Posted by David Oates 4 years, 5 months ago

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Please let me be the first to say that I'm a HUGE fan of the trend toward self publishing. It gives anyone the opportunity to put their creative or educational thoughts down into a book form and offer it to the masses. Outlets like Amazon are doing the world a service.

But with the increased opportunity comes a false reality for budding authors. The notion that if they write it folks will come and in droves. Their aspirations to be the next entrant on the New York Times Best Seller list, while certainly admirable, isn't going to happen overnight. Not by a long shot.

Here's why. For the most part, self-published authors are new to the book game. They are unknown commodities without much in the way of support. They may be hiring some quality freelance editors and, if prudent, a good graphic designer to create the book cover. That's not nearly enough, though. Each best-selling book comes with a large marketing budget and a well-seasoned publishing house; both of which offer direct lines to various media outlets who are able and willing to have their featured author promoted. As such, there's a lot of money at stake and the reason why it's difficult for even the professional writers to get their book carried by such outlets as Simon & Schuster

All this is to say that a self-published book can still make a lot of money and bring well deserved recognition to the author; it's just not going to happen overnight. So if you have the next great book in mind and no agent will take you to the big publishers, please do follow your passion and write it. Then once it's edited and put online for sale, take the next two years to perform the following steps simultaneously:

  • Set up a comprehensive web site. Build a brand platform for the book, what it's about and who it is designed to reach. Be sure to optimize it for search engines and make it as illustrative as possible. The same graphic designer should be of help here.
  • Blog, baby, blog. Integrate a blog to the site and post no less than three times a week. Include excerpts from the book, but don't limit it to such content. Get folks to know about you and your passion for the book. Readers will want to feel a personal connection not just to the characters of the book, but also their creator. To the extent possible, be sure to also incorporate video and photos.
  • Broadcast your postings on social media. Get very active on such platforms as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Develop an audience and engage them in two-way conversations about your book, its characters and you. 
  • Get your newsletter up and running. Use content from your blogs and social media and distribute at least monthly. Get more folks to sign up through your website and social media. Better yet, get your friends, family and acquaintances to help build your audience. Hold contests too giving prizes to folks that can answer some detailed questions about characters and activities in your book.
  • Knock on the doors of independent book stores. Go and talk to the proprietors of such establishments with your book and see if they'd be willing to hold a signing party at their location. Make sure you get friends and family to attend and ensure that the store will also do its best to promote the event. If you get a date, get it out on your newsletter, blog and social media. Have folks "check in" and post their experiences to build momentum.

If you do all these things successfully, two things should happen. First sales should show a steady incline for months, they pick up rapidly as the word gets out. You'll also get interest from regional media and that will also send your book sales spiking. And after a couple of years, there's a possibility you'll get noticed by a national book publisher. All this occurs in a perfect world with a great book and takes a great deal of time, patience and sweat equity. But if you have the fortitude and writing skills, it can very well happen. Good luck!

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