Not so long ago, if someone wanted to be a famous writer—or forget fame—publish even an unsuccessful novel—it was not the most attainable goal. Not impossible, obviously, but by no means easy. I used to dream about it when I was a kid, but for me I believed the idea of publishing was somewhere in line with winning the lottery. But it’s different now. The internet has changed the world. Anyone with the dream of publishing can now pursue it.
But hold your hooray and applause just for a moment.
The hard part is no longer publishing. The hard part is making a living off your writing. Because although you can publish, you have to be so much more than a great writer. You really need to be an entrepreneur. This is nothing new. I am pretty sure every self-published author has figured this out by now. I never really thought about it much when I made the conscious decision to become an author—not until I finished the first draft of my book a few months ago.
The scary part is just now beginning for me. I am almost afraid to finish the rounds of revisions with my editor, because that means I have to begin the REALLY HARD part. Marketing. I absolutely hate selling. Okay, pause—I’m pretty good at it, actually. I worked at a jewelry company during college, and I was great (not to toot my own horn) . . . but that is different. People came to me because they WANTED to buy jewelry, I just had to close the deal. If I had to go out and actively seek people to buy jewelry, that would be a whole other ballgame. So, will this prove a challenge for me when it comes to marketing my book? I don’t know, and I am kind of nervous to find out. I don’t see myself blitzing people with ads or auto Twitter emails (nothing against people who do), but that is SO not me.
So, what do I do? How do I make a name for myself? I’ve read a lot of books about the topic and many blogs, but I am still sort of scratching my head and wondering if I’ll be able to play the marketing game. I wonder how people really make a name for themselves in this world nowadays. I have to believe it is more than just who you know (or how you run your Twitter account). BTW- I didn’t even understand the concept of a #hashtag until a year ago!! But social media has changed the world. A LOT.
There is so much talent out there in the world. Musicians. Actors. Screenplay writers. I am sure there are singers out there who could knock us off our feet before lifting us up into the sky to soar to the sounds of their silky voices, but we may never hear from them, because they may not get “discovered.” Of course, social media has helped fuel the discovery of new musicians, which I am thankful for, but I know there is still a lot of untapped potential all around the globe that we may never encounter, which is a bit depressing. Although they have talent, they may not know how to market themselves—or might be shy to the idea of it (like me).
If I really want to reach my goals in life, I know I will have to fight for the chance to have my books emerge amongst the crowd of millions. I will have to bite the bullet (okay, don’t really get that expression—who would bite a bullet?!) . . . Basically, I need to learn to sell myself. To sell my work. I believe in it. I am investing in it. So, I need to have faith that if I give it my all, despite my nerves, anything can happen.
So, to all of the singers, actors, writers, athletes, guitarists, and the list goes on—to all of you, I hope your talent is discovered. I hope I get the chance to laugh or cry at your movie. To wave my hands back and forth in the sky at your concert. I hope I get the chance to stay up all night reading your book because I have to know what happens at the end . . . .
To every person with a dream, please don’t give up, even if it is hard or the thought of failing petrifies you. You have a world of people waiting for your talent. Somewhere there is a girl or boy with a dream, and you just might be the one who inspires them to pursue it.
When I read posts on things that a self-publisher needs to do to market themselves and their books I feel my stomach churn. I realize that is the game one must play these days–especially these days because everything seems to orbit around social media–but it still terrifies me.
Thanks for the response- it is a bit intimidating (at least for me!)
I’m with you here, Brittney. I feel awful just plugging my blog on Twitter, let alone potentially trying to sell a book in the future! There’s something about it that feels so… pushy. But it’s not, not really. We’ve got to earn a living, right? Twitter is great because you can engage directly with like-minded people through hashtags, and the same goes for blogs and forums. What’s wrong with that?
I suppose it’s the art of “selling without selling” that self-pubbers have to master. Talk to people, contribute to discussions, be funny, be friendly, be interested in others – do that enough, and someone will click on your profile, see you’ve written a book they’d be interested in, and buy it. Far easier said than done, though!
If you don’t mind me asking, why aren’t you interested in traditional publishing?
I am not opposed to traditional publishing, and I think maybe in the future that might be an option- but I hate giving away the rights to my book when I’ve heard the average shelf life is 6 weeks for new authors & you still have to market yourself (when new). I could be wrong about this though. What are you doing/or future plans?
You are off to a better start than many by having a blog that already has a lot of followers and that you update regularly. As Lucy above says: ‘selling without selling’ is a good way to go. If even 1% of your blog followers are intrigued enough to buy your book that’s a start. It seems to me that the first thirty days are critical (at least via KDP). If you can get a few downloads and hopefully reviews early on then that gives you a solid platform to build upon.
Thank you 🙂
You and I are in the same boat, I think, even though I’m planning on going the traditional route. Building your platform is crucial to book sales (both for self-publishing and traditional), but I definitely think you’re off to a good start by already having your blog.
I think more than half the battle of writing a book is marketing it once it’s finished! Best of luck to you, and if there’s anything I can do to help out, you know where to find me 🙂
Thanks Allison! Same to you!
Great post. I feel for you, having to figure out how to get your story in front of interested people. You mention twitter a lot, and I can’t stand twitter, but I follow a lot of authors on facebook. Some have author’s pages, some just have a normal profile. I like it because there is more of a dialogue with the authors I follow.
Yeah, I never went on Twitter until early this year. I am working on building an author’s page on facebook, amazon, and my own site. Thanks for reading and commenting!
And goodreads.com, right? I am in a group for Indie authors that is wonderful and helpful, and would give you someone to vent at about your marketing trials. It is called “support for indie authors”
Thank you! I will check that group out for sure!!
Just joined the group you recommended – thanks!
It is a great group. I really enjoy the discussion with people who want advice on their covers.
Even with traditional publishing you still run into this problem. I won a writing contest and my novel has now been published by a small publishing company. They have been wonderful working with me and trying to get word out and I have been working for months to try and publicize. The book has received excellent reviews, but it still hasn’t broken out. Why? Probably because I still haven’t learned how to market. I’m doing what I can on social media, but there are an awful lot of voices out there. I’m still trying to figure out how to make mine be heard over the rest. When you figure out how, share with us? Also, when you publish your book, let me know. I’ll see if there is anything I can do to help you out. We history teachers have to stick together.
Yeah, I heard that you really have to market yourself even with traditional unless you are already famous (sounds a bit unfair)- you would think the famous need less help than us newbies!! What is your book called? I will check it out. Be happy to help as well. And yes- would love to support a fellow history teacher/writer! 🙂
The book is called Pup (sometimes listed as Pup: A novel of accidental heroism). Amazon and iBooks both have samples you can check out to see if it’s your cup of tea. I’m working on a YA novel now. It doesn’t help that I have an odd shy streak to me. I’ll get in front of over a thousand people and make them laugh, but ask me to promote myself and I start to cower. I’m strange that way.
I downloaded the sample on ibooks earlier so I will check it out! I am the same about self promotion!
Pup is the book, right?