In conjunction with the release of my self-published book A Path to Publishing: What I Learned by Publishing a Nonfiction Book, I’m offering this series of posts on what you need to know about self-publishing.
When you’re self-publishing all of the work falls on you, the author. No matter how much published authors complain about the lack of marketing support provided by their publishers, which can be spotty at times, the worst publicist will do more than upload a file to a web site, which is all you’re doing when self-publishing.
The Basic Ways Publishers Market
Publishers have established lists of contacts who receive their catalogues, e-mail newsletters, and browse their web sites. They represent authors at book stores and can send releases out to major press services—something that can be quite costly to do on your own.
The staff at publishers generally have social media accounts and blogs, and they may even generate some buzz for your book through these tools. At the very least these publishing professionals will tell potential readers about your book. You’ll at least have a few warm bodies with a measure of interest in selling your book.
Any way you slice it, the least that a publisher provides still puts their authors way ahead of the self-published ones.
What Self-Published Authors Need to Do
While it’s important to seek out some reputable endorsers and reviewers who have a large group of readers, I don’t think self-published authors realize the number of readers they need to pull off a self-published book that sells more than 25-50 copies. Simply put, self-published authors need a massive number of connections with potential readers.
The “potential reader” part of this is crucial. Authors may have lots of “connections” through social media, their blogs, or more traditional means, but many of these connections may not view their books as something they’ll want to purchase.
I’ve done quite a bit of networking, but I have been reading Crush It! by social media expert and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, and he’s been blowing my mind. I usually drop by some blogs to leave comments and contribute to writing forums, but he advocates a scale of networking that few would ever consider.
I sure didn’t!
I could try to describe it to you, but to be honest, I’d be doing you a disservice because I can’t do his methods justice. Crush It! is available at a pretty low price as a Video Book, which I highly recommend, though it’s also available in print. You may not do everything Vaynerchuk suggests, but I think he’ll give self-published authors the reality check they need about how involved the marketing process will be for their books.
An author who is new to the publishing process will underestimate the amount of work necessary for marketing. Count on it. As a published author I still underestimate the amount of work I need to do. Before you invest heavily into a book, begin marketing yourself and making connections today. It’s a worthwhile investment you won’t regret.