An Introduction to Self-Publishing

You’re writing a book! Congrats! Or maybe you’ve already finished your book and now you’re thinking, “What’s next?”

In the old days you would seek an agent, who would pitch you to publishers, and you might get a publishing contract. You’d earn some money – maybe even a lot – and then your book would be published in a year and you wouldn’t really have to do much else. You could take it easy. Go on vacation. Write another book.

These days, that whole process is a myth.

Sure there are still agents and publishers, but they are increasingly risk adverse. It’s not about the book anymore. Because even a GREAT book doesn’t guarantee sales, and nobody wants to spend $10,000 publishing a book that nobody buys.

To lessen their risks, agents and publishers mostly sign established authors with their own platforms.

That means, you need a blog; you need some previous bestselling books; you need contacts with other authors in you genre; you need a Facebook page with 50,000 likes. If you’re coming to the table with nothing but your book, you’re fighting a huge uphill battle.

It’s still possible… but is it worth it?

You can probably get a contract from a small  press and a little advance (around $5000, if you’re lucky).

But as a small company, they won’t have the resources to make a brilliantly designed book or market it well.

Book marketing is changing quickly and you mostly need to use guerrilla marketing strategies that publishers simply aren’t capable of handling.

You need an author platform, but it has to be authentic and genuine.

You need to blog about articles that attract your ideal readers.

And then there’s all the other stuff; formatting your book for mobi and epub; getting print layout done in Word or InDesign – not to mention the book cover design itself which is crucial for managing reader expectation.

And there are so many options these days! Should you sign with Amazon KDP Select, or use Smashwords or Draft2Digital or Ebookbaby?

Should you use Createspace for print on demand or Ingram Spark?

There are arguments for and against every possible choice. Getting started can be tough. There’s a steep learning curve.

This site – www.publishxpress.com – is just one of my I’ve set up to help indie authors publish better quality books, faster than ever, and market them well. I’ll use it to keep sharing resources I find, tools I recommend, or marketing hacks that I’ve used to rule the bestseller lists.

So browse around; use the free ebook making tools I’ve put up or read the articles I’ve posted. If you have questions, get in touch – I’m not hard to find.

 

Guerrilla Publishing (book marketing hacks to get more visibility)

For the past ten years I’ve been helping authors publish and market their books. First I figured out how to build an outline platform. Then I learned book design and formatting, setting up an author website, positioning your book to sell on Amazon or other ebook retailers, and getting enough visibility for people to buy it. Usually when I coach clients, I’ll want them to set up everything the right way, because it all helps a little bit. There are so many variables in an author platform, and if you do something wrong you could be losing 80% of your traffic without ever knowing why. You need to plug the leaks before you start marketing your books, or you’ll be throwing money away. However, most authors aren’t equipped to do everything right on their own; and many authors can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars paying an expert to do it for them.

The result is that the majority of authors have haphazard, mostly amateurish, confusing online presences which do next to nothing to sell their books. This is evidenced by the common experience of frustration many authors share when, after all their hard work, their book isn’t selling. Anywhere.

It’s easy to become invisible online, and difficult to stay on top of the bestseller lists where your books can actually get seen. That’s why, when I started publishing my own fiction this year, I wanted to build a stable online presence that brings in my ideal readers on autopilot. However, the better I got at book marketing and launching a new title, the more I realized exactly what elements were crucial to the success of a book, and what elements are superfluous.

Since one of the common complains I hear from authors is that they hate spending time marketing their books when they want to be writing, I’m writing a new book called “Guerrilla Publishing.” In it, I’ll focus on the 5% of book marketing “hacks” I’ve been using this year to make my books bestsellers with very little time or money spent.

guerrilla publishing and marketing

Because the truth is, you can launch a bestseller without being on social media, without advertising and promotion, without an author website, and still be successful. As long as you know how to use a few tools really well (better than everyone else). The easiest way to fail is to try to do everything you hear – every new gadget and strategy and platform. That’s the shotgun approach to marketing, or the “shot in the dark.” It’s basically, “I have no idea what I’m doing, and nothing is working anyway, so I might as well try everything.”

