Best Strategy for a Self-Published Author

The best strategy might be magic, but in case that isn’t your strong suit, start with understanding your motivation as an author. Family, Fame, or Fortune?

The basics for any author, traditional or self-published, are to self-market via personal appearances, social media, website, and newsletter and to create a quality product. The self-published author has the advantage of a community of other experienced self-published authors who are willing to share what they have learned.

The biggest mistake a self-publisher can make is to emulate the traditional publisher’s strategy. Traditional publishers may have the advantage of years of experience, but they can’t match the nimble responsiveness of the self-publisher.

The goals of Family, Fame, or Fortune have different strategies for the Author-Publisher.

FAMILY

If your author goal is to write and publish a single book or two for Family and Friends, then your overall marketing strategy is to focus on self-marketing through personal contacts. The self-published author has access to the publisher reports but reviewing and tracking sales and performance is optional.

FAME

If your author goal is Fame then your first step is to become famous as a politician or actor then become an author. As a celebrity, however, it’s unlikely you will be interested in self-publishing. But if you do become famous, would you please review one of my books? Thanks.

If you want to skip the first step and become a not-quite-that-famous author, define what you mean by famous. New York Times Best Selling Author? USA Today Best Selling Author?

The New York Times requires a book to be traditionally published, which releases the self-published author from the stress and angst of striving for the New York Times Best Seller list.

Hitting the USA Today Best Seller list is doable for a self-published author. It takes planning and money. Your book needs to be wide, and you need to understand promo stacking, PPC, CPC, and other marketing measurements. There are a number of well-written articles to guide you in your planning. As far as how much money, it depends on your planning. The advantage of being on the USA Today Best Seller list is that you can tout it always. You can splash USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR on all your books, social media, and website. Forever. There you go. Famous.

FORTUNE

If your author goal is Fortune, you are in a marathon, not a sprint, and a long-term strategy is your key. Think of yourself as not only a self-published author but also as an independent business. Establish a formal business and learn acceptable accounting practices. In addition to your author self-marketing, create a website for your publishing business. Map out a five-year plan and develop a method to measure your ROI.

The strategy for your first and second year is to plan a series and publish quality books. Know who your target reader is. After you have an established series, write and publish at least three quality books a year. Consider a second series to expand your target readers.

The second and third years, try different marketing methods and track the ROI. Drop those that are not net-profitable and repeat those that are. Wash, Rinse, Repeat!

The goal for your third year is to have a positive net income. Write and publish. Your books don’t necessarily have to be wide at first but begin going wide before the end of the third year with at least one series and adjust your marketing methods to accommodate being wide. Study best practices for going wide and develop your strategy. Develop and implement a plan for paperbacks.

The fourth year, write, publish, and follow your strategy. Continue testing different marketing methods and Wash, Rinse, Repeat. Your goal is an increase in net income in comparison to year three.

The goal for your fifth year is a higher net income than year four. Write and Publish. Revise your strategy for the next five years. Test marketing methods and Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

GOALS

Which goal is mine? I started off with Family then two years ago I shifted to Fortune, which means I am in Year Three with the goal of a positive net income. What about Fame? I’m a farmer. Outstanding in my field.

Which goal is yours?

Do You Love or Dread Editing?

Editing is the process that helps us move from seemingly random thoughts on a page to a polished, ready-to-publish novel. It’s time to toss the Dread and hug the Edit. The following eight editing steps are more or less in order even though authors loop back to earlier steps on occasion. Note that most authors prefer step 3A or 3B, not both. Let’s don’t go edit crazy, now!

1. Self Editing

It’s natural to edit as you go along. Typical self-editing corrects spelling, rewrites worrisome sentences, and makes changes to the plot direction.

PRO: You are available whenever you are writing. A quick edit of a previous page can give you the boost to continue forward.

CON: Good for a quick check, but you are too close to the writing to see very much. There is the trap of spending too much time on perfection to the detriment of any progress.

2. Friends and Family

Asking friends and family to read opens your reading world beyond yourself. You’re well on your way to being an Author. When friends and family offer, or accept your offer, to read what you have written, they bring fresh eyes to your document.

PRO: You’ll have someone else’s perspective. When you’re overcome by doubts, they are good for a dose of kindness.

CON: Their perspective is clouded by their relationship with you, and they may or may not have the time and skill to do more than read a little, and say “That’s good.” Their schedule may not allow them to meet your deadline needs.

3A. A Local Critique Group of Authors

If you’ve joined a local group of authors, the group may meet regularly to read and critique snippets of each other’s work.

PRO: You’ll have the less personal perspective of other writers on a portion of your writing. You will learn to accept criticism rather than argue or explain. You will develop a professional relationship with other authors.

CON: You may not be available for every group meeting. The writers have a variety of skills and experience, and you may receive erroneous advice. Not everyone in your group may be familiar with your genre. Because your reviewers are reading only a small snippet, the group may hone in on irrelevant points.

