I love Kristen Lamb's blog! She doesn't pull her punches. This week she takes aim at 5 common mistakes of self publishers--last week she wrote about the 5 top mistakes that are killing traditional publishing--and that was an excellent article as well.
Kristen's post made me think about what advice I'd give to someone brand-new to self publishing.
1. Master the basics
As writers we're constantly learning, both about the business of writing and about ourselves as writers. A writer standing at the beginning of her journey--if they're anything like I was!--needs to study both the craft of writing and the book publishing industry.
The craft of writing
There are many things a writer can do to improve their craft. Read books, attend writers' conferences, get together with other writers, just to name a few. If you don't know anyone in the place where you live, search for kindred souls online (I can recommend Critters.org).
You've probably heard that it takes 10,000 hours to master any skill or, in the case of writers, about one million words. That's right, a million! It makes sense, though. At 100,000 words a book, that's 10 books. But you don't have to write 10 books and condemn them to live out their lives beside the dust-bunnies (or dust-ghoulies as the case may be) under your bed.
You can write short stories, blog posts, love letters (always the most fun!), blurbs, critiques, book reviews, and so on. Also, no one is saying that your first 1,000,000 words are going to be horrible, not fit to see the light of day. It will likely take you a while to find your voice but no ones saying you can't have fun along the way.
The publishing industry
It is easy to get taken advantage of. After reading Joe Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith, Kris Rusch, Laura Resnick, and many others, I've ... well, I've probably become cynical, at least when it comes to the publishing industry. But writers as a class seem to be easy marks. It's our responsibility not to be so we need to educate ourselves and help spread the word to our fellow writers.
2. Give it time
Although there's an exception to every rule, even this one, success at anything takes hard work and a lot of time. Don't rush it.
Yes, getting your book edited will take more time but it's worth it. I know some of you don't have the money to pay a professional editor--I've been there!--but you can get a fellow newbie to to look over your manuscript and give you feedback. Ideally many more than one.
Don't take the advice/criticism of any one person to heart, no matter who they are. Ask yourself: What do they know of the genre I'm writing in? Also, if you give your book out to, for example, six readers and they all say different things you know you're hearing their personal opinion. But if, say, four of your readers say the same thing--e.g., the pacing in your second chapter needs work--then listen to this! Even if you think your pacing is impeccable. It doesn't matter what you think about this, it matters what your readers think.
3. Writing a new book is more important than promoting one already written
The pros are agreed: The best advertising is the release of a new book. You'll sell more copies and many of the new readers you attract will be interested in reading a few books from your backlist. Kristen puts this beautifully:
Here’s the thing. Self-publishing, in many ways, just allows us to accelerate the career path of the author. Even in traditional publishing, it usually takes about three books to gain traction. In traditional publishing, this takes three years because we are dealing with a publisher’s schedule.Above all, remember Heinlein's first rule of writing: Writer's write. Be a writer.
In self-publishing, we can make our own schedule, but it still takes THREE BOOKS MINIMUM. I know there are exceptions, but most self-published successes hit at about book three. The ability to offer multiple titles is a huge part of why John Locke became successful.
This is why it is critical to keep writing. Not only will writing more books make you a better writer, but once people discover they love your writing, they have a number of titles to purchase. Being able to offer multiple titles is how we make money at self-publishing. It also helps us maximize the whole FREE! tactic. Even I am putting my nose to the grindstone to come out with more books in the next six months. I don’t tell you guys to do anything that, I myself, am unwilling to do.
- How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do
- 4 Reasons Why Writers Will Always Have Work
- Why Writers Need Editors