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.
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 genre you operate in and whether you write fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, 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, especially if you submit your flash fiction and short stories to other markets. To do that requires a little 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 speculative fiction, for instance, then you should read spec-fic journals and magazines. 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 stories, 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.
There is no tried-and-true method for success in any endeavor. You have to follow your own path. Your No. 1 priority should be in producing high quality fiction, poetry, or non-fiction. If other publishers see value in it, then you are more likely to succeed as a self-publisher.