You have probably come across adverts and testimonials encouraging you to sign up for webinars and courses that teach you how to make money online. Some of them are often focused on utilising Amazon KDP and Audible. It is true that authors, whether self-published or traditionally published make a substantial profit from their books. However, these quickly make money gurus will hardly tell you that publishing, just like a high street business, requires hard work and endurance. It’s probably easier to open a business on the high street because people will see your building and be intrigued whether they visit it only once or often. Being a published author requires the ability to wear many hats, including marketing, unless you have a large budget to pay someone to do this for you. Now, don’t be disheartened by this post. I firmly believe that if you have a passion for writing, expressing your creativity or have a natural gift in a specific field, you will find a way to build it into a business. This post aims to open your eyes to what being a successful author entails. The ceiling of traditional book publishing is very high and made out of sturdy glass. The road of independent publishing is steep, with many unexpected learning curves.
So you have written your manuscript, and you want to put it out to the world. Great. Now you need to make a decision. To self-publish or not? If you choose to explore the traditional publishing route, this will take time. First, you need to ensure that your manuscript is as clean as possible. Then, you need to submit your work to a literary agent who is the gatekeeper of the publishing doors. Most publishing houses will not accept unsolicited manuscript submissions for consideration without an agent. So, you need to do your research and compile a list of literary agents to submit your manuscript for representation. This process is relatively slow as literary agents read loads of manuscripts each month, and with a growing saturated market, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back from them for months or not at all. However, once you break through the first hurdle, the literary agent will work with you to ensure that your manuscript is as perfect as possible, and they will find a publisher to turn your work into a book. Then you get paid. An advance. That’s the basic process of traditional publishing.
The self-publishing journey is simple. However, it requires a robust view of self-discipline, faith, and learning aptitude. You can write mediocre stories and upload them to a self-publishing platform; however, if you want to compete with traditionally published authors and have your books picked up by bookstores, you need to learn to finesse your work. As a self-published author, you need to learn the basic formatting and etiquette for paperback, ebook and audiobook. Once you have a manuscript, you can hire an editor and proofreader, a cover creator and a marketer to maximise your chances of hitting higher rankings once you publish your book. You need to research the genre and topic for your book, especially if you’re writing non-fiction. However, if you take a quick look on Amazon, you will also find the most popular fiction. If you cannot afford to hire the help you need, start learning to edit and format your manuscript. There are plenty of videos on youtube and websites from successful authors and other professionals. You can also learn to create your book covers on canva by watching Youtube tutorials. Research metadata to include in your book and during the publishing process, use the correct keywords to improve your book’s visibility on the platforms you have chosen to publish. Don’t forget to purchase ISBNs, although self-publishing platforms provide one for each book, highlighting your books as ‘independently published’. It’s not uncommon to have your book not generate interest from the audience when you start if you don’t already have an online community. This is why you need to learn how to use the power of social media and networking to market your book. Don’t expect Amazon or other platforms to market your book for you.
Once you publish your first book, I advise you not to wait for sales to write and continue doing the work. Start writing your next manuscript, draw in an audience and connect with them, set up your author website and profiles, learn as much as you can about the self-publishing business and find a strategy that works for YOU. Then rinse and repeat. Being a self-published author is not easy, but it’s rewarding, especially when you start seeing tangible results. Just make sure that you write books that you enjoy and would make people want to read. I will write more on self-publishing going forward, and I hope you found this post useful.
Until next time.