I have a few lessons I wish to share to all who are trying to make it onto bookshelves, and for those who recently have. Here are a few in no particular order:
1. Don’t assume everyone has done their job correctly.
2. Research prospective independent publishers and interview ones you like.
3. Marketing is mandatory.
4. Believe in yourself and your writing.
5. Follow your favorite (living) authors’ blogs.
6. Use Google.
7. Build a support system to get you through those rough days.
Now to elaborate…
Today I learned a lesson that almost cost me $150 bucks. For one comma that vanished to I wish I knew where. I’m working with two different Indy publishers at the moment, one for the eBook and one for paperback version. My eBook publisher has been awesome, really on the ball. No complaints whatsoever. My other one? Churns out beautiful stuff but then I gave what he submitted to me for my approval a green light to send to printers after assuming everything is correct.
Everything was NOT correct. The wrong draft of my prologue was printed with everything else. And there’s a missing comma and period on the back of the jacket. Despite all this, there’s a silver lining: my books are print-on-demand. A revision will be sent to the printing people and all will be well.
Lessons taken from this: just because I emailed the fixes to be done, doesn’t mean they were done, and just pick up the damn phone. Not everyone is as detail-oriented as myself. That and said paperback publisher communicates exponentially better via phone. I prefer to communicate via email. Oh, well. That’s just too bad for me if I want my paperback done right.
Research prospective independent publishers and interview them
There are a ton of them out there, and there are a ton who are just trying to scam writers who are desperate to see their hard work published. Not sure where to find Indy publishers? Look inside your latest eBook that’s priced five bucks or lower. It’ll tell you who their publisher is. Or if you find them on Google, look up they books they’ve published and check how well they’re selling on amazon. A book is in the green if it’s broken the 10k mark.
Getting to know an Indy publisher is like agent hunting, but you’re the agent and they’re the ones hoping to do business with you. Pick a publisher that knows how to work your genre. My paperback publisher doesn’t really know my genre but, thankfully, my eBook one does, so I’ve been able to salvage my less than ideal situation. I also had to fire my first ePublisher because he wasn’t a good fit. Thankfully I didn’t pay anything up front with him so it was a tiny inconvenience. Also, avoid upfront fees if you can. In most cases those demanding money up front are scammers. Research with your pal Google and check the viability of your sources!
Marketing is mandatory
I hate marketing, yet this is the pivot point where a book either sinks or sells. If you make it available to purchase but don’t do anything to get the word out, it will not sell. Unless you have thousands of cool friends, don’t rely on Facebook to be your only outlet, nor just a blog. You need real marketing muscle and people who know how to work what you’re selling. As I’ve been trying to spread the word about my book, I’ve begun to understand why agents don’t want to represent you unless you’re basically already famous (a.k.a. have a platform).
Follow your favorite (living) authors’ blogs & use Google
They are successful people in the know. Follow in the footsteps of success. Don’t pepper them with questions you can answer yourself with the help of Google and such. Instead, send them fan mail. Don’t spend money on self-publishing books. All the information you could possibly need is free (I’m finally following this bit of advice myself).
Believe in yourself and your writing & build a support system to get you through rough days
This is a bit of a duh, but easily overlooked. I’ve overlooked it for cryin’ out loud. Making it in the literary industry requires a mind-boggling amount of work. Don’t do it alone. Expect moments of delusions of grandeur, expect people to give you stupid advice and discouragement, but expect yourself to persevere. Know why you write. Write every day you can, and give your brain a break when it needs to recharge. And don’t write in another room while cooking. You will burn shit.
Marketing venues I’m testing once my paperback is fixed:
newspapers and magazines
Indy publisher contests
Here are two blog posts I high recommend taking a moment to read. They’re from two successful authors:
http://catherineryanhoward.com (this person has links to so much advice you should Google)