 3B. An Online Critique Group

An online critique group allows you to submit your writings for critique and in return, you critique others.

PRO: You work at home on your own schedule. You submit and reciprocate on your own schedule. The critiques tend to be grouped by genre. You will learn to accept criticism from a variety of people you don’t know and can’t see which is early training for reviews after you are published.

CON: The writers have a variety of skills, and you may receive erroneous advice. The group is fluid, and a reviewer with good ideas may no longer be available. The reviewers still read only a snippet at a time and may hone in on irrelevant corrections. However, the reader who told you he found seventeen adverbs in your submission is not necessarily a bad reviewer. True story.

4. First Draft Readers

A first draft reader is one who will read your writing for the story and tell you whether you have gone awry.

PRO: You select your first draft readers from your more skilled family members or an author from your group who understands your genre.

CON: First draft readers are hard to find. Readers sometimes get bogged down by commas and grammar when you need to know whether your characters are believable and your story is logical.

5. Draft Two (etc) Readers

Readers of subsequent drafts read the story with an eye for your characters and the story. If they see punctuation or grammar corrections, they will mention them.

PRO: More eyes; more perspectives. It’s recommended to use readers who have not read along in the development process of your writing.

CON: Additional readers are hard to find. Not everyone will be able to meet your schedule or your expectations.

6. Editing Software

Editing software reviews your writing for the mechanics: grammar, punctuation and writing style.

PRO: Your editing software will help you to see your weaknesses and correct them. Do you tend to overuse cliches? Your editing software will tell you. Passive verbs? Your editing software finds them. Software is time-saving because it finds areas for correction much quicker and with more accuracy than any other method.

CON: Editing software is not infallible. Sometimes it misinterprets or is wrong and sometimes it misses something critical. It’s a mistake to change anything just because the computer said so. Your own skill and research must be applied.

7. Professional Editor

A professional editor is critical before you release your writing to the outside world. Give your professional editor the most polished document you can. One that you have scrubbed to the best of your ability by using your writer/readers, draft readers, and editing software.

PRO: After your professional editor completes the edit, and you have made corrections, you are ready to publish.

CON: Professional Editors cost money.

PRO PLUS: Your editor is your secret weapon for success.

8. Release Your Final!

Now you are ready to query an agent, submit to a publisher, or self-publish!

 

Take a peek at my books that are available on Amazon. Judith A. Barrett Books

I have a monthly newsletter that gives readers notice about the current month’s FREE book and other news. Interested? Sign up!   Judith A. Barrett Newsletter

 

 

 

Create Your Author Identity in Six Steps ~ Part 1

 

Whether your first book is published by you, an independent publisher, or a hybrid or traditional publisher, your Author-Self pops into existence. Ready or not, you have an Author Identity. An internet search on how to develop your author identity or author brand yields hundreds of articles with advice on what to do. Confusing?

Here are six practical steps that you can do yourself at low or no cost to get you started.

  1. Author Email

Create an email address for your Author-self and use it for all your author communication. Consider using your first and last name and the word author. For example, judithabarrettauthor@yourusualemailprovider.com

  1. Amazon Author Page – a Built-in Website

Rather than creating or paying for a website, create your (free) Amazon Author Page. The Amazon Author Page gives you a built-in web page where readers can find you.

Amazon has an in-depth help article. https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help?topicID=200620850#targetText=Once%20we%20verify%20with%20the,have%20a%20pen%20name%20listed.

  1. Goodreads

Sign on to Goodreads and create your Author-Self profile. You may have to add your book to Goodreads, which is a good thing because then the information will be correct. Claim your book as the author. If you aren’t familiar with Goodreads, you may want to explore it in more depth later; but for now, when you set up your profile and claim your book, you’ve accomplished Step 3.

  1. Social Media

When you read the words, Target Your Readers, is your first thought: “How am I supposed to know who my readers are?” One purpose of social media for an author is to attract and engage with readers.

You probably already have a personal account on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Etsy, or others. Pick the one that you enjoy and create your author-self. Step away from the temptation to “market” with frequent Buy-My-Book posts or to pick a side in the latest controversy; instead, take advantage of this remarkably easy way to discover who your readers are.

  1. Business cards

Create your own business card with a minimum of your Author Name, the word “Author,” and your author email. You can print them with your printer on cardstock for business cards, or purchase them at a reasonable cost online. Either way is great.

  1. Leave home

Is there a writers’ association with monthly meetings nearby? Go. Does your local bookshop host authors who speak and sign books? Go. Does your library host authors who read from their works? Go. Is there a book conference with 50, 70, or 100 attending authors or a local art festival with three authors selling books? Go. Be ready to listen more than you talk and always have your business cards ready to hand out.

That’s it! Except for one more thing.

  1. Bonus!

Buy an author or writer hat, coffee mug, or T-shirt. You’ve earned it!

 

 

Did you already complete steps 1 through 6? How did it go? What did you do next? Would you be interested in Author Identity Part 2?