I have a few tabs open on my phone’s browser at all times–pages with some very basic advice I like to keep before me at all times. One of them is Mike Fishbein’s “How to Self-Publish a Bestseller.” I’ve discovered that there is no such thing as a sure thing. You can follow this guide exactly and you are still not likely to “sell over 400 books in 10 days.” However, it contains some very good, basic advice for indie authors and if you don’t have a written strategy for how to get your book into peoples’ hands other than airdropping them from your steam-powered dirigible at personal expense (ie. mass-giveaway due to your own independent wealth,) then this is a good structure to use as a starting point!
I based about 75% of my post on Fishbein’s advice and I’ll add a few points to his recommendations, but would start with this one: have a WRITTEN plan to fall back on. Just like I keep some tabs open until I’ve internalized every point, have something you will see frequently as a reminder and motivation to keep at it–it will seem impossible, otherwise. Q. How do you eat an elephant? A. One bite at a time.
#1, Understand how Amazon’s system works. It is a business and not a charity. If you want to succeed, know their metric for pitching sellable books to their visitors and operate within the guidelines.
#2, Make sure your book is up to snuff. For the love of God, hire an editor, beg a beta reader, and be open to rewriting. Don’t just “release a book into the wild.” Read my backblogs if you want to see me rant more about this. (This should go without saying… but I find the need to say it anyway).
#3, Have a good cover! We all judge books by their cover. Deal with it and understand that fact. Got it? Good, now go sell some blood and pay a cover designer for some artwork. Freeware covers are okay for some genres (poetry, Christian devo, etc.) and absolutely unforgiveable for others (fantasy, sci-fi, etc.)
#4, Have a good title. My nonfiction, Why Your Pastor Left, has hooked many people who intended to casually walk by a booksigning table. Have you ever looked at a sign and not read it? No! our brains don’t operate that way–take advantage of that automatic function. It’s a sharp hook, make sure it’s got a barb to hook your fish!
#5, Always be improving–this applies to your hooks/blurbs and descriptions at your online outlets. Feel free to go back and rewrite a product description if you think of a better wording.
#6, Get reviews! Beg if you have to. Without reviews nobody will buy your book. That is all. Either live by this and keep trying or put your head in the sand and fade away with more angst and frustration than the early 2000’s emo phase.
#7, Look at what others are doing for marketing. Mix it up with freebies, contests, etc. Don’t balk at paid services for promotion–instead find something that will fit into your budget (but expect to pay something, even if a low amount, if you want success here.) Make a marketing plan that includes some kind of budget.
#8, Build your platform! Want people to see/discover you? You will have to be everywhere–and that risks Bilbo Baggins syndrome (too little butter scraped across too much bread.) I made a plan and schedule for social media posts, blogs, etc. I’m not where I want to be, but I keep plugging away at it.
#9, Network with others. Don’t look at other authors as competition… they will be your biggest supporters and sources of advice, comfort, and catharsis. Be someone who supports others–that means you may need to be proactive in reaching out. Need a place to start? Click that follow button on my blog or leave a comment on a post of mine, interact with me on social media. I’m making myself available to be your first follow/connection. Shoot me a message, I almost always find time to respond.
#10, Start somewhere–you won’t be ready to sell 400 in ten days out of the gate, but maybe in a year after platform building you can achieve this. Take advice from others and keep working the system you’ve designed. You can do this… one blog at a time. One marketing attempt at a time. One tweet at a time. You don’t have to start at point #1–the writing craft is a lot less linear than outsiders realize. Pick a reasonable place to begin and start working your plan–just make sure you start.