Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 2

The Next Step

After deciding how many books I want to write and publish, the next step in the publishing journey is promoting my first book. This step is one for writers in groups #3 and #4 as discussed in Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 1: writers who want to publish three or more books.

Wait. What do you mean? Promote my first book? I haven’t even written it yet. Or at least it’s not finished. I don’t know how to publish it. Why would I promote a book that isn’t ready for readers?

Why indeed.

Promoting My First Book

This is the advice I’d give to myself if I was just getting started in the publishing business. I need to start building interest in that book now. I need to start presenting myself as a writer now. I need readers to learn about me now.

So when my book is ready to publish and I hit that PUBLISH NOW button, I have at least a small following and my book has been seen by several thousand sets of eyes.

How Do I Promote a Book I Haven’t Finished Writing?

Easy. Talk about it.

Did you know, I’m writing a dystopian novel? It’s called Seeds of Life.

Phew! That was easier than I had thought. Who did I tell? Well, I first told my sister. She was impressed I was writing a book since I had flunked Grade 11 English. Then I told my neighbour – two people know I’m writing the book. They want to read it. Cool.

By the end of the week, I’ve told 30 people, and I’m eager to spread the news further. Oh, Facebook. I just posted the news to share with my “friends”. Here’s what I wrote: Hey, everyone. I’m writing a book, and I’m going to publish it. The title is Seeds of Life.

The girl I went to high school with commented: What’s it about?

Oh. Good question. How do I answer it?

Developing Your Elevator Pitch

This is when you start to develop what is called the Elevator Pitch. It’s describing your book in one sentence or two or three short sentences.

Answer: It’s about this girl who is born after the world is devastated. She’s kinda special because seeds, which are vital to life, are messed up, and she can fix them.

Thinks to myself: I’ve gotta work on that. I also gotta finish writing the book. I’ve only got 61,158 words written, and I’m aiming for 90,000 words.

Spreading the Word Further

In two weeks, I’ve told about 300 people I’m writing a book and publishing it but to sell lots of copies, I need to spread this news to the world. I could do it on Facebook, but I have only 226 friends, and only Aunt Pearl shared it. Wait. Aunt Pearl has 3,539 friends. I guess more people than I thought saw that I’m writing a book. Eek! I better get to finishing it.

To spread the word further, I need a platform. This is where promotion starts. It’s the stage where I promote my book to everyone in the world.

Next Week: Platforms: What are they and how do I create one?

Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 1

What is the First Step?

Using the information and experience I’ve gathered over the past 10 years of self-publishing and 23 years of writing professionally (Before I turned to fiction full time, I had a successful freelance business where I pitched non-fiction stories to magazines and newspapers), I’ve given careful thought about what my first step would be in the non-traditional, self-publishing world if I was starting the journey today. From this perspective, I’ll create this series of posts called Self-publishing from Scratch. It’s geared towards the writer who wants to publish their first book.

Step 1: How Many Books Will I Write?

This might be an odd question for some, but after thinking of many other questions, I kept backspacing and finished at this one. This question helps answer the ones that follow.

Each Writer is Unique

I’ve met a lot of writers over the past two decades. While we all love to write, we had different goals for our writing.

Writer Group #1

Some just wanted to write for personal reasons. They didn’t have the desire to see their stories in print. Others wanted to hold their book in their hand and share it with family and close friends.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these goals. Writing for them is self-satisfying. They don’t want to share with strangers, sell books or become a name in the business.

Writer Group #2

Some writers want to write one book. That’s it. They fall into the category of everyone has a book inside them, and that’s all they want to write. They want a few dozen copies to give to family and friends, and they think it’s cool to see it on Amazon’s website. They’re tickled pink to earn a few dollars to pay for their coffee once in awhile.

Writer Group #3

Some writers want to give it a shot, so they commit a few years, a few dollars and write a few books. Only half their heart is in it because, well, they like reading, but they don’t know if they like writing lots of books. They’ll be happy to sell a few, happier if they sell a million with little effort.

Writer Group #4

Then there are the hard-core, addicted, won’t ever stop writing writers. They don’t care about discouraging comments made by family, friends or inner voices, how long it takes, or if sales aren’t as high as they expected them to be.

They’re going to write book after book until they fill their shelves with titles. They’re going to burn the midnight candle, spend birthday money on paperback proofs and ads, attend workshops and markets, read countless articles on how to successfully write a book and sell it, learn how to do all the things they can to build a book and save money, and spend every day writing to reach their word goal.

These hard-core writers have their own individual goals: writing x-amount of books a year, selling x-amount of books, becoming a famous author, winning awards, etc.

The Number of Books and Self-publishing

Writer Group #1

The writer who wants to write for personal reasons or the one who wants to hold their book in their hands and share with family and friends, need never know how to self-publish.

Writer Group #2

The writer who wants to write one book and sell it on a small scale doesn’t need to put forth much effort. They could create a webpage so the book has real estate on the Internet, and anyone looking for information on it and links to buy will find it. Obviously, sales will be low unless the subject is self-propelling.

Writers with one book who want to sell that book like crazy need to learn marketing. The basics of self-publishing will carry them through to get that book published. They won’t need to repeat the process, just sell what they have.

Writer Group #3

Writers dabbling in self-publishing with the goal to write a few books, let’s say three, to see if they can make money at it need to know the basics. However, since they are not planning to spend the next 20 years writing or make a career from it, they don’t have to learn as much as those in Writer Group #4.

Writer Group #4

These writers will write as many books as they can until life forces them out of the game. They aim to make this their career and are looking forward to the day they can quit their current job to become a full time writer. The more they learn, the better they’ll be.

This is the group I’m in.

Who is Self-publishing from Scratch directed at?

This blog series is directed at Writer Groups #3 and #4. I will assume you want to write more than one book, and I’ll direct the conversation in that direction. That includes discussing the basics of formatting, setting up a website, getting an ISBN, starting a company, networking and many other things I’ve done to not only publish books but promote them.

The best time to write that novel and self-publish it was 15 years ago. The second best time is today.