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.
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.
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.
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.
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?