From One Writer to Another - Some Thoughts on Self-Publishing

Today's post is the third in a writing tips and advice series called From One Writer to Another. First, I tackled some general advice, then I told the truth about blogging, and I gave a few tips to write fiction faster. Today's post tackles self-publishing. About a year ago, I wrote a post called the Ins and Outs of Self-Publishing talking about the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing. I still agree with what I wrote then, but I wanted to add a few more notes about what I've learned about self-publishing after releasing another book.

First, self-publishing is pretty easy to do for someone with reasonable skills on a computer. The actual formatting for both my paperback and ebook versions of The Adventures of Zelda were relatively painless. The ebook versions maybe took 2 hours to format and polish with another couple hours for the paperback format for Createspace. (If my old version of Microsoft Word wasn't so terrible, the Createspace format would be even quicker!)

All of this is to say it is true anybody can self-publish. Even if you can't figure out the formatting, someone will do it for you for a nominal fee. And that my friends is what is amazing about self-publishing. There is a way to put your words out in a format for others to read. I love it. I am able to pass out books and spread the word about my writing through self-publishing. I am building a name for myself. It's great.

But, the road to self-publishing success is long. Unless you are the lucky one of one million writers, your first book isn't going to sell enough to pay your bills, even if it's a great book. Success in the self-publishing arena takes dedication, patience, and consistency.

And so, if you want to be a successful self-published author, write a book, publish it, and then immediately start writing another. Realize your success will come down the road when you have several books out for readers. So keep writing and get a critical mass of books published. Focus on writing good books first.

When you have published three to five good books, it is time to start the serious marketing. Start looking for ways to advertise and reach new readers whether that's paid advertising, blog interviews, book signings, etc. Then when you find new readers, they have another book to buy, and your name to pass on to other readers.

If you look at the majority of successful indie authors (Lindsay Buroker, Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, J.F. Penn, David Wood, Hugh Howey), they have several books out, usually in the double digits. When you have 5, 8, or 10 books out, it becomes much easier to market and spread the word about your writing.

So that's my strategy, especially in the next nine months. I'm focusing hard on writing fiction, less on workshops, marketing, and even blogging (although I still will do it). The plan is to have at least two more fiction books out by next summer and then market my name. I believe in self-publishing and making a career of writing. But, I understand the time and commitment of doing it, and I'm willing to make the sacrifice.

What do you like about self-publishing?  What don't you like about self-publishing?