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?

Self-Publishing: Select a Font in Six Steps

Font matters

A self-published author has two distinct roles: author and publisher. After the author-self has completed all the revisions based on feedback from peers and beta readers and the work has been professionally edited, the author hands the final product over to the publisher-self. For the new publisher, the variety of decisions and choices can be overwhelming.

For example, font selection is a critical decision. A first-time publisher needs a font that is transportable; that is, one that requires fewer technical changes in creating the layouts for ebooks and print books, and one that meets the requirements of major distributors: Amazon, Kobo, Ingram Spark, and others. While it sounds daunting, selecting a font takes only six steps.

Step 1. Serif or Sans serif?

Serif fonts have a decorative stroke to finish off the letter; sans serif, do not. Note that “sans” means without. Examples of serif fonts are Times New Roman, Georgia, Garamond, and Baskerville. Examples of sans serif are Arial, Helvetica, and Calibri. The more common type of font for books is serif. Common practice for online viewing is sans serif. Even though ebooks are read on a screen, most publishers select the same serif font for both the ebook and the print book for simplicity in creating the two different layouts and for consistency between the two platforms.

Step 2. Embedded Fonts – What’s that?

The next decision is to select a font that is embedded. Fonts are created by developers. Many fonts are created without the inclusion of the complete technical specifications because system defaults are acceptable replacements for a typical personal or business printer or online. An important exception is the Portable Document Format, PDF, file that requires an embedded font to be truly portable. An embedded font includes its technical specs and is translated correctly by any printer.

For example, Times New Roman and Arial rely on system defaults rather than including the full technical specifications. The resulting fonts are technically different than the original fonts even though they are visually indiscernible. Who cares? PDF does.

Garamond, Janson, Bembo, Baskerville, Palatino, and Times New Roman are frequently noted on the internet as common fonts used in novels. The internet seems to be oblivious of the importance of embedding.

Step 3. Size matters

After narrowing down the selection to two or three fonts, the next step is to pick a font size. Font size is based on the font style, so Times New Roman 10 and Garamond 10 are not the same physical size. Because the font size on a computer screen can be adjusted for viewing, print a page using different fonts and sizes for a realistic comparison for the paperback.

Step 4. Save a File

To save the document as a PDF using Microsoft Word, select Save As PDF and Click on Options. Click the PDF/A box and save.

Save As PDF

 

PDFA Compliant

 

Step 5. Check the PDF file

Check your font using Adobe Acrobat Reader. File | Properties | Font

The version of Microsoft Word used in this test does not include the fonts Janson, Bembo or Palatino. The sentences are in Garamond, Palatino Linotype, and Times New Roman. The default font in Word is Calibri.

The results show that Calibri, a sans serif type font, is embeddable.

Garamond, a serif type font, is embeddable.

Palatino Linotype is embeddable as Palatino Linotype-Roman, which is the change the system made. It might be tempting to say that’s not a problem, but the defaults on a different computer might not match the test system’s defaults.

Times New Roman PSMT is embeddable. The system changed the font from Times New Roman to make it embeddable.  Another computer or printer might select a different font to make it embeddable. Times New Roman is not a good choice either.

 

Embedded Fonts

 

Step 6. Use What’s Available

A self-publisher with an eye on the budget considers the availability of fonts that are included with the version of software used to create the PDF.  Paying for a font is always an option, but the new publisher may prefer to use a more accessible font. The sample shows that Garamond is the best choice to publish with the installed version of Word. Adobe Garamond is the font for the text in the Harry Potter books, and Garamond is the text font for Hunger Games, so the sample novel is in good company!