Self-published authors in our day of easy POD and Kindle Direct Publishing are a dime a dozen, but successful self-publishers are the cream of the crop. The question for every would-be author is, “How do I move from being a self-published author to being a successful self-publishing icon?”
It’s not a difficult formula. It’s actually quite simple. That doesn’t mean it is easy.
7 Steps To Self-Publishing Success
Here’s your 7-step recipe for increasing your chances at being successful in your self-publishing endeavors.
- Write every day – This is nothing new. Successful authors, self-published or not, are writers who write every day. You cannot write occasionally, or whenever you feel like it, and expect to be successful. Diligence pays off for those who are persistent enough to follow through. You need to get yourself in the habit of being productive, and that means putting your pen to work every day.
- Develop a system – As a self-published author, you are not just a writer. You have to think like a business person. Successful businesses follow a system. Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant recommend constant production in their book Write. Publish. Repeat. Maybe their system will work for you. Maybe you’d do better following another system altogether. You may even develop your own. Whatever the case, you need a system to follow, one which will keep you focused on your goals and which gives you the greatest chance at success.
- Give yourself permission to fail – There are no guarantees in life. You can’t succeed if you don’t risk failure. So give yourself permission to fail. Just be sure you learn from your mistakes, and don’t repeat them.
- Submit your work to other publishers – No matter what non-fiction genre you write in, you have to build an audience. One way of doing that is by tapping into the audience of other publishers. Even if you self-publish, take some time out to send your work to magazines and journals. Get your name out in as many places as possible – online and off line. One resource I use for finding suitable markets is Duotrope.
- Research your market like your life depends on it – Market research is key. Even self-publishers can benefit from keen market research. Embrace it.
- Submit to markets you read regularly – While it is important that you submit your writing to other markets, it is critical that you submit to markets you read. If you write about financial markets, for instance, then you should read newspapers and magazines that report on financial markets. You are more likely to be published in venues that you support.
- Don’t take rejection personally – When you were a child and you fell off your bike, did you get up and ride again? Treat writing the same way. When you are rejected for publication, wrap up your piece and send it somewhere else. You might need to revise it some, but that’s okay. Do what you have to do. I’m not saying you should hang all your hopes and dreams on being accepted by others, but if no one else wants to publish your articles, then it’s probably an indication that they’re missing something. Take a hard look and see what that might be. After you’ve achieved some success in pursuing other markets, you’ll be more confident to pursue self-publication.
The Myriad Paths Of Authorship
You might say authorship is the longest running American dream–the idea that one can achieve success and happiness in life on one’s own terms. Very few professions make that promise, and fewer deliver on it. Authorship, however, is one profession that doesn’t hold back.
Well, unless you’re stuck in the authorship paradigm of the past. The new path forward for writers who want to be authors is independence.
Being independent, however, is a choice. And it doesn’t necessarily preclude traditional publishing. Many independent authors never submit a manuscript to a traditional publisher while others start off as traditional authors earning royalties from traditional publishing houses. Neither way is wrong.
The term for authors who pursue publication for themselves, of themselves, and by themselves in conjunction with traditional routes is “hybrid.” And the list of hybrid authors is growing by the day.
Here’s what self-publishing powerhouse Joanna Penn says about hybrid publishing:
“Hybrid is the way forward,” said Penn, “I’m a fan of publishers who want to be creative and do exciting things, and there are lots of things I’d like to do, so I think hybrid is the best way, allowing authors to do some projects with publishers and others that they self-publish.
What does that look like, exactly?
The Best Path For A Hybrid Author
Here’s the dirty little secret. There is no “best path” for a hybrid author. Some, like fiction writer Amanda Hocking, start out publishing their own books then, due to their own push for success, they are picked up by traditional authors. Others start out as traditionally published authors and decide to publish a title under their own name. Sometimes, these authors may decide to publish under a pen name. Other hybrids approach traditional publishing and self-publishing simultaneously.
The beautiful thing about being a writer at the start of the 21st century is that there aren’t any rules. You no longer have to submit your manuscript to agent after agent after agent and listen to endless rejection until finally, years later, you get a publisher to offer you a deal only to find out you have to do your own marketing. There’s nothing wrong with that path if it’s the path that you choose to take. But it’s not the path you have to take.
The Best Publishing Path For You
When it comes to being an author, you have an obligation to yourself and the people you love to seek the best path for you. What works for one writer may not work for another. Your best path is the path that promises the terms most favorable to you. For many authors, that’s a hybrid publishing model incorporating traditional publishing strategies with new and independent ones. These truths are equally true for fiction and non-fiction writers.
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