The purpose of this book is for you to avoid ever feeling like what you’re doing isn’t working, by providing simple, actionable, measurable steps to publishing a high quality book quickly, and doing only as much marketing as is necessary to launch your book professionally, and keep it selling enough to support you while you write another.

For updates on this book (and the companion course I’ll be launching soon), you should sign up on my main email list at www.creativindie.com

Writing and marketing young adult fiction

 

I started publishing my first young adult fiction last year, with no platform.

Since then, I’ve gotten about 500 reviews, built my email list to almost 25,000.

I’ve been mostly using permafree strategies to reach readers, so I haven’t earned much money yet – but I have been building up my platform so that I can earn money on the other books in my series. This month I put Shearwater, my YA mermaid romance up for preorder on Amazon. Without promotion, it’s already #1 in several categories. I also changed Scarlet Thread, my dark fantasy romance based on Greek mythology, from permafree to 99cents. With some category fixes, it’s already showing the orange bestseller sticker.

I’m going to be talking more about how I market young adult fiction on my main blog, www.creativindie.com, so you can follow along if you want to see how things work “in action”.

Specifically, after you’ve made the ebook and put it up for sale, how do you get more book reviews? How do you connect with readers? And how in god’s name do you seize the holy grail of publishing – making your book “sticky” so it keeps showing up in Amazon search results and sells on autopilot. These are the things I’ve investigated this year. I’m publishing a lot of books, at least 10 fiction and 10 non-fiction, so I can test out everything under the sun.

The main strategies I’m using, (which you can see in this post – notice how I’ve used anchor text to link to my books on amazon) is to build content and relationships so that people link back to my site and it shows  up high in natural search results. Few authors are focusing on Google results or SEO like they should be (most “SEO for author” type articles are rubbish, only focused on the bare basics of using SEO in WordPress.)

Your personal author website is never going to rank for competitive keywords, especially if you don’t post much content. That’s why I also made a community site for YA book reviews. YA authors can use it to build traffic and visibility on their own blogs (just like I’m doing with mine). If you’re a YA author, you should also join the Alliance for YA authors.

 

Ebook Formatting

I put this site together, most for ebook formatting and book marketing tips, but I have so many other sites this one is superfluous. I have guides and book formatting templates at www.diybookformats.com, but there are a few free ebook formatting tools I’ll leave on this site for now that I think will be useful.

You can check those out or visit my other sites for help on just about every aspect of self-publishing.

Need an eBook Landing Page?

I’ve done a lot of research on author websites, and this is what I’ve discovered:

1. Unless you’re a designer AND a coder, it’s difficult to pull off a very complex, graphic heavy author website.

2. Those sites load slow anyway. So it’s always better to use something minimal and white.

However there are still some choices to make.

I say you need to focus on getting readers to take the action you want by removing choices, and making your optin offer easy to find, and writing content that attracts the right readers: and I’m not wrong – I build sites assuming you want to attract natural traffic; content rich sites.

However if you’re driving traffic directly to your site yourself, through social media or advertising, and are already getting enough traffic, then you may be thinking about boosting your conversions, and for that you need a landing page.

A landing page is basically a very simple pitch with one option: sign up HERE to get a free book (or whatever). If readers really don’t want the offer, they can probably go look at something else on your site, but you don’t want to make it easy for them, because having a bunch of traffic on your website is kind of useless if you can’t get them to go do anything.

A landing page is different from a whole blog and you can test things out and see what works for you. Getting people to sign up to your list gives you control and the power to contact them when you have a book launch – and also lets you build a relationship with them through ‘drip content.’

For a big list of author websites you can check out this post of 99 themes I added to Creativindie.