Thought I’d take a break from writing about my writing journey and share a bit about writing questions and answers.
I was contacted by a writing peer on Wattpad asking about my experience with publishing my novels, along with the best ways to market and promote. It seems that he and a friend had thrown their hat into the publishing ring with a book, some marketing on Facebook and Twitter, etc. He admitted that it was getting a bit frustrating because of the work put in without getting the expected results.
A common dilemma.
Perhaps the most ominous question facing the indie writer is: what next? I mean, you’ve put in the work, honed your craft, spent countless hours, days, months, even years writing, rewriting, editing, repeat. Finally you feel that you can’t possibly improve your work any more than as it is. You’re ready to publish. You publish, making your book simultaneously available in print and in digital form for every e-reader and reading app known to man.
Now what? That’s the question. Here was the answer I gave him:
“It’s a long, hard road. I sell books every month, but I’m nowhere near where I set my mind to be. You have to realize that there are literally millions of writers in any given genre, self-publishing their eyeballs out. How do you get your novel noticed in a heaving sea of waving hands and screaming voices?
Patience. Patience and hard work at making your work the best that it can possibly be. Keep in mind that your goal should not be just to compete with other indie authors, but with anything that’s on the book racks in your genre. Anything less than that ambition will result in failure, in my opinion.
Promotion and marketing is tough for anyone not familiar with it (including probably 99% of writers), so you have to try several different approaches and see what works for you. I’m no expert, but I’m learning from helpful blogs from bestselling authors and sites like Bestseller Labs (http://bestsellerlabs.com/), which is the absolute best site I’ve found for sound advice and tips on marketing your book. The main thing is to be engaging. Write a daily blog. Engage your audience with more than just ads for your writing. Get on a few boards and discuss writing with other authors and readers. Write some reviews and interview other authors.
It’s a lot of work, and the hard part is to manage your time between promoting and writing. I’d say the time ratio should be 70% writing, 30% marketing.
Also, don’t expect much from a first novel. It would be great to blow up from the start, but the fact is that for every indie author success story you read about, a few million author’s debut novels go under the radar. That fact is that a great majority of authors don’t start to get a solid readership until they have a few novels available, preferably a series, which is the best way to get readers to follow your work.
I started publishing about a year and a half ago and gave myself three years to get a decent readership. I’m slowly getting there. It’s a tough sale, but I think it will be worth it in the long run. Hope that helps out a little. I know it’s easy to get discouraged, but the good thing is that you can take the time now to take in as much information as you can about the industry. That way when things start rolling, you’ll be better equipped to deal with it.”
And that about does it. Or to shorten it to catchy hip hop phrase: Grind now, shine later. When you’re trying to make it independently in any industry you have to work as hard as you can and hope that you’ll eventually get back what you put in. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll see those who don’t understand that fact doubled over on the sidelines, gasping for breath.
See you at the finish line.