Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Secrets of Self-Publishing A to Z: Conventions


At some point in your self-publishing career, you may be invited to a convention, or just come up with the idea to go by yourself. Before you book that table in the lonely creator's alley, there are a few things to consider:

1. Conventions are normally on the weekends, and that's when many of us like to write. In other words, sitting at a table, trying to hawk your books means you won't be getting any writing done. 

2. Unless you're an invited guest, conventions cost money to attend. Primarily, table fees. But there's also food, travel, and if you're out of town, lodgings. These costs can quickly mount, surpassing several hundred dollars. That's a lot of books to sell. 

3. Conventions cater to a specific demographic. For instance, comic book fans. Unless your book is about comic books, or comic book characters, you're going to have a hard time competing with cover-to-cover art. 

4. Selling books in person isn't as easy as you might think. Particularly bearing in mind the fact you'r competing against art, props, toys, and a lot of other things that can much more easily be visually appraised for their value.

If you do decide to set up at a convention, bear in mind there's a LOT of sitting involved. Sitting at your table/booth that is. You can bring something to do, or read, but if you do get a visitor, you have to be ready to drop everything and give them all your attention. 

Don't get too excited about visitors though... many are authors themselves, eager to network with other authors, or maybe looking for some tips from someone more experienced. Or they could be an aspiring author who has a lot of questions about self-publishing, but no intention to buy anything. 

And don't go to the convention empty handed. Even if you're only trying to sell ebooks (or rather, direct people to them) you need stuff at your table. Bookmarks, buttons, pencils, flyers, cards... the more stuff the better. 

As you can see, conventions are a lot more complicated to be a vendor at, than they are to visit. You're probably better off visiting, then returning home and doing some writing. 

Monday, April 03, 2017

Secrets of Self-Publishing A to Z: Businessing the Craft out of Writing


As I mentioned in yesterday, there are a lot of people out there that want to take your money and “help” you print your books. Book doctors who’ll re-write your work for you, Cover Designers who’ll come up with that perfect cover, and even formatters who’ll ensure your work is ready for upload to whatever online service you choose to self-publish on.

But worse among them all are the business people. These folks claim that writing is a business and that you can’t succeed if you don’t treat it like one. They offer seminars (for a fee) or even consultations (for a fee). They extoll spreadsheets, virtual assistants, and acting professionally. Some of them are even authors.

Again, I have to call bullshit. Writing is a craft. We aren’t stamping out books from a mold, we’re spinning stories for readers. It’s art as much as painting or music. When you think of it as business, you’re taking the art away. The same thing has happened on television, which now features teams of writers on most shows, all methodically and systematically churning out formulaic scripts.

Whether you are saving the cat, or Denting some pulp, please don’t ever lose sight of the most important thing about self-publishing: telling a good story. Study the craft, not the marketing. Once you can master self-publishing, then you can move on to selling more copies, and then once you do that, you can worry about keeping track of expenses, maximizing your profits and all that other non-artistic crap. 

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Secrets of Self Publishing: All By Yourself

A to Z secrets of Self-Publishing:


For almost five years now, I've been actively self-publishing. You can too, and I'm going to help you figure out the secrets of self-publishing. Unlike a lot of my peers though, I'm not going to charge for my knowledge, I'm going to share it for free. AND I'm going to give you the no-holds-barred, bullshit-free truths of self publishing.

First up, I'll tell you that you don't need anyone else. Self-publishing is just what it says it is: publishing yourself, instead of waiting for someone else to do it.

Before Kindle, self-publishing was limited to vanity publishing, which really was nothing more than self-printing. Having a print copy of your work doesn't really amount to much, because you need to find a way to sell it to customers. Kindle Direct Publishing is completely different thought. Instead of filling boxes in your garage with unsold copies of your work, you actually place your work on a digital marketplace where customers can, in theory, see it without any further work from you. That is, it's available to everyone, rather than just folks that come to your yard sale.

KDP isn't the only marketplace for self-publishers. There's Nook, Kobo, iTunes. Smashwords, and even Google Play (assuming you can figure out their interface). But I'll get into them more later. 

What's really important to remember about self publishing is that it truly is DIY. If you have a computer and can put your words in electronic format for uploading, then you also have the means to make covers, to edit, spellcheck and even proofread your own work. It may indeed be true that you might lack the talent to do these things, and that's okay. But you should at least try.

What irritates me the most about the modern self-publishing landscape is all the deceitful hucksters out there insisting that if you don't have a "professional" cover, or a "professional" editor, etc. etc. you won't sell anything. I say bullshit. You don't need professional services, they are just ways to improve your odds of making sales. 

Think of it in car terms. When you buy a car, it doesn't need air conditioning. Or a sunroof. Or Power seats, power mirrors, GPS, etc. etc. Those are options. A five speed manual transmission with hand crank windows and manual door locks will get you to work. A/C will just get you there more comfortably. 

Self-publishing is the same. If you just can't make a cover to save your life, that doesn't mean you won't make any sales. It's an indicator you won't make very many, but there's still that element of dumb luck involved. 

Here's where I'll digress for a moment. A lot of people confuse luck with karma. You ca't change luck. By definition, it's random. And no matter how much money you throw at book you've self-published, it still just might not sell, and not because it's bad. On the other hand, complete crap (whether it's published by traditional publishers or you) can sell many, many units if you're lucky enough for the right people to see it, share it, talk about it, etc. 

The most important thing about true DIY self-publishing, is that you are willing to work. And no, it's not a "business", as so many other hucksters will proclaim. It's not a business until you actually are selling. Until then, it's a dream, and you have to work hard and cross your fingers that dream comes true. But the good news is that it can

Not everyone wins the lottery who buys a ticket. Self-publishing has better odds than the lottery, in that you can sell some of your books no matter how bad the cover, the editing, or the spelling. If you want to improve your odds by putting a second mortgage on your home to pay experts who themselves aren't writing, go right ahead, but please, please, please remember that all the money in the world may not be enough to sell your work to readers. 

It's a new day in publishing, and you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. It costs nothing but time to publish in our modern, digital world.