The Self-Published Novice: My take after 12 months.

Author Stephen E. Dew
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Self-Publishing take after 12 months.

The idea of controlling your own destiny using self-publish sounds like a great idea. In fact, it probably is, but it’s no easy job. The frustration, confusion, understanding, and the lack of time to do everything you want all contributes to a roller coaster ride. I have self-published 5 books now in 2 different genres, Fantasy and ESL Writing, which have yet to really take off. I continually ask myself, “What do I have to do to get them moving?” I believe, as does every other self-published author, that there is no silver bullet to self-publishing. It has become clear to me, whilst it takes time and a lot of work, writing a good book is not that difficult if you follow the process for self-publishing on Createspace and Kindle among others like Lulu and Smashwords. Writing is not that difficult, finding people to create covers, edit, and review is not so difficult either. What is difficult is connecting readers to your work. It has become painfully clear to me that the most important element to self-publishing is market your book. This is something I have yet to master, but I believe this is the secret to better book sales and a passive income.

Amazon has traditionally been the place to self-market, so I tried using Lulu for one of my books, but I found the traffic and sales to be nothing compared to Amazon. My monthly sales all came Amazon, so as much as I would like to self-publish my books on other platforms, Amazon really is the place for sales when Self Publishing, at the present! If your book has a high-ranking, Amazon will market it, and you will generate revenue.

My Limited Marketing Experiences.

Marketing is tough! There many articles and blog posts telling you to “create a following” and “get your book in front of people.” These people and posts tell you what to do, but they never tell you how to do it.

My marketing strategies to date have included:

1. My own Author website which is dedicated to my book series. I have established the website to connect with readers and try to build a fan base, so to speak. The big issue is traffic, and blog Posts will generate traffic to your website. It’s a great way to add value to your site. Another way is to blog on sites as a guest blogger. I have also used articles and paid link building strategies.

My take, learn SEO and use it. In addition, search and find blog sites that add value to your promotional strategies and connect to your readers.

2. Social media (Facebook Twitter, Google +, Reddit, Pinterest, and few other) are great ways to show off your book and work. You must be able to connect to the people who have an interest in your genre. I created an author Facebook page, Twitter account, and a Google Plus page.Social media is one of those evil necessities! It’s a is a great way to show your book, however, you must target your book to the right people (know your audience), and you mustn’t become one of those spammers. One huge problem is managing the number of groups in all these social media.

My take, join many like-minded groups, and find an auto poster and set up messages to connect to your readers.

3. Free book promos are also a great way to get visibility. In fact, if done correctly you can get thousands of downloads, which ultimately Amazon notices, and then plugs you book even more. To date, my best free promo was about 100 downloads over 5 days. Not really that good to have an impact on sales. I need to understand more about promoting my book to number one in my chosen category to get Amazon to notice it when the promo finishes.

My take,  Learn tips and tricks to get as many downloads as possible during a free promo to take that coveted no.1 position in your chosen category.

4. Press releases are another marketing ploy I have tried. Both paid and free press release sites have been used. This is one area that I haven’t had any visibility to judge how successful this strategy is. My research tells me it’s very difficult to get these journalists to pick up your release, but marketers insist this is a great way to promote your book.

My take, although there are strict rules for press releases, I’ll keep using them as them because they wont do any harm, and it may result in more exposure.

5. Paid promotional services are an alternative source of visibility. So many sites offer advertisements, book tours, social media spots, and even reviews. I find these rather expensive, but necessary. Finding the right sites is a problem though. Understanding NLP language will definitely help when setting up posts and advertisements.

My take, I have yet to find a site that really delivers traffic to my books, and I have yet to really master the idea NLP advertising.

6. Soliciting reviews is definitely a painful job. It’s one of those strategies that must be executed with finesse. I have used Facebook, groups such as Goodreads, and even mailed top Amazon reviewers with limited success. Joining groups such as Goodreads, Smashwords, and other on-line book forums to connect with readers and authors helps set you up as an authority, and helps promote you and your book. It develops your brand which is must when trying to connect the market to you and your book.

My take, without reviews, you success will be limited. An emphasis should be place on gaining honest and reliable verified reviews.

I have mentioned “my take” a few times . It may not be every bodies thoughts, but after self-reflection over the past 12 months, I still clearly have many skills to develop and learn. My belief is now to connect to your readers and learn more about gaining exposure for your “brand.” Obviously these strategies are but a few, so my next research project is what are the different and diverse marketing strategies that can be employed to build reputation with readers to make a residual income.

In my humble opinion, self-publishing is a great opportunity. It is one of several opportunities that can generate revenue with a residual income. Nobody has said it was easy. Some people have said it’s a waste of time because only the top sellers ever really make money. However, my research shows as business model, self-publishing and Kindle are easy to start, have low marketing costs, can give instant authority status, and have potential for growth of residual income.

Figures being bantered around by success internet marketer, Peter Garetty, say the Kindle self-publishing business model needs anywhere from $850 to $1450 per book to have some chance at becoming successful.

Remember, none of this will come true unless you:

  • actually develop a business model and plan.
  • understand there is no secret formula.
  • have a great book, and then write many more.
  • realize that Amazon is the place to be for now!
  • connect to readers.
  • learn marketing from A-Z.
  • learn SEO to drive traffic!

 

Author Stephen E. DewTo summarize, self-publishing is not for everyone. I have enjoyed the challenge and limited success to date. I keep reminding myself not to get caught up in the gold-rush mentality, but work harder and work smarter. In addition, I will stick with my strategy and review it every 6 months, spend money in line with my business model (ensuring the costs are recoverable within 3 months of publishing), and most of all market to connect to readers who want to buy my work because it adds value for them.

Stephen E. Dew (aka Mealea Mathews) is a TESOL instructor who is the self published author of the “Academic Writing Skills” series for ESL students and “The King’s Throne” fantasy series.



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