As printing and digital technology gets better, it’s easier than ever for writers to get their work to readers. I applaud writers who take the leap, perfecting their work, hiring editors and designers, publishing and promoting the story to readers. It’s a tough road as the writer wears so many more hats, but it can be very rewarding.
The rise of the ebook has definitely revolutionised the publishing industry. Never before has it been so easy for a writer to publish his book and distribute it with the main, albeit online retailers or to sell it from his own website to a worldwide audience. In the past a writer who decided to publish his book independently had to go round all the different book shops and struggle to convince the manager to take their book or they had to get a distributor to do this task for them. Often the profit that the writer could make in these circumstances was very small because of the cut the other two parties took. I experienced this problem first hand when I published my book of poetry called Welcome Back to Paradise years before the rise of the ebook.
Many independent writers reached these stumbling blocks and faltered, however I managed to manoeuvre around them with persistence, hard work and adaptation of my approach. I soon learned that having a good book was not enough. I had to be innovative, thick skinned, good at marketing and most of all, I had to find my target audience and go directly to them, i.e., do poetry readings in universities and sell my books immediately afterwards.
My experience with publishing Welcome Back to Paradise was great training for publishing ebooks, because as an independent writer, although it is now much more easier to publish and distribute your work digitally with the help of services like SmashWords and Amazon KDP, you still have to take on the humongous task of marketing your book and creating a buzz.
Marketing a book can consist of blogging, liaising with bloggers to organise giveaways and reviews, tweeting, engaging with your possible audience on sites like Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter and taking part in Amazon Select.
As an independent author, you need to be able to wear many hats because you are responsible for doing the different jobs that a publisher usually has a team of people doing, i.e., commissioning art work, editing, marketing, finance, PR and so on. You do not have the luxury of focusing solely on your writing while others worry about the business side of things.
After spending a year writing and rewriting Borlosanti many times, I finally sent it to a few editors and got a couple of people to read it. Once I received everyone’s feedback, I carefully assessed which criticisms were valid and which were not before I did a final rewrite taking the valid criticism into account. This was a very hard task because I couldn’t allow my emotional ties to my book to influence my decisions. I had to be objective for the good of the book. At this point, I gave a friend who was good at art my design for the cover and asked them to do it more professionally. Once I had a book and a cover that I was happy with, I sent my book to one of the people on the SmashWords formatting list. After it was formatted, I uploaded it to SmashWords so that they could distribute it to all of the major online retailers and then I uploaded it to Amazon’s KDP.
Borlosanti was inspired by a role playing game I used to play with my friends in primary school. Writing and publishing it has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. However my journey with Borlosanti is not over because I have to continue to market it whilst working on its sequel.
Personally although self-publishing is far from easy, I absolutely love it because there are so many challenges and there is so much to learn. My advice for anybody who wants to embark on this journey is to:
- Stay committed
- Allocate an adequate amount of time for writing and marketing on a daily basis
- Apply the same level if not more energy than the amount you put into writing your book into the marketing and promotion of it
- Start marketing before you even finish writing the book
- Base your marketing activities on tangible facts (do more of what works) and
- Learn from others like Amanda Hocking, J.A Konrath, John Locke and so on.
At the moment, for a limited time only, the readers of this blog can receive a free ebook copy of Borlosanti all you need to do is email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Free giveaway.” Please remember to inform me what format you would like it in.
Thanks, Jonathan. Great advice about staying committed. Good luck on your continued journey.
Read more from Jonathan on his blog.