learn before I leap. Before Tyler Durden hunts you down, use these seven ways to increase your chances of self-publishing success:
- Master Your Craft and Write Wonderful Books
- Make Sure Your Book has a Beautiful Cover
- Make a Simple Author Website
- Get Readers to Connect with You
- Attract Readers with a Book Funnel
- Build Strong Relationships with Readers
- Network and Boost Your Sales
This post series aims to set you up for self-publishing success.
The first installment, “How to Master Your Craft and Write Wonderful Books,” covers Kurt Vonnegut’s The Shapes of Stories and extrapolates the meaning (and beauty) of story data analyzed in a recent EPJ Data Science article. With Vonnegut’s six basic story shapes in mind, we look at the three-act structure in terms of the stages of grief. With the three-act structure in place, we then explore methods – namely Shawn Coyne’s The Story Grid and Adron Smitley’s Punching Babies (that is, how to make writing novels easier than punching babies) – to help us examine our stories to see if they have the self-similar structure characteristic of great books; this section contains sample outlines to help you do your own manuscript analysis. There’s also an addendum with some resources to help you revise your work and an annotated bibliography for further reading. [Read more…]
The second installment, “How to Make Sure Your Book has a Beautiful Cover,” explores book cover design. Even if you’ve hired a designer, this post will teach you design principles that every book cover needs so that you can determine whether or not your designer needs to edit their design. If you’re designing your own cover, this post will give you some pointers on how to make a beautiful book cover.
The third installment, “How to Make a Simple Author Website,” covers the essentials that every author website needs and provides a sample free WordPress author website example. From press kits to book pages, this post provides a succinct overview of what an author website needs. This post also discusses the importance of integrating a landing page to get readers to subscribe to your email list, the importance of which is covered in more detail in the fourth installment of this series.
The fourth installment, “How to Get Readers to Connect with You,” discusses the importance of building an email list and social media presence. An email list is a direct line of communication between you and your readers. It is extremely important to build your email list. Social media is important, but when it comes to sales, you’ll likely get 10 times more sales from your email list than you will from broadcasting an ad through social media.
The fifth installment, “How to Attract Readers with a Book Funnel,” discusses how to build an audience for your work by leveraging free work on distributors like Amazon, Kobo, etc. This post also discusses ad methods for leveraging space at the beginning and end of your free book to get readers to visit your website, subscribe to your email list, and purchase your other books.
The six installment, “How to Build Strong Relationships with Readers,” discusses ways to provide your audience and email subscribers with something of value to garner good will (and, hopefully, sales). Here, we discuss the importance of offering something of value for free to get readers to subscribe to your email list; this post also discusses giveaways and other promotional strategies to facilitate organic sales.
The seventh and final installment, “How to Network and Boost Your Sales,” covers advertising and networking with other authors in your genre to boost your visibility. This post covers advertising more generally – Facebook, Twitter, etc. It also discusses ways you can network with other authors to improve everyone’s sales with group bundles and the like.
Excerpt from Video
Tyler rummages through his wallet and says, “An expired community college student ID. What did you study, Raymond?”
“I don’t know.”
“What did you wanna be, Raymond K. Hessel? The question, RAYMOND! Was What did you want to be?”…
“… That means you have to get more schooling.”
“Too much school.”
“Would you rather be dead? Would you rather die? Here, on your knees in the back of a convenience store?”
“No, please no!”
Tyler lowers his gun down, takes out Raymond’s driver’s license, and throws the wallet in front of him.
“I’m keeping your license. I’m gonna check in on you. I know where you live. If you’re not on your way to becoming a veterinarian in six weeks, you will be dead. Now run on home.”
Raymond takes his wallet and runs off into the night.