Wanting to make my living from self-publishing I decided to reread and old book that I had read years ago when I wanted to make my living through writing fiction. That book was Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant. In it the authors talk about how to be successful with self-publishing, no luck required. This isn’t to say that Sean or Johnny pretend like it’s going to be easy. They tell it like it is, which is you make your own luck through hard work.
Sean and Johnny have made their livings through publishing fiction works. They’ve since expanded into other fields as I bought this book back in 2013 when it first came out. Nevertheless they started in fiction and were able to make their living from it. While they are geared towards fiction writing the same strategies and tactics they outline in the book can be applied to non-fiction as well and to be honest I think with better effect. Fiction authors know that one book isn’t going to make them rich yet for some reason non-fiction authors continue to harbor this fantasy.
If you see a fiction writer with 40+ books it’s not really a big deal yet you’d be hard pressed to find many non-fiction authors who have more then ten. No matter what way you look at it a large part of making your living from writing books it the number of books that you put out. A good portion of success is playing the numbers game and having the law of averages work in your favor. Regardless if you making books or writing a blog this holds true.
One of the first sections of the book is dedicated to understanding the world of self-publishing and how it differs from traditional publishing. For example one of the good things is that you can go direct to the consumer without going through middle men. This means more targeted content that your readers want as well as less money going out of your pocket between your keyboard and your readers reading device. However this also means that you have to do all your own marketing and preparation as well (however with the way publishing houses have become unless you’re James Patterson you’d have to do this anyways).
They also talk about the downsides of self-publishing one of the primary ones being you have to keep publishing. Like stated above you can’t just put out one book and then sit back sipping pina coladas while the royalties roll in. As soon as you hit publish you need to be hard at work on your next book and so on and so forth. However if you wanted to make a living writing you’d be foolish to think you could do it any other way. No matter what you have to put in the work. Also prepare to toil in obscurity for some time, just like with blogging. But keep publishing even if you hit 10, 20, 50, or even 100 books you need to just keep trucking. You never know which one will suddenly soar bringing all the others with it.
Creating A Professional Product
Just because you are self-published doesn’t mean you can slack when it comes to design. As a matter of fact you need to put even more effort into how your book looks and is edited. When it comes down to it most books are sold through Amazon and on Amazon what makes one book stand out from the other is the cover number one and the title number two. You need to make sure you are getting both right. When it comes to the Amazon lineup no one can tell if a book is traditionally published or self-published. What they can tell is how good the cover looks. Don’t make your cover yourself make sure that a professional is doing it.
Also you want to make sure that your books are formatted correctly for Kindle or whatever e-reader they are going to be on. They also cover editing, line editing, proofreading, formatting, product descriptions, pricing, publishing on multiple platforms, as well as getting your books into print format. All important topics for someone who wants to make a living writing needs to know. A quick word about titles. Titles (other than the cover) are the most important part of the book. Make sure that you get these right, just like writing a headline for an advertisement.
Marketing Your Self-Published Book
In this section Sean and Johnny talk about building a platform and gathering a “tribe” of followers that’ll purchase what you put out. They talk about the importance of standing for something and how you want to purpose alienate those that are not like you. This will build trust and affinity with those who are like you. Trying to get everyone to like you is a guaranteed way to fail. You have to be polarizing and take a stand. You have to get some haters. They also talk about how to build an audience through e-mail, social media, blogging, using podcasts, and real life experiences.
Marketing is what is going to separate your self-published book from the rest of the pack and make you good money. A bad product with good marketing is going to make one hundred times the money that a great product with poor marketing is going to make. Sean and Johnny also talk about making funnels with your books. For example having the first installment for 2.99 and the second for 4.99 all the way up to the last for the full price of 9.99. They do with fiction with series but it can be done with non-fiction as well with a little creativity.
Above all else Sean and Johnny remind you that it ultimately comes down to one thing. Write, publish, repeat. Keep doing that and you will achieve success. Also ever book you publish helps market your other books as well. Just keep publishing your works and the reward will be yours. Never expect to make it off one or even ten books. Just like you wouldn’t expect to make it off your first one hundred blog posts. You have to keep pushing and pushing, keep taking action until you get what you want. You have to keep up the cycle of write, publish, repeat until you get the success that you want and you inevitably will as long as you keep at it.